Boudoir : Meirav

"When I was 16, I was sexually molested by a man on a city bus. I had never seen him before in my life. I didn't know what to do with myself so I froze until I had to get off. I told two of my friends, but at our young age, they didn't know how to handle it. They never brought it up again, so neither did I. Since my parents were getting divorced at the time, I felt like I had no one to talk to, so I just kept it in for seven years. When I went to Sherut Leumi, I went to therapy because I thought I was having a hard time separating from my younger sister. It helped... but at that time I didn't think that the assault had such a big effect on me. Therefore, I just ignored it and didn't bring it up during my sessions.

Only after I got married seven years later, did I realize the effect it had on me. Our first year of marriage was very hard in every way, especially the sexual experiences. My husband supported me the whole time, and eventually I started therapy again. He also encouraged me to tell my two closest friends, thinking that I would likely need support from other women. I was sure they would be there for me in my hard times, like I was there for them, but they abandoned me. They left me when I needed them the most. They preferred to ignore my pain than deal with a subject that might be difficult.  My heart was crushed again. It took me a long time to get over them and understand that I'm better off having no friends than having friends like them. They made the most offensive excuses to their actions. They even mentioned that they didn't think I needed them because I was seeing a therapist.

Throughout the years I have worked on myself a lot and have really become a better person. I am able to speak my mind, and I have overcome the initial reaction I had when I was molested. I now react, yell back and scare others that have tried to attack me. I'm still struggling, but I'm proud of myself for being present and overcoming situations that are hard for me.

I want to tell the world:

Please please don't ever blame the victim!!! 
I was wearing long sleeves and a long skirt. It didn't matter! 
Be there for your friends when they need you, especially in hard times!
Teach your kids how to react in these kind of situations. 
Be grateful to the people who are there for you and love you in any kind of state.

I truly am grateful to have my amazing husband and son keeping me up every day.

This photo shoot really took me out of what just a few short years ago would have been my comfort zone, and showed me how far I have come as a person..."

Hair and Makeup by Cassy Avraham

Boudoir : Reflections

I've always loved to write. As a young girl, I imagined my adult self as a journalist or a novelist, maybe even a poet. There was something comforting about the idea of escaping to my own world to create a reality that was only mine. Writing has helped me get through the darker times of life; through the confusion of my early teenage years, through heartbreak and my parent's divorce, through times where I felt like the only person in the world. I often think back to short excerpts I wrote, my poetry, my journals with pages ripped out and doodles along the sides. These dark times when I turned to myself, I turned into myself and it has led me to the woman I am today. I have this burning desire to bring forth and into the light what may lie just beneath the surface. I realize now that everything I have expressed in words, are fragmented pieces of my personal story.

When a camera fell into my hands, I began to tell more stories. About myself, but also about other women. I've had the honor of listening and learning and understanding the people who have been in front of my camera. I've seen women emerge from incredible pain with astonishing strength. I've seen the unspeakable magic that happens when the layers are stripped away and we are real with each other. Through boudoir, I have the ability to tell your story through my lens, to be with you and feel with you. When I can't seem to put things to words, I have my camera, and often times, it truly says everything.

Hair and Makeup by Katy Taurel

Boudoir : Hadas

"As a rape survivor, I always felt my body betrayed me. I was mad at it for being so weak, for letting everything happen, for not saving me from the worst nightmare I could ever imagine. I was just 11 at the time, amidst of growing up. I was discovering myself, femininity and sexuality. All was stopped at once. All I could think of, all I wanted, was for my body and I to be separated. As years went on I developed severe Bulimia. Nobody knew of course. I was always the strong-powerful-wise woman for everyone. How could I ever share with them how weak I really was? So I constantly punished my body, by not taking care of it, by pretending I'm really disgusting, ugly, fat, and so many more things that I will spare you. So I was drowning for years, deeper and deeper, pretending all was fine.

When I started recovery, there was one person who saw me - an amazing blind woman who saw me with her heart, and that changed everything. It was a long road, it still is. Yet I can say today, that I'm a much wiser woman.

I'm beautiful, I'm sexy, and I'm strong. I believe that because I learned to love my body and take care of it. Thank it for making me who I am. Being beautiful, sexual and strong is a good thing. Not something to be ashamed of.and because of that, I wanted to give myself, my body, a present. Thank it for sticking with me even when I did everything possible to ruin it. Give it the love it deserves. 

Society expects us to diminish how we see ourselves. I'm not willing to do that anymore. What makes me as strong as I am is that knowledge I learned the hard way. Choosing to be you is the best present you can give yourself."

Hair and Makeup by Cassy Avraham

Glamour : Shelley

I was so excited to photograph Shelley in honor of her 32nd birthday. When she approached me to do a glamour session, I could already envision how everything would come together beautifully. Shelley's foundation of confidence seems to come from a strong sense of herself in a physical, emotional and spiritual realm. It is evident to me, and I think everyone who comes in contact with her, what a special and gorgeous woman she is.

A few words from Shelley...

"I have often had hair, makeup and portraits done but it has always been for an occasion. The experience of having all that pampering attention feels rushed and gets swallowed up in the excitement of the day - graduation, family simcha, or a wedding. I wanted to enjoy the process without the pressure of rushing to the big event. I so loved working with Cassy who made both the hair and makeup experience pleasurable and whose work really shines in the photos. 

I was marking my birthday, but on that day there was no obvious accomplishment or milestone to celebrate, but I did want to take a moment, an expression of a “mesibat hodaya” a celebration of gratitude, for this ongoing process of personal growth and development of self love to recognize how far I have come and anticipate all the good the future holds. The past couple years I experienced acute injury, recovery, and shifted gears professionally from communication and visual arts to embrace being a yoga teacher as part of my journey. I knew I could trust Rebecca to connect to and reveal that gratitude and renewal in still photographs.

I am so touched by the final series of portraits."

Rebecca Sigala - 1
Rebecca Sigala - 2
Rebecca Sigala - 3
Rebecca Sigala - 4
Rebecca Sigala - 5
Rebecca Sigala - 6
Rebecca Sigala - 7
Rebecca Sigala - 8
Rebecca Sigala - 9

Hair and Makeup by Cassy Avraham