When Shyla reached out to us to book her session, I was completely blown away by her story. Instead of putting it into my own words, I figured I use hers!
What or who made you decide to book a boudoir session?
“I grew up as an athlete. I played sports from childhood up through playing on a D1 team in college. I love so many of the things that my teammates and coaches have given me through the years, but one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t take the time to foster a healthier relationship with myself. I viewed myself as having a body that could score and defend, that could succeed or fail. If I gained weight, I would slow myself down. If I lost weight, I lost muscle and strength. I trained 20 hours a week, but I didn’t have a six-pack or a thigh gap. My coaches, who were supposed to lead and encourage, would praise me for my work ethic and in the same sentence say it wasn’t enough. That I wasn’t strong enough, or fast enough, or anything enough. It’s incredibly draining, both mentally and physically, to work and push your body beyond its limits and know that you’ll always be held to the standard of someone better than yourself.
Throughout my athletic career, I craved the drive and the push to be better. But then my career ended, and gotdayum what a relief. I finally had the chance to accept myself, and I was allowed to be happy with myself because nobody was telling me I shouldn’t be. At the same time, I felt lost; I didn’t know how to see my body without the pressure surrounding it. It took me a few months to realize that I could see my body however tf I wanted to. I found pole dance and aerial silks at PDF, and I realized that I could work out and genuinely enjoy it. I didn’t have to be pushed in any way other than how I wanted to be. I realized that there are no rules on who’s allowed to be sexy. I have the right to be confident in my body — who’s to say I don’t? Why should the default be insecurity, and confidence be something surprising? I’m surrounded every day by people who inspire me and love each other and love themselves, and that energy rubs off powerfully. I booked a boudoir session because I want to document and remember this, how I feel at this point in my life. I love myself, and I love my body, and I want to share that feeling with as many people as I can.”
Did anything change about the way you see your own beauty / sexuality / sensuality / body confidence as a result of this session?
“Oh hell yeah. And this is my favorite effect of the entire experience, how this changed for me. Before I had this shoot, I’ve worked a looot on my body confidence (i.e. my whole athlete spiel above). It’s been quite the process, but getting to the point where I can truly say “I love my body” has been a point of pride for me. The thing is, I’ve trained myself to feel that way by thinking of my body as an extension of who I am. If I love myself, then I love my body, no matter what it looks like. I don’t have to like it all the time, but it deserves the love that I can give it.
I had a bit of a breakthrough when I saw the first photo posted of me, the one that Ashley posted on her personal page. I’m spinning, and you can’t even see my face — I think that might actually be part of why I feel so strongly about it. When I saw that post, my first thought was, “holy shit, I love THAT body. That body looks strong and free and sexy and graceful, and it’s goddamn beautiful.” Seeing myself from a removed, almost objective perspective, and seeing the beauty from the outside-in rather than just the inside-out — that’s more than I could have hoped for. The more I looked at it, the more that I saw things I loved rather than things to pick apart, and that’s a powerful thing.”
What was your biggest fear before the session? Did it come true, and if not, what happened instead?
“I was really worried that wearing sexy clothes and getting hair and makeup done would make me feel like a different person. I didn’t want to feel like I was a kid playing dress-up, nor did I want to look at pictures and feel like I was looking at a stranger. I don’t think that came true at all. There’s a moment that’s a bit dissociative, but then you realize that it is you, and you are that sexy, and Ashley and Maria just worked a little magic to make that shine through.”
How did the session make you feel?
“11/10, five thousand stars, kween. I felt like a woman. There really isn’t much to say beyond that. All of the sexiness and confidence inside of me that I hadn’t brought out, whether it was out of shyness or caution or because I didn’t know it was there, was brought out and polished and shone more than I could have expected.”
What specifically was your favorite part of the experience, and why?
“Honestly, how comfortable every part of it was. I never once thought “can I be showing this part of my body right now? Am I doing this right? Is she judging me for doing it wrong?” I work in an extremely male-dominated field, and there’s almost a constant lurking, uncomfy tension that goes along with being one of the only women among your colleagues. Here, I felt completely free to be the woman I am. It was liberating.”
If you were to recommend us to your best friend, what would you say?
“Do it. It’s worth it. Whether it’s the effect of your own mental preparation beforehand, the actual shoot, or the experience of seeing the photos of yourself… your eyes are going to open to the possibilities of who you can be. No matter what or who you’re doing the shoot for, whatever you’re hoping for is going to happen.
Thank you. To the whole team, a million times over, thank you.
I’ll be back :)”