Toronto boudoir photography

I am my biggest cheerleader but I am also my worst enemy.

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion. Read the first post here

If I had listened I wouldn’t have been able to find happiness and confidence within myself to truly love who I am.

I am my biggest cheerleader but I am also my worst enemy.

 
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There are so many factors in society that contribute to my marginalization. I am a woman, I am from Jamaica, I am of mixed race.

Throughout my life, I have faced discrimination for all the above characteristics, all of which have thrown me off kilter, beat down my confidence, made me questions my identity and made me seriously doubt who I am.

I had times that were so dark and lonely that, unfortunately, only my damaged mind and broken heart were there to keep me company.

It wasn’t until I was able to work on myself, with help, that I was able to realize that it was the constant negative self-talk festering in my mind that was making me crumble into nothingness.

It took a really long time for me to accept that I had the power to be my biggest fan even if I were being my biggest roadblock.

I used to resent the people closest to me for not meeting my expectations and not being there to save me from my mind. But choosing to be in charge of my own outcomes and happiness as opposed to relying on others was the biggest contributing factor to reaching the self-acceptance and happiness that I am working towards today.

 
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I know that I will always be a work in progress and I totally accept that. However, I have now found beauty in my flaws and in my growth. I have stopped listening to the side of myself that constantly wants to hold me back from evolving as the beautiful human I am and I now place the ride or die version of Nathanielle at the forefront.

It ain't about time, it is about priorities!

Scandals, we need to talk! We have a big nowadays' problem (well we have more than one: #zerowaste, #prayforsudan, we unfortunately could add more to the list) and this problem is called “I don't have the time". It sounds familiar, doesn't it? Isn't it a sentence we hear more and more when we try to meet with friends or create professional collaborations?

 
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The “I am too busy” symptom

Don’t get me wrong, with all of those life opportunities people are getting busier and it is fantastic. Travelling is easier, we have so many tools to realize our projects and ideas, even dating is one swipe away from being effortless. It will be a nonsense to not grab life by the balls! But unfortunately we have the tendency to use “I don't have the time” too often as an excuse instead of being straight forward and saying “No”.

As humans being time is all we have, life is only about the time we have left before it is too late. So it is not truly about the time, it is about priorities.

It is fine to not wanted to be part of whatever someone is offering you but remember, no mater the excuse you have, it is always better to be as honest as possible without hurting the person's feelings or ego. If you have time to watch Netflix, then you have time to do anything else (priorities my friend!). If it is too difficult for you to say “No”, you can always find alternatives:

  • This is not a priority for me.

  • Let me think about it and get back to you if I change my mind.

  • I don’t have the budget for it.

  • I would prefer to enjoy some me-time tonight.

But honestly, you don't even have to give an excuse, you can decline politely: “Thanks for thinking of me but I will pass” (with a friendly and cute emoji). After all, you don't owe anything to anyone.

 
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The importance of saying “NO”

Two things happen when people do not dare to decline:

  • They disappear, cut communication without telling you what was the problem. FYI, this is unacceptable, rude, unprofessional and happened to us too many times. We hope for you guys you will never get stood up and if it did happen to you, we are sorry cause it sucks!

  • They don't put the effort to do the work they are supposed to do, which creates delays and unnecessary stress.

It is important to see any relationship as a win-win situation. Being honest and telling someone "No" will save you a lot of headaches, plus you will not waste the time of your interlocutor who is probably trying to plan things around YOUR schedule to make his/her project comes to life. If this person is ready to make time for you then you have to do the same…

Not rushing your decision to be part of it or not will help to avoid any negative issues. Take a couple of days to think about it, you do not have to give an answer right away! See if you want/can actually be part of a project or event. If it is for a professional collaboration for example, ask yourself what you can bring to this new business relationship and how does it benefit you.

Commitment is a virtue

If you commit to something avoid changing your mind in the middle of the road, unless you have a very good and honest excuse. The lack of motivation should not make you run away from your responsibilities!

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Let's talk about consent!

Guest post by Eden Wine - Mindset Consultant

 With the advent of the “Me Too” and “Times Up” era, we must learn the nuances of “Consent” so we can best equip ourselves to effectively navigate our relationships.

 
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It’s time to create a clear definition of what consent means to us, and it’s important to:

  • understand our rights when it comes to giving and receiving consent;

  • solidify our true introspective understanding of our personal boundaries; and

  • learn about and respect how to best support other people’s boundaries. 

HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE ALLOWED YOUR BOUNDARIES TO BE CROSSED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PLEASing OTHERS OR IN THE ATTEMPT OF “FEELING BEAUTIFUL”? WELL I HAVE.

When I was 14, I suddenly became well endowed in the derriere department. Now, given the location of this development, I was completely unaware of its existence. I only came to know about my “ass-et” because of my male peers. When walking down the hallway of my high school, adorned in a school uniform, I was consistently greeted by unsolicited slaps, grabs, and fondles. I wasn’t even able to acknowledge this new part of my body before it was claimed by others and objectified. Since this was one of the first experiences I had in my developing body, I was trained to think that this behaviour was acceptable.

As a young teen, I was quickly learning that it was okay for me to be caressed without consent. This, however, is not true.

We, as humans, have exclusive rights to our own bodies.

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It is our fundamental obligation to define boundaries for ourselves and to feel comfortable and assured when voicing such boundaries. We are not owned by anyone and no one is entitled to us or any part of us. In fact, the right we have to our own bodies is grounded in and protected by law.

HOW ARE OUR RIGHTS PROTECTED?

The Constitutions and Criminal Codes of many (if not most) developed countries have specific and designated laws that are geared towards protecting the sanctity of consent. Now, I’m no expert in the laws of the world at large, but I know Canada very carefully preserves the notion of consent into its legislation and case law. For example, section 273.1(1) of the Canadian Criminal Code dictates that sexual activity is ONLY legal when both parties consent and where “voluntary agreement” is obtained. Both parties means BOTH parties. In fact, the “two to tango” phraseology has never been more apropos. Sure, there will be nuances in courting and dating when flirting plays a role though subliminal and subtle body language, but that does not dismiss the importance of ensuring that BOTH parties are consenting and, even more than that, consenting the WHOLE time. 

LET’S THINK ABOUT AND DEFINE OUR BOUNDARIES AND RESPECT OTHER PEOPLE’S BOUNDARIES TOO! #PlatinumRule 

Consent is truly grounding yourself in your beliefs and saying “yes” when an activity  (any activity really) feels right without a shadow of a doubt. This could apply to any sexual encounter or even as something as simple as a hug.

For all people alike, the onus is on us to:

  • know and learn our boundaries;

  • feel secure and confident in our ability to voice our boundaries; and,

  • to inquire and respect other people’s boundaries. In the end, it is each of us who have exclusive rights to our own person and it is our obligation to protect such rights with the entirety of our being.

DISCLAIMER

Eden Wine is presently a non-practicing lawyer. She was called to the Ontario Bar in June 2018 and has since been a member of the Law Society of Ontario.

The content of this article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Readers of this article are advised to seek specific legal advice by contacting independent legal counsel regarding any specific legal issues. Neither the author, nor Scandaleuse Photography warrant or guarantee the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information in this article or on Scandaleuse Photography’s website. The content of this article is current as of the original date of publication, and should not be relied upon as accurate, timely, or fit for any particular purpose.

Take control of your self-image

Originally written for The Beach Psychotherapy in Toronto

We never see ourselves the way we really are. And that could be okay if we didn’t have a tendency to turn towards negative feelings about our own image. Let’s be real, rare are the people who don’t fall into self-criticism.

Three years ago when we started Scandaleuse Photography, we didn’t know how much we would help women struggling with their self-perception. Women that can’t stand looking in the mirror and end up avoiding them at all costs. Women who think they are never good enough or who got their self-respect stolen from them. Women who feel stuck, who lack the amazing feeling of accomplishment that gives you butterflies and the motivation to keep growing and improving.

Because the relationship you have with yourself starts on the physical aspect and can impact everything else in your life.

Your femininity is a source of positive energy you need to tap into.

 
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First things first: you are not alone. At least 1 out 5 Canadian women are not happy with the way they look. That is huge. There is a certain pressure society lays out for us that implies, or rather screams at us, that the definition of beauty is to be thin and flawless. Seeing this very day, It is very difficult not to compare yourself to these standards and feel miserable if you think you don’t match them.

You are your best ally and your worst enemy. Getting in touch with yourself is essential for a positive mind growth and it starts with celebrating your own kind of beauty and femininity, your way.

That’s right, your version of being feminine. Because there isn’t just one perfect way, you can twist it and morph it making it your own.

Let us tell you a little story. When we photographed Lea, she told us she refused to see herself as attractive. She could see it through her partners’ eyes, but couldn’t believe it from her own perspective. Through her session, she finally managed to see that she was beautiful with every aspect of her body. Things she had considered “flaws” such as, “her asymmetrical breasts, soft belly, cellulite and hair”

Sometimes you need to see yourself from another pair of eyes to ditch the distorted image you have of yourself.

If you have one day in which you feel even a tiny bit good about yourself, channel it 500% and use it as a constant strength. Because while we all have moments when we feel not so good about ourselves, we also have days when, hey, we’re actually okay. It could be as simple as having a good hair day or a little success like changed that light bulb that had been burnt out for months. Take this feeling, hold it tight and nurture the hell out of it.

Take Katie as an example, a lovely woman with a physical disability. She decided to not let this get it the way and to celebrate her true self. It started slowly, one step at a time with a better diet and focusing on improving her range of motion. She put herself on a good path, wanting to make of her goals come true: showing it to the world. That’s when she called us. She said it herself “I am ready to challenge what people expect. You are not invisible, you are worthy.”

 

If this speaks to you already, join us in our next event in Toronto!

 

What about when someone stole and damaged your self-love?

 
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This is Erica’s story. Erica suffered from the hatred of a man, a family member for years. While she managed to escape, it wasn’t without consequences: this experience completely destroyed her self-esteem. She told us she didn’t have control of her own image anymore. We met completely randomly and she gathered the courage to challenge herself with a boudoir session.

It wasn’t easy. We saw her shake, hesitate and even tear up but she did it. Posing in front of the lens made her realize that the qualities she was admiring in others were also part of her.

She was able to win back what she thought was gone forever and shout out to the whole world “I will never feel ashamed to be me anymore.”

This feeling of accomplishment is a great push to keep going, you end up craving it and you’ll do anything to keep creating and experiencing it.

The truth is: once you get the courage to show yourself and vulnerable in lingerie in front of “strangers”, you’re left with an empowering feeling of “I can do anything”.  Everyone needs to challenge themselves on different levels. It makes you want to keep going, it helps you grow and become more assertive, thus more confident. You end up creating a cycle of positive vibes which will lead you to move mountains.

Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend, because after all, YOU are your best friend. If there is one thing you need to take away from this post is that you only have one body and one mind; it’s YOURS to make use out of it.

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Do not let procrastination take over!

Procrastination is a big and scary word, nobody likes to be told or think they are being lazy. But we all know how easy it is to let ourselves go in any aspects of our life: relationship, life goals, business… It does not mean we are actually lazy or we do not care anymore, usually it is something we build with time and without noticing. Slowly but surely we have been developing bad habits and at some point it just hits us, trust me when I say it is an awful feeling!

Starting 2019 with "Panache”

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I wanted to start 2019 in style, so beginning of January I wrote down a lot of new goals in my notebook, I especially wanted to work on being more self-disciplined and I was 100% motivated to achieve it. One of the first one was to travel alone: BAM! Two weeks later I was in Costa Rica by myself, celebrating my birthday and making new friends (I even met a new gorgeous scandal for a boudoir shoot). I came back to Toronto with clearer thoughts, new ideas and ready to conquer the world!

By the way, this feeling happens when you get out of your confort zone and try new experiences. Yes it is scary at first but once it is done, you feel so powerful and confident; you can do everything.

Hit me baby one more time

I kept that fire inside me until about two weeks ago when I started feeling down, unmotivated and not really healthy. Then few days ago it just hit me (and man, it was painful, I felt guilty!): I realized I have been letting myself go for a few months. Yes I was full of ideas and new goals but I wasn't working to make them happen. Business was busy, which was a bit unbelievable for winter time, so I focused on the tasks I had to do, I focused too much on the short term and forgot about long term plans. I have slowly been pushing back projects I was supposed to work on or business skills I wanted to learn. Those bad habits affected not only my business life but my personal one too:

  • I stopped cooking healthy meals (I am a vegetarian so I have to be careful to replace properly the nutrients I don't get from meat anymore), the result: iron deficiency = a week an a half of intense migraines and fatigue.

  • I replaced reading by watching tv shows (Netflix is temptation!).

  • My workout has been the same for the past 2 months instead of learning new fitness and aerial silk tricks.

  • Do you remember my 2019 goals I was talking to you about? Well I haven't opened that notebook since I wrote them in!

To make it short, I STOPPED LEARNING…

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Your brain is a muscle

We always remember to feed our body. If we don't, it doesn't take too much time before having a low energy, headaches, dizziness… But we have the tendency to forget our brain is a muscle we need to take care of. We need to work it out and feed it with knowledge if we do not want to see negative effects on the long term.

When you make your passion a business, unfortunately you can easily lose your creativity, you have to challenge yourself all the time: I am not gonna lie, it can be very tiring… So you take a break, you relax. And it's when you let go too much you start building procrastination. All it takes is to find the perfect balance between work and pleasure. I am not able to remember the last time I watched a documentary, discovered a new photographer, went to an art exhibition or learn something new. I am not a lazy person, I am the opposite: always working hard, curious and motivated. But somewhere and for some reasons on the road, procrastination showed up and stayed warm and cozy.

The first step is to notice

Procrastination's guilt is an awful feeling. So when you catch yourself procrastinating for too long you have to change your activity right away, just stop and do something that feels right! If this step is too difficult for you then ask someone in your loved ones who will let you know if you f**k up. I try to not beat myself up because nobody is perfect but I refuse to use it as an excuse to stay in this vicious circle.

The secret against laziness:

Some of you are probably gonna feel disappointed because I know you are waiting to read an advice which will change your life… Please do not hate me but unfortunately there is no magic trick! You have to force yourself to do stuff! Whatever it is you try to achieve, you have to kick your own butt to be successful. FIND YOUR OWN MOTIVATION.

 
 

Use your brain!

Never stop learning, think, have ideas, keep yourself active, build up your energy and consider your body as a temple because if you are not healthy then it will be difficult to be proactive.

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