Saturday, November 23, 2013

MILFin' It

When Ande Castaneda announced that she was booking for her annual holiday boudoir photo session, I looked down at my belly in its bloated early stages of pregnancy and wondered if I should bother.

Over the past three years, through the course of my pregnancy with Gabriel, over the ten days that I cared for him during his short life, while my body adjusted to post-partumhood, and through the first trimester of this pregnancy, I've discovered a lot about my body.  I've discovered that it is amazing in its capacity to grow life.  I've been angry at my body for what I perceived to be failures in miscarrying Baby Cude and not "properly" developing Gabriel.  I've marveled at how my body stretched to make room for Gabriel.  I've been vainly proud of how my body lost the weight from pregnancy.  I've wondered if anyone would ever look at my body with appreciation again when I found myself single.  And I've willed it to do its job once again in growing Rocco.

After a heated discussion on my page over the term "MILF" I did a lot of reflecting on why it is so important to me to feel attractive, and to feel like other people find me attractive. I've concluded that it's just a natural human want.  I've decided I shouldn't feel bad about that want.

My body has been through so much.  It was violated by a team of rapists.  It's been shared by three, tiny new lives now.  Its arms have held its own offspring while he took his last breath, and handed his lifeless body over to be cremated.  It has functioned even when its brain barely did.  It has functioned even when its heart has been broken.  My body is nothing special, and yet, it is, because the human body is special and wonderous and resilient and beautiful.  It deserves to be spotlighted once in a while.

Besides, Ande told me I would be her first pregnant boudoir subject.  Ande has recently quit her day job to focus on developing a full-time career in photography and make-up artistry.  She's talented, determined, on a precipice that could take her anywhere.  And I had an opportunity to be her first something.  I had an opportunity to have a little bit of involvement in something that could be very big.  So, I seized the opportunity.

This year Ande was not only photographing, but the photo package included hair-styling by one of her professional friends, and make-up by Ande too.  Last year I signed up to have my photos taken by Ande, but elected to do my own hair and make-up so I would feel more comfortable.  This year I was looking forward to taking on a bold look, to reflect some of the bold developments in my life.  Taking a job in worker's compensation law might not seem like a risky move, but it was when it was an area of law I knew nothing about.  Falling in love with a man who is kind and generous and loving and supportive might not  seem very brave, but believing that he really is all of those things and always will be meant taking a chance.  And telling Ande and Sarah, the hairstylist, that I wanted to look like Nancy Sinatra when I was 13 weeks pregnant was kinda risky too.  But it just seemed like the right thing do do.

Of the 30 edited images that came on my disk, I think I was critical of more than half of them.  My tummy looked puffy.  I could see all three of my chins.  My nose is big.  I have new and hideous "agespots" on my legs.  My arms are flabby.  I'm not a model.  But I still felt beautiful.  A baby lives in my tummy. My legs were voted the best in East Bakersfield High School's class of 1999, they've carried me through years of working on them for long hours, and they still look pretty good.  And my hair was huge, and rad.

I am a firm believer that every woman should treat herself to something that makes her feel beautiful.  Every woman IS beautiful.  Once in a while, she has to let herself believe it.

*Ande Castenada's beautiful make-up and photography are featured on her website:  In addition to boudoir photography she does wedding, engagement and family photos.  I can't encourage local readers enough to consider her for your own photography.

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