the gift that gives back ~ victoria bc boudoir photography

“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.” – Andre Gide

I see quite a few clients who initially think of boudoir because they wanted to get it as a gift to their partner for birthday, wedding, Christmas, etc. One of my favourite parts of these sessions is watching as the initial concept of a gift for someone else inevitably becomes a gift to themselves. Boudoir photography is such a fun and sexy surprise for a lover, but it’s so much more than that. It becomes an experience that changes each client, either in a small way just for a temporary amount of time, or significantly for life. I’ve seen every side of the spectrum. It always fills me up to watch a client see their photos and gasp as they realize just how much power they hold inside them at all times. This amazing woman was no exception. She came into my studio to get photos as a gift, and ended up gifting herself as well. (And I also got to steal her into my heart as someone I admire and adore because she’s a super rad adorable nerd and just all around rad lady!)

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Sharing Her Journey ~ Victoria BC + Destination Boudoir Photography

Every client has a different story. Every person has a different struggle with their body. We all have unique vessels, and therefore it’s no surprise that our own individual journeys within them vary hugely. Toxic culture and body shame affects us all – not one of us is immune to it. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this job so far, it’s that society wreaks havoc on all of our psyche. So when I get to capture these photos with people and we work through deconstructing that toxic narrative together… it means the world. When the amazing people I get to work with choose to share their story and what their photos mean to them, it adds fuel to my fire to keep persevering and sharing this message with the world.

I met this amazing woman while I was in Nicaragua working with Momentom Collective. Instantly, I was drawn to her bubbly and positive energy. She had a way of talking to you that makes you feel heard, supported, loved, and understood. I tried acro yoga for the first time with her as one of my partners, and it was an amazing experience being physically supported by her while also feeling like she had me emotionally supported as well throughout that process. Just an amazing woman with an infinite heart.

I am going to let her own words and images speak through the rest of this post. She has a special part in my heart, and I know she will have one in yours as well.


When I was in Nicaragua, I did a thing. I (a little nervously) stripped down on the beach with [Molly] and it was a lot of fun. Sharing this photo today, I had something in mind to say, but in this moment something totally different wants to come out.

My 37 year old self is at long last loving and celebrating this incredible collection of muscles and skin and bones it gets to call home. I sob writing this today for my 22 year old self, trapped by anorexia, bulimia, and anxiety. That hard, determined, young woman who was more like a child- 99 pounds, wearing children’s size 12 jeans, with fleece pants underneath because she couldn’t ever stay warm. Because she didn’t know how to love what she saw in the mirror. She didn’t know it was ok to be imperfect. She was lonely, and ashamed, and masterful at controlling what others perceived. I remember the overwhelming feeling that it might all fall apart, that the wall I built so methodically would crumble and reveal me. That this person or that person could see through the cracks and would find out my giant secret... I resolved then, that even if it was hard, I would have to keep it up. Forever.

I didn’t know how to feel safe in my body. I certainly didn’t know how to feel safe and accepted in the world. It all started to loosen it’s grip on me when I was 26... By then, I had been tangled into disordered eating for 6 years, and body dysmorphia for much longer.

But like a fist that’s been clenched shut for too long, the softening and healing took years. And the ability to talk about that time in my life has only come recently. Like it’s finally far away enough in the rear view mirror to admit that it was real.

And I am kinda terrified to share these words here... but the ability to name what I experienced and connect to the emotions I still hold around that time... I believe shines a light into that dark space inside myself. Allows the healing to keep spreading spreading like wildflowers. From my yard to the yard of anyone that needs this healing too.
And so I share [this] today. Because I’m laughing and not only at ease, but HAPPY in this magnificent body. And the light is just so beautiful in this photo -shining behind me, like every part of my past until now. Illuminating the person I am today. A person who is committed to growing and loving and being REAL, imperfections and all.


Onward with LOVE.

Molly AshlieComment