I talk a lot about feeling beautiful. Helping women feel beautiful is very important for me. This need informs and inspires my work as a writer and as a photographer.
As I photograph a beautiful bride glowing from within, I get to feel beautiful right along with her.
I recently made this statement during a business presentation about what inspires my work as a photographer. After the presentation, I had serveral people say to me, “Audrey, you are a beautiful woman, I cannot understand why you would think otherwise?”
Here is the deal…
When you can’t get out of bed for days because the pain is so intense, beautiful is the last thing you feel. I struggled with chronic pain and endometriosis for 17 years. Now, it wasn’t a pain level of 10 everyday for all those years. It came in waves from month to month, and year to year, good days and bad. But, when a pain level of 5 or 6 is a good day, it wears on you. For years I thought I was doing a good job of managing and dealing with the pain and hormone imbalances. But since choosing alternative ways of healing, I discovered there is a lot of emotional trauma surrounding endometriosis, chronic illness, and chronic pain. I didn’t see the emotional pain coming. It’s not easy to confront your own fears and insecurities about being a woman. And for me, loving and accepting myself, and feeling beautiful have been one of the hardest concepts to grasp. It sounds so easy. You are a beautiful girl, and therefore you should feel beautiful. Right?
When the idea of showering and wearing something OTHER than sweatpants and a t-shirt seems far too difficult… you feel more like a steaming pile of cow dung. Not beautiful. And I don’t mean looking in the mirror and thinking my outfit is ugly, or it’s time for a new haircut. I mean I was so far past exhausted, every inch of my body hurt. I merely wanted to survive the day.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was angry. With chronic ONGOING pain, at some point you just get used to it. You have to. Or what does your life become? My body and mind were hardened to the fact that I was in pain. Way in the back of my psyche, I was angry and resentful. Anger and resentment do not coincide with light, airy, cheerful, joyous beauty. It’s been an ongoing therapy topic, to release the heavy feelings of anger and resentment, and fill that space with love and acceptance.
I’ve been improving. I can at least hear it if someone tells me I am beautiful, and accept it with gratitude. But hearing and feeling are two different things. So, when I talk about photographing a glowing bride, and feeling beautiful right along with her, it really is a way for me to celebrate my health. I get to celebrate and feel beautiful with her.
ps… if you haven’t had a chance, I would highly suggest checking out the post on How a Dove Commercial Made Me Cry: Real Beauty Sketches.