We live in a world where the woman is overworked and underappreciated. Women are expected to be great wives... mothers... sisters... businesswomen... students... friends... while at the same time, they are chastised for being too skinny... too fat... too loud... too emotional... too bold... too needy, too reserved... too provocative. For centuries, women have been used, abused, and yet, were expected to put the world before self. Today, they are still undervalued on so many levels.
No woman should put so much into everyone and everything else, that she neglects herself. She should be loved and appreciated by the people in her life... especially herself! She should love herself for who she is... not who everyone expects her to be. She should see the beauty in her flaws... whether they are physical, emotional or mental. Empowerment is what this photo series is about. Bethany E. Photography and Eyes of Venus Makeup Designs by Shera G teamed up with eight everyday women, and created an experience that will be remembered for as long as they live. With the assistance of Darian Matthews and the Erby family, Bethany E and Shera G were able to create something magical.
This experience was to remind each woman that she is a Goddess. It was a reminder to take care of herself... love herself... and to stop neglecting herself. This photoshoot was to let each woman know that self love is indeed important, and not selfish. It is perfectly okay to take care of self. This experience was truly emotional for everyone involved. As you read this blog, you will see each photo come to life as you read the testimony of the women who put their fears and inhibitions aside, trusted their photographer and makeup artist, believed in the vision, and allowed themselves to be vulnerable in the name of feeling empowered. Readers, we present to you... "Woman: The Imperfect Perfection"
Join us this week for a new Imperfectly Perfect woman of the day!
"I took on this experience and never imagined it would be anything like what it was. For years I thought I accepted my body. However, this photoshoot has shown me that I didn’t. I was just living with it because I
had no other choice...
Now, having been a part of this awakening photo shoot, I see my flawed body in the mirror and it’s not just my flawed body... it’s my journey. It doesn’t define me but it certainly is the narrative of my life thus far! Every stretch mark, every fold, ever contour and blemish has a story...
Now looking at myself, I see my journey and I see beauty and strength in it. I never saw myself as sexy or felt like I could ever see myself like that and I will forever be appreciative to you (Shera) and Bethany for awakening this goddess
Thank you guys!
"Pregnancy is such a unique time in a woman’s life; there is an abundance of emotions that happens when you find out there is a little life inside of you. From being excited and overjoyed, to being completely terrified because you realize this baby is depending on you to carry and care for them... everything you
do can affect this child. There are so many stages to pregnancy that you don’t realize at first... not until you start moving into each one, some stages more difficult than others.
Personally for me in my daily pursuit of achieving the Wonder Women status quo, the new restrictions that were placed on my body
were the most difficult. Being told I could no longer do certain things frustrated me and at times made me feel inadequate. In order to prepare for this shoot I needed to get comfortable with the idea of posing in the nude well within my third trimester. In essence I had to
fall in love with a body that didn’t even feel like mine anymore.
During this time, I realized how amazing my body actually is! At the shoot, I felt amazingly proud and so beautiful that a part of me was restored. These photos made me realize that self-care and loving one‐ self comes from within... in that moment, nine months pregnant, I was stronger than I’ve ever been before...
strong enough to carry myself and my daughter."
'There's something empowering about being
covered in gold and adorned with rhinestones. Looking
in the mirror, I saw the best side of me.
I saw all my
strengths and felt so confident and beautiful. This experience
made me feel like a force to be reckoned with
and like a voice that can't be ignored.
As a woman, I
felt sexy and I'm proud of the image I portrayed'
"When I first booked this shoot with Bethany
(photographer) and Shera (make-up artist) I didn’t
second guess it. The crazy thing is, I never thought
I’d do a body art or nude shoot, but when I saw their
casting notice I felt like I HAD to be a part of it. Mind
you, I had never met them before, but I had seen
both of their work and needless to say, I was very
impressed. I felt comfort before doing the shoot with
them. Trusting that they were true business women
and feeling they were genuine as well. My intuition was
definitely on track because the moment I got onto set, I
felt the love and the comfort.
After walking in, they made sure I knew they had
refreshments and snacks and introduced themselves,
which made me feel more comfortable than what I
thought was already comfortable.
Shera began by
doing my make-up and gave me knowledge on the
to-do and how-to of make-up. I love a make-up artist
who knows her craft. We all talked, we all laughed and
then it was time to get naked for the body painting.
Of course, at first it was awkward (in my head) but
then it quickly felt like I was clothed (comfortable).
THEY didn’t make it awkward or anything, it was
like I wasn’t even naked.
I soon forgot that I was.
Shera did a great job with the make-up and body
art because I felt so freaking beautiful that it was
refreshing. They complimented my beauty and made
me feel much better.
Bethany was then ready to begin photographing me.
Let me tell you, this woman KNOWS HER CRAFT. She
gave me very specific and simple directions on how
to pose, and I loved that. No one wants to feel like
they don’t know what to do next, they wanna feel like
they’re doing a great job.
Bethany definitely made me
feel great, she had me in such elegant poses that I felt
like I was queening. I’ve said it a lot but she gave me so
much comfort that it was easy. I felt like I knew what
I was doing and that’s because she knew what she
was doing. Everything was cohesive from my make-up,
body, and to the poses.
Looking at the photos after the shoot made me
feel the way that I’d been longing to feel, absolutely
gorgeous in my own shape, size, complexion and self
beauty overall. I didn’t have on something to hide my
imperfections. Instead, this shoot highlighted them.
I looked at all my flaws in the pictures and no longer
saw them as flaws, but as a part of the beauty of me.
After leaving the shoot, I felt like going out because
I felt beautiful. Normally I would stay in the house
because I didn’t feel beauty in me but this shoot
helped me to realize my perception of myself was so
far off. I’m beautiful when I begin seeing my flaws
as my perfect imperfections. I know I am perfectly
imperfect in my own skin!"
"The best outfit I have ever worn is my nudity.
Every part of this experience was wonderful. From the
preparations, to the days that followed when I began to
process the artistry I had just took part. In preparation,
talks about the many elements that make a woman
and my cotinued exploration of being a woman I am...
So much knowledge exchanged and still so much
to learn. In the shoot, feeling more free, open and
embraced in my nudity than in my clothes... At one
point, I remember thinking, "Wow this must be what
Eve felt like in the garden."
The days that followed, I felt
lifted and the intense desire to create, where before I
had found myself at a creative brick wall. I don't know
if it was the energy of the women and their excitement
that rubbed off on me or if it was the openness I felt in
being uncovered. I truly believe it was a combination of
the two and I am grateful for the experience."
On the 8th of March, I was scheduled to be a part
of my friend, Shera's project. I said yes because it was
Shera and because I wanted to support her. When I got
to my shoot Shera and Bethany were there waiting. I
had no fear, just concerns in my head. However, I knew
my makeup was going to be fire because Shera had
transformed my face before. Absolutely no worries.
Then it came time for the body makeup.
I admit, I was
a bit shy at first but I kept telling myself this is all in the
name of art, not the other kind of nudity. I felt extra in
every way beautiful, empowered, fierce, comfortable,
sexy, and humbled. I would do it again. I love the skin
I'm in and I love my figure.
Thank you Shera and Bethany for allowing me to be a
part of your project. I absolutely had fun."
"There aren't a lot of times where as a grown woman you feel you are coming into your own. We are usually too busy for that. As a mother of three, with a busy life and a very demanding hobby, bodybuilding,
I can say I do feel unbelievable when I have time to
sit back and reflect... Like how do I do this everyday? This isn't real... it isn't human.
When I got asked to do this special shoot, without hesitation I said yes. Shera and Bethany have vision...and that vision brought out a woman in me that embodies what it means to be me... An unbelievable being, strong, fierce, elegant and too beautiful to be true. Otherworldly is how this shoot made me feel. Women with creative vision... empowering women with force, women with style, grace and heart. Full of love and security, strong
and confident, brave and truly one of a kind. Thank you Shera and Bethany. "
When I was planning this concept shoot with Bethany, I didn't include myself as a model. I'm not a fan of being in front of the camera... I'm the person behind the scenes helping to create the magic. That's what I do.
Bethany made me do it. Lol! She told me that as much as I promote self love in women, especially black women, I should be willing to show them how to do so. In so many words, she advised me to "practice what I preach." Touchè, Bethany. Touchè.
2016-2017 was a whirlwind for me... I went from thinking I couldn't have children, to finding out I was pregnant with my Sun. At that moment in time, I was focused on learning to love my body... my temple. I was working out, eating right... doing what I needed to do to become one with my body again. I had to learn to love my fluffiness in order to build a positive relationship with my body... one that would benefit us in the end.
My pregnancy was smooth... almost effortless... until the last month. I blew up... like an air balloon. I felt like a hippo. I didn't recognize my body, at all. After I gave birth to my Sun, I couldn't wait to get back to the gym... so much, that I rushed into it and almost injured myself physically. I didn't give my body time to heal. I was doing way too much, way too fast... because I wasn't in love with my reflection.
The next few months were a struggle... I had to go through the journey of finding that love for my body all over again. Focusing on the changes and challenges my body went through, during and post-pregnancy, was a revelation in itself. This juicy, but powerful body of mine carried the masterpiece I call my Sun for nine months... nourished him... protected him... brought him into this world... and nursed him. How dare I look at my vessel with pity? How dare I see my love handles, pudgy belly and stretch marks as unattractive?
My body is the TRUTH!!!
That is what this photoshoot was about... letting every woman know that every flaw on her body has a story to tell... that her temple should be loved and adored,
whether it's in tip top shape or needing construction... that we are more than our bodies... we are the SOULS that dwell in our vessels.
To every woman out there... especially our women of color... because the truth is, many of us were not raised to love the skin we are in... To every mother, sister, daughter, wife... This photoshoot is for US! Do not allow anyone to make you feel less than you are... Not even YOU!
You are a Goddess... a woman of true beauty and grace... a source of life, whether you can have children or not. You breathe life into the people you love. You deserve unconditional love... but that unconditional love has to start within yourself.
So yes, with all my extra pounds and folds... I pose in these photos, as gorgeous as ever... loving myself on a level I have never felt before. I did this for us all... but mostly for me, with no regrets.
I would like to thank Bethany E. Photography... for believing in my vision... To helping me give birth to it. You are a gifted photographer and doula in more ways than one. I will forever be grateful.
To the models that participated, thank you for trusting us. Thank you for being open... vulnerable... and for being the amazingly beautiful Goddesses that you are!
Message from the Photographer:
As we wrap up this series, I go back and look through these images and see so much more than beautiful images. I see strength, love, doubt, fear, success, hurt, triumph, openness, and love. We are all finding ourselves in new and different ways, putting ourselves out there for the world to see, sometimes seeking validation from the outside when deep inside we have all the magic we need. I saw this project as bringing that magic to the forefront, if we could see what is inside us, we would never again doubt that we are truly a work of art, physically, spiritually, and mentally. I challenge any and everyone who takes the time to read this blog to reach within and find your inner glow, remind yourself that you are magical everyday, and carry yourself as you would anything that is precious and worth all the riches of the world!
Shera, I love you dear and I am so thankful that you trusted me with your vision, with your hardwork, with you talent! I have loved every moment of our friendship, every ounce of the support and encouragement we give to each other. Thank you for opening up to me and allowing me to share in you and Benjis life.