I am a tall and curvy-bodied 28-year old queer woman. Growing up in Georgia, traditional ideas of femininity were ever-present; skinny, blond, heavily made-up, always in a dress and heels. Being heavier set made me incredibly self conscious and I struggled with body image issues until I moved to Portland four years ago. I used to always shy away from having my picture taken, and when I did pose I often opted for the much-maligned "duck face" to make my cheeks look thinner and my lips look poutier. Although I have always been a very positive and outgoing person, I thought that smiling made my face look fatter, and usually hated photos of myself where I was told to smile or laugh. Since moving to Portland I have developed a much stronger sense of self-esteem and self-worth, which includes a healthier dose of body-positivity than I ever thought would be possible. I credit the queer community that I have become a part of here for that change. Coming out and finding a community that celebrates my curves as much as my eccentricities has given me a confidence and happiness that has changed my life forever. I have become the girl that is always camera-ready, and thrives in the spotlight; the girl who always smiles in pictures, even open-mouthed!
When Gia approached me about modeling for VEV, I was ecstatic. In addition to being a very dear friend Gia is the most talented photographer I have ever known. Having already seen some of the portraits she had done with VEV, I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be photographed by her. I am not a morning person, so when she told me to be ready by 8am, I was unsure how much energy I would bring to the shoot. But her team was so positive and fun to be around that I was instantly relaxed and excited. Kelliana, the stylist, started by asking me what makes me feel beautiful, so she could make me look as close to my own ideal as possible. She was sassy and funny and brought a real spark to my experience. Jillian was also adorable beyond words. She was an absolute sweetheart and very easy to talk to. When it was finally time to get behind the camera I was so excited that I couldn't stop bouncing around and swishing my skirt. Gia was very encouraging and gave such good direction that I felt like a professional model the whole time. Every time she would stop and look at her camera, she would smile and tell me how great my pictures were turning out, furthering my exuberance. It would be tough to imagine a time that I have felt more beautiful and celebrated. Even after the shoot was over and I went about the rest of my day, I felt more confident and happy and pretty than I usually do.
Seeing final images was an overwhelmingly pleasant surprise. Although I felt gorgeous during the entirety of the shoot, I had no idea how stunning the outcome would be. I want to show everyone I know! Every time I look at the photos I can't help but well up with self-pride and happiness. No one has ever taken pictures of me that look like this, and I've never felt so striking and lovely. I couldn't give a high enough recommendation to anyone interested in VEV Studios. Everyone should have an opportunity to feel this good about themselves, and experience this level of special care and personal attention. It will change the way you look at yourself in the most positive way.