Living Life to the Fullest | Boudoir : Abby

When my friend first recommended Rebecca Sigala, honestly, I wasn’t sure if a boudoir session would be the best idea for me. I had quite a year having lost my father, one of my best friends. Then, just shortly after his passing, I went through hell and back from a really tough surgery that left permanent scars on my body.

With this year taking such a toll on me, I felt truly self-conscious about myself on all levels. I’ve always had a “big girl” body with curvy hips, and I wasn’t really sure that I could do something as brave and as bold as this. To honor my father, I decided that I was going to live each day as if it were my last…

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My boudoir experience made me feel that I was not only physically, but emotionally, stripping away layers that had been there for so long. So long of being tough, being strong, and showing everybody that I was just fine on the outside... when, in reality, I was breaking on the inside.

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Seeing the pictures for the first time stunned me. I had no words. Rebecca made me feel worthy. Worthy of love. Worthy of respect. I was allowed to be emotional and beautiful just the way I am.

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I’d recommend every woman to do a boudoir session with Rebecca, and don’t wait - do it now.

Live each day like it’s your last. I’ll never regret my decision to take the risk and go for it.

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Rebirth of Self-Love | Valentine's Day Mini-Session : Lia

Each year since I began doing boudoir photography, I host mini-boudoir sessions in honor of Valentine’s Day in Israel. What I love about my work and empowering women becomes magnified when the experience extends to a group of ten. The energy of the day is always uplifting and nothing short of powerful. To see how women from all around the country and different backgrounds support each other in their celebration of their femininity is very special. In addition, I love how the mini-sessions have transformed Valentine’s Day into a way to not only show love and appreciation for the people in our lives, but to shine light on the love we have for ourselves.

This was Lia’s second boudoir session with me, after a couple years of immense growth and change in her life. When she decided to sign up for the Valentine’s Day sessions, I remember her saying, “I really want to feel like I’m present and connecting in these photos - something to have forever to showcase the kind of journey of the last 2 years.” I had every desire to give that to her, but I have to be honest, it was a lot of pressure for a 1/2 hour mini-session. During her consultation we spoke more in depth about what she was looking for, and when the day came, the session was exactly how Lia had envisioned it; present, connecting, meaningful and trusting. Her trust and ability to truly let go was what made this session so unbelievable, and it made me fall in love with Lia, her story and her beauty all over again.

Here are some of Lia’s thoughts and feelings about her experience, “I wanted to do this session for a few reasons. First of all, I am a single mom, and I don’t see my friends often. So on a really practical level, I realize that I have very few photos of myself that aren’t selfies or blurry shots that one of my kids took. I really like having photographs of the different stages of my life. Now that I’m divorced and my kids aren’t babies anymore, I really treasure the photos I have of myself and them during my marriage. I don’t think I appreciated photography on this level before my divorce. But something about seeing how drastically life can change, reminded me how meaningful photographs can be. They allow us to freeze time and take a piece of that reality, that will surely change, and save it forever.”

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“I wanted something physical to mark what feels like… a rebirth. Two years ago I did a boudoir shoot and it was weeks after my divorce and when I was really in the thick of the loss. I had literally just lost about 40 pounds. I was really confused and feeling really out of control. My last session marked a stage too - a stage that was beautiful and sad in its own right - it was an awakening. I’m glad I did it and that I have those photos. But it’s been such a full and intense two and half years, and I feel like I have lived an entire lifetime. So to get to do another shoot, that gives me these markers of these chapters in my life, is really meaningful.“

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“A lot of people want to do a boudoir shoot after they lose weight or when they feel like their body looks its best. My body has been through a lot since the last shoot. I continued to lose weight, to the point that my size zero jeans were loose, and my friends and family told me I looked sick. I also had a septoplasty surgery for a lifetime sinus migraine problem and decided to get a nose job at the same time. It was very “unlike me” to change my body like that. But I think it was part of my desire to start over somehow. It was that part of me that was determined to do what I wanted and move forward with my own freedom and independence. All of these huge physical changes happened when I was hitting my rock bottom emotionally. Thankfully, I found my way up.

At first for my kids, and then for my long forgotten self, I started making better decisions and climbed my out of the deep hole I had dug for myself. I started practicing yoga, got off of psychiatric drugs that had unfortunately started to do more harm than good for me, made some huge life changes, and began to reclaim my life. Between then and now, I have gained back weight. But I feel stronger and healthier and happier in my body than I have ever felt. It’s not perfect. There are days when I feel fat or ugly or not good enough. I don’t know if that will ever go away entirely. But that part of my relationship with my body has faded. In its place I have begun to create a deep love and appreciation for my body. I am so grateful for what my body has done for me, for how it has been there for me through these thirty one years, faithfully strong and wise and soft and beautiful. It has housed my three babies, nursed them, and it is the same body that left a dead marriage and demanded a happier life. I wanted to photograph this miraculous body of mine.”

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“With its stretch marks, with its softness, with its droops and valleys and curves. I want to treasure this body and not hide any of its’ beautiful story.”

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Makeup by Makeup by Shosh

Breaking Barriers Within | Boudoir : Barbara

One the main reasons I wanted to do a boudoir session with Rebecca was because of what I learned during my years in and out of eating disorder treatment. To me, it seems that the most growth occurs when we’re a little uncomfortable. The trick to this kind of growth is to find comfort in the discomfort; finding a way to push ourselves and still be safe. And this was that. A boudoir session is a really special way to challenge my body image and self-esteem issues in a safe environment.

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I was only a freshman in high school when I developed Anorexia. It started off super innocently, just dieting and exercising more regularly. Though, when I turned 15, I set a goal weight for myself that was significantly lower than I was at the time. I reached it pretty quickly and continued to surpass it. This led to the first of seven treatment stays.

Looking back, I remember feeling so alone and miserable. And yet, so powerful at the same time. Like if I could conquer my body, then I could conquer the world. The thing is, that is so not true. I ended up leading a life that I didn’t want. I was alone and sad and anxious. I spent a lot of high school in the hospital and simply hating every part of me. My last treatment stay was in the Summer of 2017. It was so hard. It was the first time that I had taken an actual look at my life and realized that I didn’t want this to be the way I lived anymore.

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So I made a choice. I flew back to America, and I fought and cried. I did my best. And now, my life is so great. It’s not perfect. And my food isn’t perfect. But when I look around at what I’ve built for myself, I get filled with crazy amounts of gratitude. I’ve realized that nothing about what I’ve done has to do with what my body looks like. I don’t love my body. But I don’t hate it. And I don’t love myself all the time, but I also don’t hate myself anymore. That is more than I ever thought I would have accomplished.

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As you can imagine, I was SO nervous for my boudoir session. I can’t remember the last time I walked around my OWN apartment in my underwear. Never mind, someone else’s photography studio. I have to say that it went really well. I’d give the experience a 10/10, and as a former gymnast, a 10 is a BIG deal. When you’re basically naked, it’s a really vulnerable place to be, but during the session, I didn’t feel like it was a bad thing. It was actually really cool. As much as my body was the main focus, it was so not about my body.

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When you have an eating disorder and a gymnastics history, most people only look at the negative side of it. But toward the end of the session, Rebecca complimented me by saying that I understood how to move my body. When I said gymnastics taught me how to pose and move within my body, she said something along the lines of how amazing that is. It was the first time that someone pointed out the positive relationship between gymnastics and my body. That is something that I’ve really appreciated reflecting on since.

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I think a boudoir session can be a really incredible experience for all kinds of women, especially women who have struggled (and continue) to struggle with body image issues. We don’t get more comfortable in our skin by doing the same things we always do.

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Makeup and Hair by Tiferet Lehrman

Surviving and Thriving | Boudoir : Judi

The first time I met Judi was at the opening meeting for Brushes with Cancer. Brushes with Cancer is a program I participated in last year which pairs artists and people who have been touched with cancer, and together they embark on a meaningful six-month program.

While Judi wasn’t my partner in Brushes with Cancer, something immediately drew me to her. Judi told me she was from Memphis, Tennessee. Within minutes we found out that we had a first cousin in common through marriage, and that was it. Judi was instantly family, and getting to know her was a special experience for me. From our first encounter, she was nothing but honest and open, and it was easy to be inspired by the strength she held within. Being a survivor, a mother,.a wife, and an artist in her own way while wearing a thousand different hats as a woman was unimaginable to me. And here she was, laughing and bubbly, with wine in hand, enjoying life, even though she was still in physical pain.

5 years ago she was diagnosed with tongue cancer.

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Judi said, “I felt that my body betrayed me, failed me, didn't do what it was supposed to do. I am a five year tongue cancer survivor, and like many survivors, I was having a hard time accepting myself after the shock of what I had been through. My life will never be what it was, some of my disabilities are permanent and it's sometimes hard to feel confident and beautiful when so much has been taken away.”

When Judi contacted me specifically do to a boudoir session, I was already hoping that I would be able to have the opportunity, and I was super excited about planning everything with her! We settled on a date which happened to land on her 5 year surgery anniversary! That was just the beginning of all the special moments we shared together.

With the talented Jaquelyn Mowszowski Lawrence, we began the day on her beautiful, little farm in Moshav Herut…

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After the session, we enjoyed a homemade breakfast with fresh eggs and herbs from her backyard. It was so relaxing and connecting, and I think that we were both feeling a sense of freedom from the boudoir session!

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Any concern that Judi might have had over the next few weeks before receiving her pictures were put at ease when she started going through them. “When I look and the photos I see a beautiful me, and more important, a confident me. I can see the strength, courage and fierceness that I wish will stay with me always.”

As a boudoir photographer and Judi’s friend, there is nothing more I can ask for, and I’m so grateful that I was able to help create this space that gave her the ability to see herself this way. These boudoir experiences mean everything to me. Thank you, Judi.

Makeup by Jaquelyn Mowszowski Lawrence