I have never been much of a Valentine's Day celebrator, in part because, as a teenager and young adult, I never seemed to have, or was able to keep, a significant other on Valentine's Day (see my last post as to why). But with the advent of Leslie Knope's Galentine's Day, the holiday took a shift for me - from a commercialized celebration of being/not being in a relationship to a celebration of women empowering other women, embracing the sisterhood and loving on the ladies in their lives. WHICH I LOVE AND AM HAPPY TO CELEBRATE.
Recently, I had the opportunity to be involved in a boudoir pop up hosted by my friends Charly Rosemary and Cortney Asten. The two ladies put their creative heads together to set up a safe and welcoming environment for women to get a couple boudoir photos done in time for Valentine's Day. It was really inspiring to see women of all colors, shapes, and backgrounds express interest, participate in or merely encourage and support the other women involved in this project.
I'd like to take a minute to applaud all the ladies who got in front of the camera this time around. The vulnerability, strength, and grace needed to allow someone to capture you in such an intimate setting should not go unrecognized. Boudoir can be an empowering experience when you allow yourself the space to feel confident, sexy, strong, and beautiful. The greatest lesson I have learned from my experience is to harness that energy and apply it to the other aspects of my life.
I'm tired of hearing women bash their own bodies, looks, and personality quirks, because I know what it is like to tear myself up over my own imperfections; The scars, rolls, beauty marks, veins, freckles, hairs, skin imperfections, derpy faces, weird laughs, anxieties, and fears, are all just part of the puzzle. Without any one of them, you would be missing pieces and you'd no longer be you (you would also have weird puzzle-piece shaped holes and I'm not sure what to do about that). Is shooting in lingerie and feeling comfortable putting it on the internet a cure-all for body and self image issues? No. But, have I found it helpful in appreciating my body and learning to love it - quirks and all? Yes. Some days I feel bloated. Some days my ezcema flares up. Some days I'm mentally drained. Some days I'm actually coming down with the flu and you can see it in my work. lol. The imperfections that show up on camera should not be obsessed over; They should be recognized and accepted. They don't have to be loved individually, but together they make up someone beautiful who is worthy of love. In the words of RuPaul, " If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?"
So ladies, let's celebrate and love on each other not just on Valentine's Day, but every day. If you have ideas for collaborating this year, I'd love to hear them! If you want to meet for coffee and bounce ideas off each other, I'm down. If you want a new friend to explore with or take a photo walk, count me in! Shoot me a DM (@shae_li) or an email. I want to build you up because united we can generate change. If we can stand together, support each other and cheer each other on, we will be unstoppable.