Walking down the aisle on my Dad’s arm, en route to my would-be husband, I was sweating. It wasn’t the muggy July air, the church’s ancient air conditioner, or my 40-pound dress. It was the anxiety of ALL EYES ON ME. Everyone was staring at me, you guys, and it freaked me out! Granted, they were supposed to be staring at me. They even stood up and stuff and I was all, “Sit! Sit! Someone get me a beer!” but no. Staring.
Ten years later, a sweet girl I grew up with who had morphed into this amazing photographer called me and was like, “Lemme tell you about this photo shoot. It’s all about capturing a woman’s spirit and empowering her through art.” YASSSSS! I was totally on board until she told me who would be the subject of her shoot: ME.
Cue sweaty armpits.
Me: Umm…I don’t know. I’m usually taking the pictures, not in them. I took this adorable one of my two-year-old the other day! You should see it! She’s—
Autumn: You can do this. You’ll love it. You’ll be amazing. Let’s schedule something.
Having seen her work, I knew I was in good hands, but still? Sweaty.
I did it. I went to her studio in Greensburg, PA and I let the incredibly talented make-up artist & hair stylist Jacqueline DeMario do her thang, and then I pretended to have a clue about posing as Autumn shouted out encouraging words. Mostly, I just talked through the whole thing, forcing upwards of 800 photos. And ya know, what? Some of them came out prettttty, prettttty good.
I was a bit hesitant at first. I was following all the cues, but I wasn’t feeling them.
Then this dress…
I don’t know what happened, but when I put on that pink sparkly piece of OMGness, I felt like a bad ass princess and I LOVED it. Autumn kept talking about this empowering women through glamour photography thing, and it was in that dress that I GOT it. I really got it. It’s not about smiling perfectly or looking like a J.Crew model; it’s about working what your Mama gave you, even after three kids and the devastating loss of your abs.
It’s about feeling confident and strong and capable. And when, a few weeks after this shoot, my 7-year-old asked me why my thighs were so big, I had the wherewithal to fire back with a quick, “So they could carry three babies.” BOOM.
Motherhood and marriage are funny things: they are these intensely incredible experiences that forever change us, but also have a scary potential to bury us. I love being “Mummy” to my kids, and I count my blessings every day to be married to a man with integrity and terrible fashion sense. BUT. But…underneath all the piles of laundry and bills and half-eaten fruit is still a woman.
A woman who cleaned out her closet when she gave up her career to raise kids. A woman who looks in the mirror so infrequently she doesn’t notice that long chin hair her toddler will soon shimmy up. A woman who has been trying SO HARD to be healthier to be a better role model, especially for her daughters. A woman who, despite raging against 1950’s stereotypes, sincerely enjoys cooking a meal that makes her family beg for more. A woman who deserves to do something for herself.
And she may have tired eyes because HOLY HELL KIDS GO TO SLEEP, and maybe her stylist found a few grays, aaaand she’s a bit more hunched over these days because responsibility is heavy, but she’s a force to be reckoned with not in spite of it all, but because of it all.
So when you see this woman being walked by her dogs because they don’t understand a leash or in the pick-up lane still wearing last night’s mascara because she stayed up “late” to catch the 7:05 Bad Moms with her favorite gal pals, bow down. And while you’re down there, pick up the sock that just fell out of her sweatshirt sleeve, would ya?
Glamour photography didn’t seem like the thing that would put an extra pep in my step; in fact, it downright terrified me. But I am SO glad and beyond grateful to Autumn and Jacki for their invitation, time, and talent. I’ll keep these pictures FOR-EV-ER and force my grandchildren to look at them every time they visit. LOOK WHERE GRANDMA’S CHEEKBONES USED TO BE, KIDS! Because let’s face it: we’ll never be as young as we are right now. Next up: nude photos.*
Because Autumn & Jacki are so incredibly generous–and they believe in a woman’s worth–they’re offering a free glamour session to one of my readers. The session includes:
FREE SESSION FEE
CLOTHING FOR SESSION
MAKEUP & HAIR ARTIST
FIVE DIGITAL FILES INCLUDED
**additional digitals or prints available for purchase a la carte
Enter below for your chance to win. Giveaway is live from 8/14/16 at midnight EST – midnight on 8/31/16. Winner will be notified via email so check yo’ mail! Additional details below…
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Love this blog. .loved all the photos. You look amazing.
Stephanie Jankowski says
Thanks, D! It was so fun and after how hard you’ve worked on you, this shoot would be PERFECT! Good luck!
Kristen H says
I love it! I usually read, laugh and relate to your posts – this one – no different! I hear ya sista! I didn’t have babies, but I had breast cancer and it raged and it forever changed me and my body…but I am still a force to be reckoned with…and a beautiful woman dammit (even if I don’t feel it most days)…would LOVE to do a photo shoot and revel in my “new normal”
Stephanie Jankowski says
You’re a soldier, lady! Good luck and hugs to you. xoxox
Emma Ladik says
Love this! You look fantastic, Stephanie!
Real Life Parenting says
I feel like this would be perfect for my Girl–a boost for her and make her feel empowered and pretty because she’s been down a bit. Being a teenager with a chronic illness is hard, yo!
What a wonderful gift! All mom’s need a day like this. The picture of you in the hot pink dress and glasses is my favorite!
Kathye Schaeffer says
What an amazing gift for any woman.
I love your blog! Women need to feel beautiful in every shape and size. This word is far too focused on weight/size/ and out of control proportions. Since when was someone born a size 0 waist with big boobs and butt?!? Never. Let’s all try and be healthy…. Eat right exercise regularly and be happy! That’s the way to a long healthy life;)
As always I very much enjoyed your blog
Who is the winner of the photo shoot???