To be fat and to be sexy aren’t mutually exclusive terms, but if you told me that a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.
It’s not that I couldn’t see other plus-size women’s appeal — I just couldn’t see my own.
In an effort to change the way I thought about and looked at myself, I began snapping a selfie a day and committed to it for one whole year. I spent 365 days pushing myself outside my comfort zone; I went outside without sleeves, and even posed in my first two-piece bathing suit. And while I felt more content with myself, I still didn’t feel "sexy." So I decided to finish out the year with one last challenge: A boudoir shoot that couldn’t hide one lump, bump, or roll.
And it was nothing like I had expected.
Firstly, who you work with absolutely matters. As a woman treading in uncharted waters, I wanted a photographer who understood my goals. Through research and recommendations, I found the immensely talented Cheyenne Gil.
Gil prides herself on shooting in a raw and real way. Women aren’t retouched in the editing process (save for some skin smoothing to get the lighting just right).
“I had always had a poor self image,” Gil confessed. “My mother, who is gorgeous, always saw herself as fat, and I am factually larger than my mom, so I always thought that meant I must be awful. But after spending years hating myself, I set out on a mission to love myself.”
And her journey led her to helping women do the same through photography. Gil's “Body Love Tribe” photoshoots put women of all shapes and sizes into a body-positive space that makes them feel unapologetically fierce.
She began by sending me a packet of dos and don’ts, which included everything from making sure I didn’t starve myself in “preparation” to making sure I chose outfits that made me feel good — even if they're not conventionally sexy.
If you aren’t comfortable in corsets or thigh-highs, don’t squeeze yourself into them. For the photos to come out well, you have to be at ease, which is something I admittedly struggled with in the beginning. I had about three mini meltdowns in the dressing room trying on bras and bralettes as it sunk in that these would result in actual photographs of my half-naked ass.