10 STEPS TO ACHIEVE THE PERFECT BODY
Sasha Dale Photography
Norwich, CT - 46 women from MA, RI and CT took a stand for themselves, for their daughters and for all women everywhere and declared “I AM ENOUGH. I AM BEAUTIFUL. WE ARE ENOUGH. WE ARE BEAUTIFUL.”
These women decided it was time for a change and they wanted to be a part of the movement. The “PERFECT BODY” does exist… and it’s in ALL OF US. We are given one body, and to hell if we are going to spend our lives dishonoring it and being unkind to ourselves.
Did you know that only about 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by American’s in the media as the ideal body, yet a whopping 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve this ideal body shape? That’s over 100 million women who are not happy with their bodies.
The more we strive to look like someone we are not, the more people will view that ‘someone-we’re-not’ as the ideal body. If we all start to stand tall and show the world that WE ARE BEAUTIFUL - we can slowly push away the ONE PERFECT BODY ideal and replace it with the EVERY PERFECT BODY ideal.
Throughout the course of the summer, these 46 women traveled to my studio in Norwich CT (some coming from as far as 2 hours away) and they each stepped in front of my camera and stripped down to as little as they felt comfortable wearing, some in bikinis and swimsuits, others in lingerie, a few topless and even fewer completely nude.
In photographing this project I learned SO much. I’ve been working through my own journey of self-love and body-image realignment this year, and having the incredibly opportunity to come face-to-face with 46 other women standing proud in their skin was priceless. Not only because I had the honor of witnessing their bravery stepping in front of my camera as their most vulnerable selves - but to really see the proof before my eyes. Not ONE SINGLE WOMAN was exactly the same. From skin color, to elasticity, to stretch marks, to hip shape, to leg length, nose shape, eye color, hair style, breast size and shape, type of belly button, fingers, legs, height, hair - you name it. Everyone was so beautifully different and that’s EXACTLY what makes us all perfect, perfectly beautiful. One of the women used a wheelchair to help her manage her cerebral palsy, while another has navigated her every day life with out a left hand for the past 7 years. Many women were mothers who had stretch marks that reminded me of the glowing bottom of a swimming pool when the sun hits it just right. Others had extra skin like a beautiful layer of satin folded over their bodies. The more I photographed these women, one by one, the more I watched an incredibly stunning piece of artwork grow before my eyes. How incredibly lucky are we to be the ONLY one like us? You can’t compare a Van Gogh to Monet. Both are so incredibly different, yet so incredibly beautiful.
“To hold something tangible means it is real, so holding a stunning photo of a beautiful woman and have that woman be me gave me real confidence for the first time in my life.”
Another fun part of the project? Tattoos. Our bodies are a beautiful place to share our stories, and they do so well without tattoos, but so many women use tattoos to add a little more. Like the momma with glowing stretch marks and extra skin, you know part of her story is that she’s a momma. Then the tattoo sometimes shares the detail of how many, how old or how much love she has in her life.
In my journey through this photography project, I did some research on ways to increase self-confidence, self-love and to feel more beautiful. I found some good articles over at Grace & Lightness, The Tempest, Thought Catalog and Pick the Brain in which I’ve incorporated in the 10 steps below. I also attended an online Body Image Bootcamp course led by Teri Ledgerwood which was eye opening to say the least!
I will be putting together a stunning coffee table book, with each page featuring one of the stunning 46 women from this project and their biographies. If you are interested in learning more about when this book will be available to purchase, please sign up at the bottom!
So here you have it - 10 easy steps to feel beautiful in your skin RIGHT NOW!
1. Be Naked
Nudity has been vilified for centeries in our Western civilization and therefore we rarely experience the benefits of sleeping naked or even spending a few extra minutes naked when we get out of the shower. Raise your hand if you immediately wrap yourself in your towel and leave it on while getting ready? It’s habit. We feel wrong being naked—yet, spending more time naked increases self-acceptance, decreases body image dissatisfaction, and boosts overall life satisfaction because nudity removes the notion that we have to apologize, hide, or be ashamed of ourselves. Mind-blowing, right?
Try this: After your shower, door closed, stay naked. Brush your teeth, moisturize your skin, apply your make-up. Spend this 5-10 minutes every day and observe the way you feel after doing this for a few days. (Feel free to increase this time if you are feeling adventurous. Can you be naked for 1 hour?)
The more you do this, being naked can eventually feel like a natural part of your day. That tinge of embarrassment you once may have felt from just being naked will be replaced with a feeling of freedom and resoration to your mind and body. Next time you buy clothes to boost your self-esteem, consider that you might get more benefit from ditching them altogether. (And being naked costs less too!)
2. Wear lingerie
These days, again -especially in our western culture, it is as if lingerie is only a sexual thing, not even meant for you but for your partner. Do you ever notice the difference in lingerie you find from European shops versus American? Europeans have the right idea - lingerie is MORE than for sex. Lingerie SHOULD be something that women buy and wear for THEMSELVES. It makes them feel beautiful and sexy- and lord knows we all deserve this.
Try this: Wear a MATCHING pair of lingerie under your regular clothing. When you match these, it’s actually proven to boost your self esteem because it is an affirmation to your self worth that you took the time for YOU to make en effort in putting the outfit together. You’ll know how sexy you feel and no one needs a peek at what’s underneath. It’s your own little sexy secret and internal confidence booster and it also lights up your feminine creativity ;)
“Feeling good in your lingerie is imperative, regardless of whether anyone else will sneak a peek of you in it or not.” -The Tempest
3. Smile in public
According to The Art of Charm, “by forcing yourself to smile you'll actually begin to feel positive emotions that'll boost your confidence. Reason being, when you make yourself smile you stimulate the same area of the brain that's active when you're smiling naturally. You are essentially commanding your brain to start feeling more positive emotions.” I try this often and it truly feels powerful! Sometimes I even thrown in a ‘good morning’ or a casual wave… and suddenly I feel pretty kick-ass!
Try this: today - smile at the FIRST person you see…and then every person after that. ;)
4. Book a boudoir photoshoot
Boudoir photography is becoming more and more common among women as a way of self-love. While it started off as a very popular way to create a sexy album for a significant other, women have started to realize that these photoshoots are actually quite therapeutic and empowering for themselves too. Over the years, more and more women have been booking boudoir photoshoots for themselves as a way to celebrate their bodies and confidence, and others have been booking boudoir photoshoots to boost their self-esteem. Photographers who specialize in boudoir are able to pose every woman in ways that flatter their individual bodies and most will offer wardrobe and lingerie suggestions. Spoiler alert: boudoir photography doesn’t HAVE to be about lingerie. You can be photographed in a slouchy oversized shirt and the photographer can pose you in a sexy-fliry way with one shoulder revealed and your collar bone slightly popped, maybe your head turned to the side in a small giggle - that alone can be just as sexy as lingerie! A bonus is that many boudoir photo experiences also include professional hair and makeup which allows them to feel pampered from the moment they step foot into the studio. See what some women have said after their boudoir photoshoots:
“Walking out of my session was nothing short of exhilarating.”
“Working with Sasha Dale helped reinforce to my doubting-self, the beauty of the body I am living in.”
“I realized that I wasnt talking respectfully to my body and my photoshoot made me realize I need to be nicer to myself, no matter what I think I looked like.”
“It was a transformative experience that will forever remind me that I rocked entering my 40's, and I will cherish those images forever.”
“I loved working with [your team], getting out of my comfort zone and embracing my journey as a woman. It gave me confidence throughout the duration of my pregnancy and has taught me to love my body at all of its stages.”
Try this: Ask around to see if any of your girlfriends have done this and learn about their experiences. Do some research and check out a few photographers near you who’s work you jive with and if you are feeling bold, reach out. If you aren’t sure, just follow them for a while and learn about the stories of other women who have worked with them!
According to the American Posture Institute, researchers found that by adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can help people better maintain self-esteem, reduce their negative mood associated with the stress, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture.
Try this: It is highly likely that you are sitting down right now as you read this article. Sit up straight—even if just for the few minutes it takes you to complete this blog. I’m sitting up straight now as I write this. It feels so wrong - but as I’ve learned from a friend and Pilates instructor, our muscle and tissue memory is telling us it’s wrong because we have trained our bodies for so long to slouch. Once you do it more, it will become easier and easier.
6. Observe the wonders of your body
Have you ever said to yourself, I wish…my nose was smaller—my tummy was flatter—my face didn’t have these wrinkles—my skin was tight… or something along these lines?
Try this: Instead of ‘I wish my nose was smaller’, try ‘I’m so thankful for my nose. I have smelt some of the most amazing smells including fresh cooked pasta, newly cut grass and a colorful bouquet of flowers.’ Try to turn your negative into a positive.
For me - I used to say ‘I wish my tummy looked like it did 10 years ago.’ Now I say - I will never look like I did 10 years ago and I’m happy with that - because in those 10 years, I have birthed TWO beautiful children and this crazy, squishy tummy even held one of my children in long enough for her to survive outside the womb. My tummy is a link to my babies who have become my life.
7. Embrace your flaws - it’s a reminder that you are connected to HUMANITY
If we compare ourselves to the perfect body portrayed in today’s media standards, the fact is that most of us aren’t “beautiful”. Even models and actresses are plastered all over tabloids and media as not-perfect or beautiful when they are caught in public in their natural every-day look.
Most of us know that this standard of beauty is unrealistic and very exhausting to even attain something close to it - we still spend way too much time, energy and money to try and achieve it.
Try this: Look at the parts of your body you don’t love. Really look at them. Study them, embrace them. Look at their curves, color, freckles, wrinkles, extra skin. Touch those parts of your body, feel them and embrace them. These are the parts of you that make you different, and the parts that tell your story and your heritage.
8. Break a sweat - dance, exercise, move your body.
I also did some research on dancing and found some great tips from Celebrity Dance Studio Self-confidence is built during dancing and even performing for others.
Try This: Taking Lessons
Learning new moves can be tough but the sense of achievement you feel when you learn them is a huge confidence booster. When you realize that you are capable of doing anything you set your mind to, including learning dance moves that you never imagined yourself doing can make your feel incredible. If you become bold enough, you may even consider dancing for others. The more you dance in front of someone else, the more your confidence sores! I can share from experience that when I became a cheerleader in highschool, my confidence grew with every game and competition. It’s envigorating and empowering!
Try this: Doing it at home
You don’t have to spend money to dance- and you can certainly ask Alexa to play your favorite station and get down in the kitchen while cooking dinner. Dancing allows you to express yourself and absolutely does not need to be done in front of a crowd if you prefer to do it on your own. The act itself is exciting, fun and builds your self confidence. We like to play a little ‘spanish cooking music’ when we are making dinner. It’s great dance music, gets us laughing and we get this insane appreciation of how happy we are in this moment.
9. Create something
Creating something new is a beautiful way of self-expression. It allows you to funnel your emotions and personality into something tangible. The final product gives you a proud sense of accomplishment which we all know boosts self confidence! You know what else it does? It re-focuses your mental energy on what you are working with and takes it away from destructive and negative thoughts. It’s a great way to turn negative energy into something positive. Plus it’s very therapeutic!
Try this: grab a coloring book and some colored pencils, pick a page and just begin to color in the lines. Take 5-10 minutes every day to channel your inner creativity and in a few weeks you may be wanting to try something new and more complex!
10. Get a tattoo!
I found a pretty great article on Chronic Ink Tattoo’s website discussing SEVEN great benefits of getting a tattoo - but I’m just going to talk about one of them here. You can read the rest of the benefits on their site!
I can FINALLY attest to the fact that tattoos are associated with confidence. I received my first tattoo earlier this year in Las Vegas and it was so exciting and I couldn’t wait to show it off. The process was pretty cool too, a little painful but made me feel pretty badass. Your body releases a combination of endorphins and adrenaline which boosts you into an amazingly excited state- and leads you wanting more! I received my 2nd tattoo only 2 months later!
A study of 2,395 college students on Science Direct, found a correlation between tattoos and self-esteem— the more tattoos, the bigger the confidence boost. Those with four or more tattoos had significantly higher self-esteem than those with less. This was especially among those who reported a history of depression.
Getting a tattoo gives you a sense of control over yourself and allows you to reclaim something that has been lost or taken. How many of you have gotten a tattoo - survivor, I am enough, I am beautiful, you can’t break me…etc.?
Try this: Tattoos of course are not for everyone, but if you are enticed, try something small. I went with three words. “I am enough.” I wrote it in my own handwriting and had it tattooed under my breast by my rib cage- so no one else sees it but me. (Well and my husband and anyone at the beach when I’m in a two-piece!) The words will always mean so much to me - not only because of WHAT they say, but because it’s MY handwriting. It’s that constant reminder every day that I am enough!
There you have it. 10 steps to the perfect body. Your confidence is now higher, your self-esteem is soring, and you realize you already have the perfect body. Love the body you’ve been given. <3
If you would like to be notified when the EveryBodies coffee table book is available for purchase, please fill out the form below!