acceptance

Dealing with trauma via boudoir photography

A few months ago, we flew back to our home country, France, to do one of our Boudoir Bash in Paris. We met a lot of wonderful Frenchies there, including the exquisite Nora. The first time we talked with her on Skype, she opened up right away about her motivations to do a shoot and her story moved us.

 
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Having someone telling you about her past is quite emotional and this is why we love being boudoir photographers. It gives us the opportunity to work and help people to win back their confidence and even better, their self-love.

We are no therapists but we know that in some cases, photography can help heal consequences of a traumatic event such as abuse, assault, harassment and other traumas who have left you confused about who you can see yourself.

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My name is Nora, this is my story…

“Let's start talking about my fear… I know, pretty unusual for people who know me!

My biggest fear is actually one of my family member, so it makes it really complicated to move forward, to liberate myself from this situation. Even though I haven't seen this person in years, I know that, deep inside, we might see each other again.

Yes, I grew up but I still have that fear to see his face, the way he looked at me, or even worse, to awake those bitter memories of his physical and psychological hits.

All of those years by his side can be summed up with tears and this feeling of helplessness against a man way stronger than me. To me, it sounds like a trivial story, so I tell myself “there is probably worse stories than mine.”

I grew up surrounded with machismo & the “alpha male” spirit. One day I had no other choice but to escape this life. I gathered up my strength and I left. I needed to get away as far as I could from this person, this source of fear. It was love that helped me to take this first step and put a temporary "band-aid” on what was haunting me.

Inevitably, the consequences of this sitution with this member of my family remove completement all of my self-esteem.

Being constantly put down during the first decade of your life makes you forgetting about who you are very quickly. However, time goes by and we try to rebuild ourselves after all, even if we have to put our loved ones aside.

I do not have this person in my life anymore. I have been with someone who listens to me and understands my past, who pushes me to thrive as much as I want for the past few years.

With time and maybe without noticing it, I was attracted by those women who are self-confident and whom by art, politic and culture were able to accept themselves the way they are. This is how I had the idea to use boudoir photography as a way to heal myself.

 
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The Boudoir Shoot

What an unforgettable experience! A moment of peace where I was able to forget about my problems, all of my "flaws” and more importantly, my demons. It was just a magical therapy!

Posing in front of the lens made me realize that the qualities I was admiring in others were also part of me. I was able to win back what I thought was gone forever and shout out to the whole world “I will never feel ashamed to be myself anymore.

This magical moment had a real positive impact on my life and I don't want to stop here as I have more ideas to keep feeling unstoppable. I have to say it would have been much harder without Fanny and Juliette's help.

“I am beautiful”

Thank you to the man who I have been sharing my life for the past 5 years, it is because of him I am still thriving!


FRENCH VERSION

Je m’appelle Nora, voici mon histoire

Commençons par parler de ma peur, chose inhabituelle pour ceux qui me connaissent je sais.

Ma première peur, la plus grande, est un membre de ma famille. C'est donc compliqué de s'en défaire, de s'émanciper, car même si je ne l'ai pas vu depuis de nombreuses années, je sais qu'au fond de moi nous nous reverrons un jour sûrement.

Oui, j'ai beau avoir grandi, j'ai toujours cette hantise de revoir son visage, son regard et surtout de réveiller amèrement les souvenirs de ses coups tant psychologiques que physiques.

Tout ce temps à se côtoyer durant toutes ces années se résume aux pleurs ainsi qu'à un sentiment d'impuissance face à un homme bien plus fort que moi. Mon histoire me parait banale et je me dis alors "qu'il y a certainement pire que moi".

J'ai donc grandi dans ce contexte de machisme, du "male alpha" à la maison. Un jour j'ai eu la force de m'enfuir loin de cette vie, je n'avais plus le choix, il fallait mettre une réelle distance avec ce qui incarnait cette peur, une rencontre amoureuse m'a confortée évidemment dans cette démarche. Ce qui m'a permis de mettre dans un premier temps une sorte de "pansement" sur ce mal qui me poursuivait. Fatalement, ces déboires familiaux, dû à cet individu principalement, m'ont enlevé toute estime de moi.

Être constamment rabaissé durant vos premières décennies de vie vous font "très vite" oublier qui vous êtes, mais le temps passe et on tente malgré tout de se construire même si cela implique de (se) priver (de) ses proches.

Je ne partage plus ma vie avec cette personne avec qui j'étais partie à l'époque. Depuis quelques années je suis avec quelqu'un qui m'encourage à m'épanouir comme je l'entends, il a particulièrement su m'écouter et me comprendre. Inconsciemment peut-être, je me suis doucement intéressée à ces femmes qui s'assumaient, s'acceptaient au travers de diverses façons (art/politique/culture). L'idée d'accepter mon image et de faire un shooting photo m'est alors venu.

La séance Boudoir

Une expérience inoubliable ! Un moment où j'ai oublié tous mes soucis, tous mes (potentiels) défauts et surtout, tous mes démons ! Ce fût ni plus ni moins une thérapie magique.

En se prêtant au "jeu de l'objectif", j'ai pu constater que ce que je pouvais admirer chez les autres, je pouvais aussi l'apprécier et le retrouver chez moi. Je pense avoir, presque malgré moi, crié aux monde entier "je suis moi et n'en aurais certainement plus honte !".

Ce moment "magique" m'a réellement fait du bien, m'a donné d'autres idées encore et rien de tout ça n'aurait été si parfait sans Fanny et Juliette.

" Je suis belle "

Un énorme merci à l'homme qui partage ma vie depuis plus de 5 ans, grâce à lui je grandis encore!

Coffee Talk - My childhood in a psychiatric clinic

I have lived in a psychiatric clinic for 10 years and I had a wonderful childhood... I know what you are asking yourself: WHY. HOW. I can feel your curiosity growing. I am very tempted to keep the mystery and not giving you any details but if so, it would not be a blog article.

Let me put your confusion away... Hi, Fanny writing here and this is my story!

 
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How it began?

My mom was working in this clinic in France for over 20 years. Her job was to help patients with their creativity, through arts and relaxation. She was working with people suffering of alcoholism, anorexia / bulimia, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder and other mental illnesses. The clinic was a big property with a park, a little forest, two manors, few houses for employees and other structures.

A benefit from her job was to be able to rent, for a very small amount, one of those houses and live on site. I was 5 when we moved in. The house was very small, I had my own little bedroom but my mom was living in the living room, not the best but we were happy.

The mystery is over, as you can read I wasn't there because of mental issues. My only problem was to be an heavy sleepwalker when I was young (which made me several times getting ready for school at midnight and even made my mom running after me at night in the street).

I was never bored

Even if we were living in the city, the clinic had a lot of greenery and I spent my time outside as much as I could. From climbing trees and building shacks, to rescuing little animals such as birds, mice, cats and even a dog once (you could have called me Snow White without the great voice), I could not get bored. I remember exploring the clinic like if I was adventurer or hiding from people I was on a mission. I build slides from wooden boards, which wasn't a success: my friend ended up with a 1 cm splinter in his bum.  And when I needed some quite time to relax or sulk, I was always going to the same tree. That was my spot, my peaceful location and it broke my heart when I heard they destroyed it few years ago.

Even if the patients there had severe mental illnesses, everybody knew me and I never felt any insecurity, never got into trouble even though I was creating them sometimes. As an only child, it was pretty easy for me to find creative ways to spend my free times when I didn't have my friends to play with me. My favourite activity was to block the paths people where walking on, hide in trees and scare them when they were close enough. Did people kept calling me a sweet angel after that? Actually yes they did!

Colourful personalties

 
 
  • The other galaxy: One of the patient believed my mom was the queen of an alien tribe from an unknown planet, far away from our galaxy. But she sweared to never revealed my mom's secret!

  • Power rangers: Another person believed he was one of the Power Rangers. I remember hearing that guy every morning in the park, screaming one of their famous lines and fighting against the air. This guy always made my mornings brighter!

  • The one with the big heart: My mom had the authorization to bring a small group to the farmers market every Wednesday. One day on the way to the location, one of the patient fell in love with a big red strawberry stuffed toy and decided to love it for the rest of his life!

I remember people being happy but unfortunately I also heard and saw some dramatic moments, things such has death and violence I was too young to fully understand.

Acceptance you will learn

The great part of growing up in this type of environment, surrendered by psychological illnesses was I had to learn and understand that sometimes the brain does not work properly and people are suffering from it. I learnt to smile at instead of making fun of people who are different. It taught me acceptance, kindness and opened my mind on topics that can be quit taboo. 

I am so grateful to have had the chance to experiment it and build all of those beautiful memories of my childhood!

 

My favourite song about mental disorders: Olivia Ruiz - Le Tango Du Qui

 

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