The week before the Atlanta 10 Miler, I saw an advertisement. On Facebook. I usually glance right over Facebook ads, because I secretly resent how spot-on their targeting is. This particular ad was a sponsored blog by a photographer talking about Christmas. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s Christmas. So I clicked.
As soon as I started reading the blog, I could hear the writer’s voice. And I LOVED her! I wanted to hang out with her immediately. And as I read the blog, I realized I was reading about Christmas and…boudoir photography.
I paused. I’d been feeling particularly beautiful in the recent months and especially that week, coming off the heels of the intense cup-filling experience that is the annual ProDoula conference. Being a big person in this season of my life had not particularly dampened my spirit or confidence; I’ve been lots of sizes and it turns out I’m the exact same, no matter what the tag reads in my jeans. I was back to running—albeit slowly, certainly not my 7:40 mile PR by any means—and I was experiencing a lot of exciting things in my professional life. It seemed like exactly the right time to do exactly what that sponsored blog was suggesting: to give my husband a beautiful book of fabulous, curated, sexy-Christmas-themed photographs for the holidays.
And then, I got a one-two punch, straight to the inbox.
I received some emails from an individual lashing out against me…and the weapon of choice was words about my fatness. This person railed against me for being fat. They made fun of specific parts of my body, mocked my running career, expressed the most bitter disdain over my weight. It was as though my fatness, specifically, had set this poor person’s world ablaze.
Just 48 hours later, I woke up to run the Atlanta 10 Miler. I had known in the weeks leading up to the race that the goal was finishing without injury. It’s not glamorous but it’s better than the couch, and it’s what I was capable of at that time. But that morning, I had to wrestle my race bib onto my shirt. I so badly wanted to stay inside, in the dark, where no one could see me.
For the first time a long while in the years of these attacks, I had internalized them. Without realizing it, I had allowed that person to convince me, however temporarily, that I was somehow worse than or less than or lazy or bad. My defenses were down and I took those words into my spirit. I hadn’t realized how much they’d gotten to me until i got out onto the course. As my wave lined up to start the race, I started to cry. I didn’t want to be there, in the cold drizzle, being Fat In Public. I didn’t deserve to be at that event where the “real runners” were. My sons wouldn’t be proud of me. My husband probably thought this race was stupid anyway. I should just take a DNF (Did Not Finish).
I ran the entire ten miles with that person’s words echoing in my head. They felt like burrs in my brain that I somehow had to claw out. Every step of the ten miles was lonely and dreary and uncomfortable. My pace got slower and slower. I felt so defeated.
But as I rounded the corner and picked up my pace to finish strong as I had been taught, I saw my family. Our eleven-year-old spotted me and yelled. When I reached where they were standing, he started running alongside the barrier, cheering all the way to the finish line.
He didn’t care what my time was. He didn’t even know what my time was. He doesn’t know how much I weigh, or what size I wear, or how I cried off and on the whole race because a Meanie meaned some meanness. He was just proud of me. He just loved me. Just like that, just as I was, right there in that moment. And as I looked at my husband standing beside him, it hit me that he did, too. Every day. I feel the same way about him. And that’s why we are married to each other.
When we got home, I sent a message to Meagan O’Neal of Meagan O Photography. I told her…a lot, honestly. I told her this story and how I felt drawn to take boudoir photos to remind myself of the beauty I felt seconds before reading those hateful messages. And Meagan laughed and cried with me! She vowed to make it her mission to help this be a restorative experience. She straight up pledged vigilante justice against the Meanie and intended to use her camera to get it.
I’m happy to say that restorative is exactly how I would describe my experience with Meagan O Photography. Whether you are single and fabulous, in the best shape of your life, newly postpartum and feeling unsure in your own skin, pregnant and wanting to capture your fierceness before you give birth, or entering a different stage of your life, this experience will help you to find a new appreciation for yourself and your own power and beauty. I'm so thankful to say that as the shutter snapped over and over, the session stopped being about taking something back from someone else and started moving me back toward my baseline of self-love. The point is this: the session did something better than "shut up the haters." The session made me not care if they holler, and that's much, much more valuable in the long run.
Meagan is extremely talented artistically, but she is also incredibly attuned to her clients, so much so that I told her she was like the doula of photographers! In fact, I loved my experience so much that Intown Doula and Meagan O Photography are collaborating to bring a FREE boudoir photography sitting fee with Meagan O to one lucky attendee at our client appreciation event, Galentine's Day!