Angela contacted me after leaving an abusive relationship because she wanted to feel sexy and confident again. She booked her shoot with a friend who she said “packs enough courage for both of us” but let me tell you, I’ve never seen anything but courage when I look at Angie. She is a badass survivor, funny and beautiful and holding nothing back.

Black & White LOVE letters boudoir photo

Angela wrote this for me after her session, and it moved me so much I have been wanting to share it ever since.

“I had never been comfortable in my own skin until I did my shoot with Star.

“I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship, and I had found my will to live again. I thought to myself that I wanted to feel sexy, I wanted to feel confident with myself and thought heck why not, but I didn’t expect what I got in return! I expected to walk in and be very shy about my body. But in walked Michelle to do my make up and she was so open and sweet that I started feeling more comfortable. Then Star walked in… and she is like a force ( I have no other way to explain it.) Everything just melted away and it was the most fun and amazing experience of my life.”

Abuse Survivor Edmonton Boudoir Photo Empowerment

 

“No matter how I felt about myself, Star saw beauty in me I didn’t know existed. When I sat down to go through my pictures afterward. I was dumbfounded by the woman staring back at me in the photos. I didn’t recognize her. She was beautiful. It was like for a moment I didn’t see me through my eyes. All I remember is tearing up and looking at Star and just saying “Wow… I’m… Beautiful”.

“To this day I look back through my photos.. and again am in awe. ❤️”

Laughing nude woman empowerment photo

 

Angie, you are inspiring and pack enough courage for a dozen. I’m so glad you found the strength to reclaim your life.

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Hey babe! I’m here to rant today. I’ll add some gorgeous photos to keep you going, though, k?

We don’t actually want to lose weight

The truth is, no-one really cares how much they weigh. I mean, apart from jockeys and MMA fighters. The rest of us, we just want to look and feel beautiful and healthy. Pick a celebrity whose body you adore- is what you’re admiring the number on their scale? Of course not. We get caught up in numbers because we’ve been told they can measure our value, our success, and our health. But what if that’s not true?

Photo by my BFF Jen on the Fearless: Bali boudoir retreat <3

But will losing weight improve my health?

The science saying that being skinny makes you healthier is, well, thin at best. Though many medical professionals still preach weight loss as a magic bullet, the evidence just isn’t there. Studies have repeatedly shown that people in the “overweight” and “mildly obese” categories of the BMI have the lowest mortality rates. While some health issues are linked to obesity, there’s actually little evidence saying they are CAUSED by obesity, and there is evidence saying that losing weight does not improve health biomarkers like blood pressure (though exercise does).

So why this obsession with numbers? Where did this multibillion dollar dieting industry come from?

I did a shitload of research on this when I was planning on writing a quick upbeat newsletter on the topic, but then when I was talking about it after dinner Ben said “Star, when you start adding footnotes it’s no longer a newsletter and no one wants to read your term paper.” I won’t lie, I felt called out- especially because he hadn’t actually read it so did not know about the footnotes. Thus I’m here, because it’s my blog and I can do what I want, plus blogs are allowed to have footnotes. Right? Right.

Gorgeous fucking curves

Old white dudes ruin everything, part 483

Previous to the 1800’s, American/European society held the same standard of beauty still found in many non-western cultures- curves are gorgeous, a sign of prosperity, fertility, and health. Even corsets were intended to redistribute and enhance curves, not to make people appear thinner. But in the mid-1800’s, a small but influential handful of insane white dudes decided that excess (read: normal human stuff) in any and all areas led to moral decay, ill-health and death.(1) “Temperance Societies” and men who who preached abstinence and believed spicy or sweet food would “excite passions”(2) were the precursors of the first widely popular diet fad,(3) and it snowballed from there.

Gist: We thought curves were beautiful and healthy until some really appalling white men who thought sex was evil, eugenics was cool, and cornflakes would stop you from masturbating, told us otherwise.

If I love myself the way I am, it’s like giving up

One very common thing women feel is that they owe it to themselves to dislike their body. Because they aren’t slim and athletic, they are fundamentally failing to behave correctly- exercise more, eat healthier food and less of it. If they were to love their body the way it is, it would be like saying that’s okay; like rewarding bad behaviour. And it would make them less likely to change their exercise and dietary habits and therefore achieve the body they want.

The thing is, science says that’s not true. [People who have internalised shame about their weight seem to be less likely to positively change their exercise habits.](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20948515) And that makes sense, because there’s research similar to that in many other areas of life; it turns out that hating yourself doesn’t make you happier. Go figure.

Unselfconscious beauty

So what’s the truth?

The truth is, we know a lot less about how weight affects health than people say. But what we do know is that some of the basic keys to health are exercise, mindfulness/stress reduction, getting enough sleep, and eating a varied diet of whole foods. And we know that being healthy, unlike weight or where you sit on the BMI, contributes to a happier and longer life.

All this just so I can say I told you so

So there you have it. Scientific proof that I am right, and you should love yourself exactly the way you are. Hating your body is not the first step towards creating a life and self you want. Based on the emails I get every day from past clients, loving it just might be. So why not give it a try?

 *   *   *

The footnotes, as promised

(1) It all started with [a quack in the 1800’s](https://www.livescience.com/18131-women-thin-dieting-history.html). Before this, American society believed the same thing that many non-Western societies still do- that curves are a coveted sign of health and vitality, and the height of female attractiveness. But Sylvester Graham of the Philledelphia Temperance Society (his followers called themselves “Grahamites” and invented graham crackers), who also believed that women should remain in the home to cook for the family and masturbation caused blindness, was one of the first of a series of men of that time who began to advocate for plain diets and ascetic lifestyles.

(2) John Kellog, a man of similar leanings from the same time period, was director of a (horrifying) sanitarium and invented cornflakes as an “anaphrodisiac” for his patients. The original American breakfast cereal was created to lower your sex drive. I seriously could not make this shit up.

(3) The “Banting Diet” – remarkably similar to keto diets of today. Link is to his original text “Letter on Corpulence.”

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This spring’s experimental shoot was something I’ve wanted to play with for years- projector nudes. I’ve admired this kind of art for a long time, and last year I bought a projector so I could try it out. Then things got busy, life got full, the studio calendar booked up and I forgot all about it.

Then this spring when I was giving the studio a good tidy I found the projector, impulsively went onto the Acts of Beauty Facebook VIP group and advertised an experimental art shoot for the following weekend. Because that group is full of completely badass, brave women who are always willing to indulge my artistic impulses, the shoot was sold out a few hours later, and I had all the models I needed!

I am especially blown away by the bravery of the women who had NEVER MET ME BEFORE and came down to take their clothes off and be my canvas. Talk about blowing through your comfort zone! And we had such a fabulous time- everyone laughing, supporting each other, suggesting poses and exclaiming over the results. Also, there were cookies. New friends, photography experiments and cookies are three of my favourite things!

Here are just a few of the totally incredible photos we made that day. It was a stunning success and everyone ended up with gorgeous art for their walls and a great story to tell! We will DEFINITELY be doing this again. <3

 

Projector Nude Photography Poses Art Edmonton

 

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This is my absolute favourite thing I’ve experienced in a long, long time. I don’t often take the time to watch videos but I heartily recommend you make time for this one- I’m glad I did. Too-much woman Gina Hatzis is a true inspiration.
 
 

Loving yourself is an act of defiance

 
Owning and embracing our beauty, sensuality and power is an act of bravery, and I think we don’t discuss that often enough. In a world where we’ve been told there are limits to what is feminine, what is beautiful, how much space we are allowed to take up and how beautiful we must be (just the right amount, not too much or too little), stepping outside those limits is an act of defiance and courage.
 
It opens us up to the unwanted attention of men, to the criticism of women who have been taught that their body is shameful and their power dirty.
 
It opens us to judgement from a society that has shuttered not just sex but sensuality tightly behind closed doors; a society that wants us to walk a fine line between being attractive enough- in just the right ways- and not embracing or enjoying it too much because that would be vain, narcissistic, or cheap.
 

The next frontier

 
Like the movement towards body positivity- towards recognising both beauty and health in a gorgeous variety of shapes, sizes and colours- changing these things is going to require us to be brave.
 
To challenge these judgements about our worth and our motives and what “good girls” do.
 
To decide for ourselves on the relationship we want to have with our body, our sensuality and sexuality and charisma and our feminine power.
 
We will have to stand strong, knowing that we are the forward guard of the next engagement in this battle we’ve been fighting for control of our bodies. And we will have to stand together, supporting the women beside us as they explore their power and find their own path to authenticity.
 
No more shaming. No more being a part of the problem, my friends. Get out there and celebrate the f*** out of each other.
 
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There is nothing more important in life than stories. We’re creating them all the time- the big, epic, where-the-hell-was-the-editor stories of our marriage or career or building a family, and the little stories of a day or a moment. I was talking to one of my Famous Photographer Friends (I am very much the girl next door in my circle of star-studded BFFs) a while ago, brainstorming for an art project, and we got to talking about how at the beginning of our careers we had this crazy idea that photography was about photographs. Now, though, we’ve come to our senses and realised the truth- that yes, we love that we are making incredible art, but what really matters is the story.

Easy, or amazing?

The thing about stories, though, is that they’re easy to miss out on. It’s easy to do the sensible thing instead of the daring thing. It’s easy to space out on your phone instead of making friends with a stranger on an airplane. Easy to stick to your routine instead of growing. Easy to stay comfortable. Easy, easy, easy…

So this month I’m here to to remind you that the new year is perfect time to shake free of your comfort zone and take some risks. Make some stories. Read some, too. Be just a little bit more of the person you wish you were. Above all, stop telling yourself you can’t. “Can’t” is a bullshit word and you’re better than that.

Why the hell do we call it a comfort zone anyway?

The truth is, your comfort zone doesn’t keep you safe. It doesn’t even make you comfortable. It keeps you from growing, from changing, from feeling proud of yourself for doing something hard and amazing.

What would you do today if you weren’t afraid? What would be your next story? Think about it.

Beautiful woman floating in water with angel wings

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  • Star, I can’t even begin to tell you just how much I love your blog. I always feel like you’re talking directly to me. I haven’t met you yet, but there is a genuineness and caring energy that comes through in your blog and I felt it in the live video you did when you announced the winners of your spokesmodel contest. I’m really looking forward to meeting you on Sunday 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Star

      Oh, thank you Michelle! That made my day. I’m really excited to meet you too! <3ReplyCancel