As I sat with my baby in front of Jade's camera, my heart was pounding in my chest. My mind went through my checklist of insecurities one by one. My skin is too white. She's going to notice that ugly mole. My hair is so boring. I wish I had natural breasts. Deep breath. Pause. Eyes open. Fully present. This is me, and I am not ashamed. I love my body. I remember why I came here.
Jade's chorus of "Oh my god, this is epic!" and "What a perfect scar!" and "Love, love, love!" echoed across the beautiful outdoor studio, set in the backyard of a home in Los Angeles. The sun was shining. Small birds danced over the glistening pool. By all accounts, this moment was absolutely perfect.
My brief bout of insecurity passed. And amazingly, I felt so comfortable. More comfortable then I'd ever felt in front of a camera. My baby and I were just doing what we normally do. Breastfeeding, giggling, snuggling, playing, breathing, and living. There was nothing shameful. There was nothing obscene or worthy of anything but praise.
I was sick that day. In fact, I had barely made it out the door thanks to a nasty intestinal bug and a lingering respiratory infection. My son was under the weather too, and we were both struggling with breastfeeding as my supply was lagging thanks to being sick. But there we were, surviving and making it through together. Just like we survived a 43-week pregnancy, a maternal infection, and an emergency cesarean. I held my son close to my breast and blinked away the tears. If there was any reason to be shooting with Jade, it was to give thanks simply for having made it this far, for being alive at this very moment.
But there were other reasons too. Growing up, I felt terribly insecure and ashamed of my own body. Nudity carried a strong negative stigma, and I never felt comfortable looking at myself in a mirror. And so I was also taking these photos to celebrate a metamorphosis of self love and acceptance, and the ability to release the shame that plagued me for far too long. From the first moment I saw these photos, all my insecurities became insignificant to me. I literally fell in love with my own skin, and what an ecstatic moment that was.
(All content and images © by the author)