This may be a biased post but it's important, and she's my best friend. She'd cook me pizza when we were 7. Choreograph dance routines together when we were 9. Go to clubs in Sheffield with silly wigs on when we were 18.
Belle is the bubbliest 5ft 2 unwavering ray of sunshine. She's had her share of shit and is as solid as they come. Which makes me question why I'm still so in awe of her strength when I've seen it every day for the last 20 years.
It's been a tough journey weight-wise. Belle is naturally built bigger. There's more of her to love, and this is about her journey to accepting that, and loving all of herself as much as we all do.
Belle hasn't really ever complained about it. She's had gripes, of course. Days where she's just felt rubbish; a human experience. But she hasn't ever looked at someone slimmer and made digs or self-deprecating remarks like I have when comparing my body to others. It's never felt like a her-vs-them thing, more a 'that's you and that's great, this is me and that's ok too' thing.
A little over 2 years ago, she found a burning passion for fitness. She completed a Personal Trainer course and started working at a gym. Since then, she has educated herself on nutrition, mindset, hormones and anatomy which has been vital to how she views, treats and forgives herself.
Fat distribution; I didn't realise but that shit is wild. It's different for everyone. "Washboard abs just aren't on the cards for some people, Em, no matter how hard they work at it". This is something she is always gently reminding me when I get frustrated and pick apart my own body. Once this realisation set in for her, it's easier to let the shit go (shit being body expectations). All of our bodies are different, they respond in different ways. They are uniquely ours, no matter how hard we try to mould them into our fanciful ideals.
Belle trains 4 days a week, but this isn't about weight loss. Outwardly, her body looks similar. But she loves training. She feels worthy. Powerful. Strong. And feeling strong feels mighty fucking good.
She wanted to do a body positive boudoir shoot to celebrate getting to this point. Embracing her body, being comfortable enough in it to share it with the world, not just for herself but to be a beacon. To let others know their body is just as worthy as anyone else's. These photos are a promise; I see you, I will practice to love you, and I will look back on these photos in 20 years time and appreciate the vessel I was once in.
Belle showed up and gave it everything. Vulnerability, pride, self-compassion. Nothing more to wish for.
“For the longest time I have struggled with my body image. Lots of fluctuations in weight, crazy diets and excessive training took its toll on my mental health.
Over the last year I have started my self love journey and when I decided to do a boudoir shoot with Emily I was excited but also a little nervous. I have finally come to terms with how my body is now and Emily made it so easy for me to celebrate that during the shoot! The experience was so empowering and once I saw the photos I felt at peace. She managed to capture moments of joy and self love that is helping me even more through my self love journey - I cannot thank her enough. Celebrating who I am and loving every second of it. An amazing experience that I am so thankful for.”