Boudoir Photography Toronto

First it hurts, then it changes you.

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 more on the blog!

If I had listened to the thoughts of doubt and negativity in my head, I would have never had the courage to reinvent my life.

There’s something to be said about being forced to move on from a relationship that I knew wasn’t working and gaining the courage to start a whole new life that wasn’t in my plans.   

 
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I started the journey of self reinvention at the age of 39 shortly after I received my walking papers from my ex wife. I didn’t move on gracefully.  The relationship hadn’t been working for a long time really so it shouldn’t have been a surprise.  On the outside it looked like I had it all; the great career, a large home, fancy car - the works. But, inside I was empty and unfulfilled. The scariest part was leaving behind this comfortable life that I had built. Would I ever find love again at my age? How was I going to start over as I approached midlife?

A few months into my newly single life I left the pitty party behind and began to refocus on myself. I now had the chance to  live a more authentic existence and I vowed that I would get it right this time around.

What did this mean? Happiness. I was no longer going to do things or be with anyone that would make me unhappy. It was time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

 
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At the age of 40 I left my high paying corporate job to do something that filled my heart rather than my pockets. I tried new things. I took better care of myself mentally and physically. I travelled on my own. I met the love of my life while on vacation and moved to another province to be with her. I went back to school to learn new skills and another language. A baby soon followed at the age of 42.

I now have a supportive partner who is in love with me and is proud to be by my side. I have my own business doing something that I love. I speak another language and I'm a proud mom of a 2.5 year old daughter that dances like nobody's watching. She's magic. My life is magic. Midlife is magic.

There is this saying that I love and it says “First it hurts, then it changes you.” It’s amazing how allowing yourself to feel and own the pain of hurt or disappointment can change your life for the better.

I’m now a 45 year old sex positive, body positive, queer woman who is living her best life. I celebrate my perfectly imperfect body because it can move and I’m healthy. I nurtured and birthed another human being with 42 year old eggs. How magical and awesome is that? 

Because the process of life reinvention has made me a more courageous and confident person, I decided to start a blog. The goal of this blog is to empower and inspire other midlife moms who feel like they’re undesirable, lost and losing time to rediscover and reinvent themselves. Just like I did.

I once thought that I was too old to start over. I soon realized that even if I had only one day left on this earth, I’d rather spend it happy than with sadness and regret.

People like to say that life is short. It’s really not. Life is long and at midlife you have so much life to live. Why live the rest of your life unhappy when you can live everyday celebrating it?

If I had listened to the negative thoughts in my head that told me I was too old to start over again, I would have never had the courage to reinvent my life for the better. Tackling the fear of the uncomfortable is what lead me to the bliss.

 
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Policing Black women’s hair has been a constant battle many of us have faced.

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.

If I had listened, I wouldn’t have cut my hair.

I have always played it safe.
Always.

 
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As women, we have been conditioned to believe that long hair is a sign of our femininity. Especially as a Black woman, our hair is sacred. There are so many stories and beautiful memories we have of our individual hair journeys. Unfortunately, there are moments in our stories that aren’t pleasant.

Policing Black women’s hair has been a constant battle many of us have faced.

I remember feeling so excited to get my hair done but then secretly worrying about getting asked questions like “Is your hair real? Why do you change it so often? Can you wash it like normal hair?” Once someone told me, “you can't keep changing your hair like that. It makes you look unprofessional.”

For far too long, I listened. I played it safe. And because I was listening, I was holding myself back from being the sexiest, happiest, and most confident version of myself. 

I never cared much about Rihanna, but I loved how she rocked her hair. At one point she cut it short and I remember my eyes felt like they were falling out of my head because I SO wanted to do that. But I didn’t. Why? For starters, my mom didn’t think it was a good idea. Like I mentioned before, long hair is a sign of being a sensual woman and short hair to some means your edgy, reckless, wild, etc.

3 years later I moved out with my boyfriend. I posted a picture on Instagram of my hair pinned back and I got so many compliments. The one that stood out, encouraged me to make the biggest hair decision ever. “OMG! Did you cut your hair? It looks amazing!”

 
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I remember that moment so clearly. I instantly started scrolling through Instagram for some hair inspiration and came across ‘The Cutlife’. I was freaking out!

I saw so many beautiful Black women with short hair. Fades, bobs, bald...these were my people! Without hesitation, I found the first stylist available and booked an appointment to cut my hair.

There was something so incredibly liberating about feeling my hair fall on my cape. I felt like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon.

Unfortunately, she totally botched it but when I did find the right stylist to fix it, I saw a woman in the mirror I fell so in love with.

My hair has become a signature component of my brand. I feel free, fun, confident, and powerful. To maintain its freshness, it must be cut every week!

If I had listened to what others had to say about women with short hair, I truly don’t believe I would be the version of myself I am today. If you’re reading this and have been debating to try a new look but question if it’s professional enough or to society’s standards, listen to me when I say FORGET WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY! DO YOU! BE YOU! AND LOVE YOU!

You’ll thank yourself later.

I had this constant fear preventing me from actually living. If I died tomorrow, what would be my regrets?

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 them all!

If I had listened, I would never have become the woman I am today.

I am a stubborn person who has the unfortunate habit of listening to her intuition and taking risks. That's why I decided to write three situations when I chose to listen to myself rather than follow a logical path. Those ended up being the most decisive moments in my life.

 
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When I left the family home

I come from a family where work is more important than anything else. My mother found me my first job as a maid in a hotel at 15 years old and I stayed there for over 8 years.

All family discussions revolved around this hotel. I was so unhappy for so long, my life became more unbearable every day.

I was too afraid of my parents’ reaction if I were to leave that I had to find a way to avoid justifying myself. I had to leave my home.

I didn’t have much money or furniture other than what was in my room. In order to quickly raise funds for my project, I sold my car and shared a place with a friend. I moved out in February 1999 and in April 2000 I left my job. The year following this decision was even more difficult. I was working part-time in a clothing store, but, I was "FREE".

Free from the pressure of my parents, free from work that made me sick, but most importantly, free to do what I wanted to do and free to become everything I wanted. I never regretted this decision and my parents finally understood that I wanted other things in my life.

When I got my heart broken and lost a friend

Around the same time, I got my heart broken. I am aware now that it was mostly because of my fear, my low self-esteem and lack of experience. He didn’t only break my heart into a million pieces, but it also made me physically sick.

Fear was my biggest enemy. It prevented me from having a beautiful story to share and fulfilling this dream of having someone close to me, even for a moment.

To top it all off, I also lost a dear friend. A man who, the first night of his retirement, died of an aneurysm. He had worked all his life to support his family, whom he didn’t see very often because he was so dedicated to his job. The days before his death, he told me how eager he was to rest, to "cut wood" at his cottage, take time for his family, and so on. He didn’t even have the chance to live one of those moments because he died just before. It was a wake-up call.

I was Working non-stop, doing exactly what was expected of me and I had this constant fear preventing me from actually living. If I died tomorrow, what would be my regrets?

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I had way too many dreams to be yet fulfilled so I decided to take care of myself. I moved alone in my own apartment and I found a job that would allow me to achieve two of my three greatest dreams, sing and travel.

The third, finding my life partner is still a dream. The lifestyle choices I made so far haven't led me there yet, I hope to get there someday.

When I Left my roots, my family and my friends.

In my mid-30s, I felt like I was going around in circles. Even though I had been told that I had everything I needed to be happy, I felt the thirst for life

The anger that often gave me the boost I needed to move forward was getting stronger on a daily basis. It was time to make a decision and I decided to leave everything behind.

I left my family, my friends and my job aka financial safety net, just because I needed to see what was on the other side of the fence. It was tough, especially on the social aspect: at 35, you can’t create a social network as easily as in your 20's but, I didn’t give up and worked hard to build a life for myself. It's been 8 years since I left my roots and I have never regretted it.

Life challenges us every day but I like to create mine. It's weird isn’t it? It’s as if the events of everyday life were not enough for me.

People often think and plan their major life events such as their wedding or the birth of their child with a good idea of what they want. Me, I only know two things. The song at my funeral is going to be Franck Sinatra's "My Way" and my funeral epitaph will look like "Thanks my God, it's finally over, thank you for not waking me up."

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VIDEO | Is it wrong to want to feel sexy?

Short answer: Absolutely not.

The truth is: there shouldn’t be anything wrong with the word “sexy” nowadays since it can mean a lot of different things. It is perfectly normal to want to sexy, and you can learn why in the video below:

Don’t be scared to say it out loud, sexy beast!

Camera Roll - April 2018

We made April rhyme with ORGANIZATION. We managed to do SO many cool things in the span of 4 weeks, I feel like we deserve a solid high five here.

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We caught our creativity back with Jessie Lam & Carla Catherwood

Remember, we wrote a post about how we were feeling in a funk because we were so caught up in administration duties. We were lucky to meet two beautiful ladies and create very cool shoots with them. Jessie Lam is a yoga master who let us cover her in flower and Carla Catherwood is the fantastic CEO of Army Of Sass and we made her fly.

ChoqFm welcomed us in their studio

We had the great opportunity to talk on the radio with ChoqFm and it was played every day for a week during rush hour, and that was pretty sweet. Thank you Ami for this! (Interview in French)

We got our first branded goodies!

Deanna Colosimo, our illustrator extraordinaire, striked again and helped us create our first branded tote bags. We are so thankful and we feel so proud to walk around with our Scandaleuse tote bags. Thank you Deanna!

We hosted our first bridal workshop: So you're Engaged, now what?

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After weeks and weeks of putting this together, we finally made it to the big day with our wedding division. We rolled up our sleeves, gather a great team of vendors, gathered our courage and spoke in public again. It wasn't easy, a lot of sleepless nights were involved but these split seconds of intense pride watching everything getting together because of us were magical. The after-show wine was the best ever.

The Boudoir Circus got new babies!

After the aerial silks, we got a chance to capture aerial hoop, chains & contorsion with 3 stunning ladies. Can't wait to show you all of these!

We started vlogging and the first two are out!

I have a more or less secret passion for vlogs and it was about time we did our own. It gives you a chance to get to know us a little better and , honestly, even though they're not perfect, I am so glad we did it, they make such a great keepsake of our adventures

France, here we come!

We are starting to plan a trip to France to meet all of our French Scandals! And while this is just at the "let's figure it out" stage, we are getting pretty excited and are really hoping to make it work!

Can't wait to see what May has in stock for us. The one thing we know, is that we're ready. And we're going on girl road trip at some point.

Thank you for your support, couldn't happen without you!

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How I Met My Business Partner

Episode 1 : From Paris to London.

 
 

Hello Little Scandals,

Juliette here! As you know, there are two Scandals-en-chef behind Scandaleuse. Fanny and I are lucky to have a rare relationship. A very strong bond that was built over the years. Not to say that we agree on everything, we are not Barbie dolls surrounded by unicorns, but we have been pretty lucky to find each other.

So that's the story for today: how we met.

(Fanny doesn't know I am writing this at the moment. Surprise!)

 
2012, and already taking lingerie photos....

2012, and already taking lingerie photos....

 

Paris, September 2009. I am 17, Fanny is 19. I am from the middle of nowhere in the North of France and Fanny grew up in Paris' suburbs. We officially met for the first time when both of us sign up for Photography school in Northern Paris. Two young women trying to chase their dreams and learn the craft that Photography is.

The first things I remember about Fanny are:
• She was ALWAYS wearing heels
• She had to have her coffee from that crappy machine we had in the hall multiple times a day.
• Her nails were different color every week. Like seriously, that was the fun fact of every other Monday.

I felt like she was such a grown-up compared to me & my black nails, because y'know I am rock'n'roll.

We spent the first year of school becoming friends but nothing crazy. We both had other girls we bonded with. Turns out both of these lovely girls ended up leaving after the first year and Fanny and I kept going for the second part of the program.

I guess this is when we started becoming close. I was slowly struggling with this school that I didn't like, seeing Fanny was pretty much the only thing that made me go. We modelled for each other's assignments. We did random shoots when no one was taking care of us.

She was always game to follow my crazy ideas of creating dresses out of curtains and go shoot in a public park in Paris.

 
Yep, this was one of first sessions!

Yep, this was one of first sessions!

#artplease

#artplease

 

I wanted more than the school. I wanted to travel. I didn't go through the program and didn't do the last year. Fanny kept going and I found another school than led me to London to work as an assistant for a photographer there.

Surprisingly, my leaving made us stronger than ever. Over the span of 8 months, I did my internship and went back home. Fanny had that tickle to travel then and I desperately wanted to go back to London. "You should come with me" I told her one day on October 2012.

Later that month, I got a phone call:

"I am coming with you, let's do it" she said.

Tickets were bought the same day, we packed our bags and left two weeks after.

The day we left for London with 3000 bags.

The day we left for London with 3000 bags.

To this day, the moment when both Fanny and I were in the Eurostar, on the way to London-St-Pancras, is one of the most powerful moments of my life. We were both very serene. We were doing something kind of crazy, leaving our friends and family behind, to go to a city Fanny didn't know and I was barely familiar with. City where people speak another language we didn't really know. No jobs, no apartments, just our thirst for adventure. Yet everything felt like it was meant to be.

After writing this, I realize than we are going to need at least another post to tell you guys how we ended up in Toronto.

Stay tuned Little Scandals.

 
 

I had to end this blog post with some vintage pictures of us. Here we go, yours truly!

Show Us Your Tats - Betty LaBourbon

Betty was one of the first participants to Show Us Your Tats. We fell in love with her retro look that makes you want to buy anything babydoll looking you can find. We loved her even more when she agreed to get in the water with us at Cherry Beach, with a thousand dogs (and their owners) staring at us. 

 
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Who are you?

Betty LaBourbon,  burlesque performer based out of Toronto. My classic pin up style is the cherry on top of my electric performances, both as a solo performer and as part of the Femme Diagrams burlesque troupe.

Let's talk tattoos

I have 4 tattoos. The oldest is a maple leaf on the small of my back that was done for my 16th birthday. It was done in a small town shop outside of the city. My black widow was to remind me that I am strong in my own right, and was done by a friend. I have a Winnie the Pooh memorial piece for a family member who passed away. And I have a burned branch with my family's crest to keep me connected to my past. Those two were both done at Tat-a-rama in Etobicoke. So far that has been my favorite shop that I have visited in Toronto.

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What was the time and budget allocated for each piece?

The maple leaf was maybe $100, it is not very big and it was done outside of the city many years ago. It was only maybe a half an hour to complete.

The black widow was even less than that since it was done by a friend who was an apprentice at the time. Again, it didn't take very long, maybe 20 minutes.

The branch took quite a bit longer, about 2 hours. It cost almost $300, and I gave the artist a good tip as well because he did an excellent job.

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The Winnie the Pooh piece was maybe an hour and a half, and cost about $250, but again, I gave the artist, Joe Berry, a tip because, again, the artists at this shop do excellent work. I'm very picky because I either design my own tattoos, or have very clear ideas about what I want, so I need to work with artists who are willing to listen, and not all about their own ego and personal style.

Is the tattoo fever going to strike again?

Ooh absolutely! Tattooing is a great way to celebrate and remember important things, events, people. I have maybe 3 more planned, but I'm sure more ideas will come to me as time goes on.

Is there something you wish you had known before getting tattooed?

I did a lot of research before getting my first tattoo. I had to as a requirement before my parents would sign the consent forms! But I didn't realize it was going to be such a spiritual experience. You have an image that means something so personal to you that you want to carve it into your body. You sacrifice blood and pain for this image to be with you forever. That is an incredibly intense experience. And for me it became very spiritual. A way to give back to the universe for lessons learned or gifts received. I still feel that way every time I go under the needle.

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How did you immediate family/circle of friends react?

My family has always been ok with tattoos. Both of my parents have them, and since I was so young when I got my first one, I needed their consent before it could be done! Strangely enough, my nose piercing caused more issue than any of my tattoos have! As for my friends, it was never an issue, either good or bad. They all wanted to hear about it, and teased me about going through the pain, but no one really seemed to consider it much beyond that. It's become very normalized in our culture I suppose.

The Deets

Tat-a-rama in Etobicoke | @tatarama.
Joe Berry | @joe_b_tattoos

Find Betty

Her Instagram | Her Facebook