This is an interview with a former boudoir client of mine, an absolutely breathtaking, yet modest woman with a shining soul. She also happens to be married to a Rabbi. :) Here's what she had to say...
What originally intrigued you about doing a boudoir session?
I saw this as an opportunity to love who I have become. Not the image from Madison Avenue, though. I was at a major growth place in my life. I wanted to honor the path that lead me to the place I arrived, and give myself chizuk (strength) for the future.
Right now, I am in my mid-forties. I haven't always felt so confident with stretch marks and the roundness in all my curves! This boudoir session wasn't about being sexy. It was about being a woman, and owning my womanhood.
That's really beautiful. You touched on this in your answer, but beyond the images themselves, what were the things you wanted to gain personally from this experience?
I needed to see myself as I am today. We live in this world where people are beleaguered by the stressors. At the end of the day, we are with our spouses. We have to feel connected and beautiful for the other, and for ourselves to be ready for the connecting.
I see your camera lenses as mirrors, like the ones women used to make themselves beautiful for their husbands in Mitzrayim (Egypt)! I was taking out the "mirror" to be attractive for my husband, in a world filled with images that can affect the d'veikut (closeness) between husband and wife.
It sounds like you were really into the idea of doing a session. Did you have any reservations?
Definitely! I was worried about not feeling tzanuah (modest). I was worried about how my body changed over the years, such as childbirth and life events that have left traces on my body. Then I thought, I am more than my body! I wanted my soul to shine through, and your lens got it. Your good eyes saw the inner beauty. I was able to see myself with new eyes!
I never felt more tzanuah. I was body-respectful, and so were you. You never asked me to pose in such ways that were anything but modest.
I'm so happy you were able to be yourself and that you felt that your inner beauty was celebrated!
In addition to feeling modest, did you have other feelings during your session?
Oh, lots... I felt powerful. I felt that I was owning who I am, and was so very grateful for my "imperfections." They meant motherhood. They meant womanhood. I felt attractive.
Later that day, how did you process your experience? What did you walk away with?
Later that day, I felt beautiful. I felt like I was ready for the new road I was embarking upon. I felt that the woman I was on the inside was validated. People might see the boudoir sessions as vain or immodest, but one does not need to compromise principles to spend a morning connecting with life, enhancing the woman she is. The photos are for her, and if she chooses, to share with her husband. In these days, we need to lift up our mirrors and make ourselves beautiful in our own eyes. I felt beautiful in my own eyes.
I agree with you completely about how important it is to feel good about ourselves from the inside out. When you received your pictures, how did you feel about them and yourself?
I was surprised that I looked that beautiful. I did see my flaws, but they didn't bother me too much. I saw the inner beauty I felt, and I felt validated. I thought: "Rebecca got me! Rebecca really captured the real and true essence of myself." I am not a model, and didn't expect to see myself as a model. But I certainly never looked more beautiful.
Wow! I'm not sure I have words for that. Did you show your husband right away? What was his reaction?
Nope. I kept them to myself. I needed time with them. I did choose my favorite pictures and made a photo book with quotes from Shir HaShirim. I gave it to him as a gift. He said it was a side of me he didn't know about. He loved them, and put the book in a safe place. He also said that he saw me as that beautiful - but was happy that I could prove this to myself! I think my confidence was very attractive to him.
He did want to know who took the photos! Haha! I told him "a talented... Woman!"
That's special you are with someone that really sees you, and appreciates how gorgeous you are. Do you think that there is anything contradicting about being a religious woman who is modest and doing a boudoir session?
I see the experience as one that promotes the d'veikut (closeness) in my marriage. I did not do anything against my beliefs. We live in a society where images of photoshopped, non-tzanuah (immodest), women are all over the place. I was keeping my husband's eye towards me. He has his own lovely woman, with emotional intimacy and life companionship. The mirrors used in Mitzrayim were to cause husbands to want their wives, after being demoralized in their work. This is precisely what we were doing with my session!
It doesn't contradict tzanuah (modesty) to do a boudoir session. Being beautiful and alluring isn't about lack of clothing, it's about inner strength and connection with one's husband. A person can be clothed and totally alluring!
"I was keeping my husband's eye towards me." That is such a beautiful sentiment!
Lastly, was there anything that you gained from the session that you did not expect? Do you feel it has enhanced your life and your marriage?
I didn't expect to feel so good! I didn't feel ashamed. I felt like the beautiful me on the inside was what radiated in the photographs. I didn't have to tell the world about it because it was a personal triumph! I didn't expect to feel that way.
It did enhance my marriage because of the confidence it gave me. I felt shy to approach my husband, so he missed signals, but now I can express my invitation more clearly while still remaining modest in the invite. I don't feel embarrassed, and that helps us connect.
Thank you for sharing your experience with me, and taking the time to talk about our session together! I'm honored to be invited into this sacred place in your life, and your answers made me feel like I have found my calling all over again.