In 2008 I photographed Kristen Holzapfel. It was part of a healing journey for her. Little did I know that her experiences in life would lead her to be an author and helping others in sharing her story.
Here are her words:
In 2008, a nasty workplace situation had prompted a two year struggle with problematic eating patterns and a shoddy body image. I was exhausted with the ugly thoughts that were infiltrating my daily routines and, in an attempt to add some light and colour to my life, I signed up for a series of “boudoir” photos. Fun and sexy photography would surely build my self-confidence, would it not?
Well, it certainly was fun. For weeks before, my closest friends and I giggled like naughty schoolgirls as we bought feather boas and strings of faux pearls in readiness for Project Self-Confidence. My photographer, Hilary Wardhaugh, was the utmost professional and I felt completely at ease in her hands. I was over the moon with the photos she presented me with and I marvelled at my beautiful smiling self, resplendent in pretty underwear. I was beautiful.
Shortly after the photo shoot, my workplace situation deteriorated and problematic eating patterns descended into a full blown eating disorder. Six months after the photo shoot, I’d lost a vast amount of weight and was hospitalised for anorexia.
For a long time, I couldn’t look at my beautiful boudoir photos. They were, I believed, images of me when I was unspeakably and unforgivably fat.
As I slowly became well, I looked at the photos and thought “meh”. I dismissed them as the work of a clever photographer and well-engineered lingerie.
I hadn’t thought of these photos for years when, the other day, I was cleaning up and discovered the photos. I found the album amongst a pile of books and smiled, remembering the fun and laughter from that day. I opened it up and gazed at the pictures I hadn’t seen in so long. Whoa! I was HAWT!
In a few short weeks, I’ll be forty years old and will have been recovered from anorexia for some time. Since those photos were taken, I’ve been prescribed appetite-increasing medication and my metabolism has slowed to a middle-aged crawl. I’ve changed since those photos were taken and my body has too. This fact is neither disastrous nor unexpected. It just is.
I love and admire these photos for what they are: a courageous and playful representation of my body, as it was in this particular moment. The photos represent my determination to pursue self-love despite the thoughts of self-hatred that were brewing so loudly in my head.
I’m still the same determined woman I was back in 2008, albeit a different age and weight. I’m proud of who I was then and, even more, who I am now. I’m so glad I asked Hilary to capture these photos and I treasure the experience.
It’s taken several years, but I’d have to say Project Self-Confidence was a success. Thank you, Hilary xoxo
Check out her website if you or anyone you know feels they need help with their journey of recovery.
Author of “Selfless: a social worker’s own story of trauma and recovery”
Here are a few images from her boudoir session we did in 2008! Gorgeous!