The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7
You may not know that I am a highly sensitive person, quite introverted, and often find it difficult to share my feelings and beliefs with all but my closest friends and confidantes. I don't publicly share that I was seriously bullied in my childhood and teen years, which took a lasting toll on me -- and for many years, I have struggled with "being seen" on social media, with sharing my work and my talents. Most of my life, I suffered from serious anxiety over what others thought of me -- minimizing myself and my work to stay out of the notice of naysayers and critics.
I rarely take or share photos of myself because I would rather stay out of sight, away from criticism. So I take the photos and stay out of the frame -- it's just too much effort to to worry about being perfect enough to avoid criticism. Recently, I decided to take a step out of my comfort zone and post a photo of myself with my new baby.
And then my fears came true. I received an insulting remark about my postpartum body shape from an online marketer selling body products. This trolling comment helped me truly understand that no matter who you are, and what you do, you will be criticized -- there's is no point in hiding. No one deserves to be body shamed. And rather than feeling hurt, I was outraged that anyone would take this approach to sell products.
Then I realized what I've heard others say most of my life but I had the hardest time believing: the critics don't matter.
It took me almost 38 years to understand the truth of this message. Then I realized something else: I am GRATEFUL to have this body, which bore four beautiful children. Yes, I may have a few more pounds to lose. Does that make me less deserving of love? No, it doesn't. I am worthy of my own love and compassion.
It also occurred to me while I have been photographing so many other people, my husband and children pay the price for my decision to stay out of photos -- they have almost no photos of me. And that's really unfair. How will they remember how I looked when they were children? Many years from now, today's photos will be priceless treasures. I tell this to my clients all the time. What about my family?
So, I set up a photo session with my husband and had him photograph me.
I LOVED THE PHOTOS! I had forgotten how incredibly empowering it is to be beautifully photographed. I want to give this gift to other women as well -- we all deserve to have beautiful photos of ourselves. Our children and families deserve these, too.
This inspired me to start offering women's wellness sessions -- beautiful portrait sessions to celebrate the gifts we are given -- the gift of life being the most important. These sessions will include both personal branding photos for social media/business use and gorgeous portraits for women and their families. As a mom and a small business owner, I know how closely entwined business and personal lives are, so I am including both in the session options.
As I thought of my own gifts, the gift of gratitude was one of the most prevalent -- there are so many things I have to be thankful for. I'd like to share a few here:
- I am so grateful for my wonderful, kind, and sensitive husband of 11 years, Andrew. He is my true love, my dearest friend, my soul mate. He gently encourages me to be my best and sees the beauty inside of me when I can't see it myself.
- I am so grateful for my four incredible little boys. It is rarely easy to be a parent and some days are really challenging, but I am grateful to have been entrusted with these four lives. I am so grateful to be able to work from home and spend much more quality time with them than I could before, when work travel or long commutes kept me away from home a significant amount of time.
- I am so grateful to have come from a loving family with amazing parents and many siblings that are my biggest cheerleaders.
- I am so grateful for my sensitivity and empathy. These are incredible gifts because they give me so much compassion and love for others and allow me to fully experience other people's humanity with them.
- I am grateful for the gift of nourishing food. I was very ill with debilitating migraines and a host of symptoms for 22 years in my life, only to find out at age 28 that I actually had food allergies. I am so grateful that I found out the root cause of my illness. I love to cook and eat from scratch, whole food meals. I feel well most days and am grateful that the food I eat has helped make me strong and healthy.
The story of who I am has changed in my own mind when I realized that I am empowered to live a full, beautiful life using my gifts -- that I do not need to hide. I deserve to exist in photos because my life matters. Yours does, too. I encourage you to have beautiful portraits taken as well. We all deserve to shine.
Annie Dash Photography is located in Sellersburg, Indiana and specializes in natural light portraits. If you'd like session availability and pricing information for women's wellness portrait sessions, please get in touch. I would love to work with you!
Phone: (502) 208-8756