I have some amazing people around me. A good friend Aubra (MMABarbie) has been a big driving force behind organizing a photo shoot for me after Worlds. My initial idea was to have some nice photos of me in a gi to say thank you to my sponsors.
But before I knew it, I was getting my hair and make up done by Karla Abdo from Karismatik Beauty, styled by Aubra and her cousin Bronwyn from Cinema Models and having my photos taken by the very talented Darrell Caruana and Chris from Glimmarpics Photography.
We started off with casual photos in my gi with the Mundials medal. Easy enough huh?
I have a few talents, but posing on front of a camera ain’t one of them! It gave me a whole new appreciation for models. I definitely struggled with instructions… ‘look happy, but not too smiley’, ‘more natural’, ‘look sexy’, ‘close your mouth’, ‘open your mouth’, ‘more feminine’, ‘lean with your body, but not your face’… and on it went…
I only have 2 looks. One is the bitch face. The other one is laughing so hard that all you can see is my wrinkles. I was also uncomfortable. And goddamn, I was hungry. When do models eat? Oh, that’s right, they don’t…
An hour into the shoot I realised that it was going to be harder than I ever thought. Posing is not easy. Not being good at it, makes it a lot harder. All the make up, hair and ‘costume’ changes turned it into a very long day.
Before the shoot, I was very clear in how I wanted to be portrayed…strong, confident, sporty, yet feminine and definitely not slutty.
I was lucky enough to have Aubra there to guide and encourage me all the way, and it wasn’t until half way through that a few things hit me pretty hard and clear, like a slap in the face.
I really needed to give myself permission to let go. I needed to know it was ok to feel attractive and strong and beautiful. I needed to stop being self-conscious of my body and caring that my midriff was exposed for everyone to see. I needed to stop caring about my wrinkles. I had let go of the idea that my hair was too high or my make up was too strong. I had to stop caring what people would think of me. I had to give myself a chance to laugh and be silly, and not worry that some fat rolls would be showing. I had to believe that I am ok just the way I am.
I really needed to stop judging myself, because … NO ONE else seemed to be.
It was a pretty deep lesson that I had to learn pretty quickly. I never thought that something as seemingly superficial as a photo shoot, would have such a profound effect on me. In a way, it was one of the most empowering experiences in a long time!
I now have some amazing pictures, that I am sure I will look at fondly in 10 years time, no matter how critical I am of myself now. The team I got to work with was the most incredible group of people. They were honest, straight to the point, yet caring, loving and damn good at what they do.
I hope that each and every female has a chance just once in their lifetime to let go the way I gave myself permission to. Do a photo shoot, give yourself a gift, sit in a spa, spend time meditating, work out and sweat a lot, learn how to apply make up, paint, sky dive…whatever it is, that makes YOU happy and free.
I hope that at some stage each and everyone of you accepts yourself for WHO YOU ARE and realise that each one of us is beautiful in their own way. I know some may be repulsed by my muscular build. And that is ok. I am so happy to say that I’m PROUD, because it represents the hard work I put into something I love.
I sometimes wish I could look at myself in the same way I see others. I ALWAYS find something amazing and beautiful in another person. Whether you are big, small, tall, fat, skinny, white, black, stumpy or lean does not have the slightest effect on how beautiful you are.
So enjoy a small selection of my photos with a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes.
Looking at them will forever make me smile, as I realise how much I’ve learnt about myself in such a short time. I am determined to judge me less, love me more and always be proud of where I am.
Glimmarpics Photography and Darrell Caruana
Karismatik Beauty and Karla Abdo