Joe and I were out with our street team at a roller derby bout supporting our local derby team that we sponsor, the Roller Radicals. Our street team was done up in full pin-up fashion from head to foot and they caught the attention of one very outgoing little 4 year old who wanted to do nothing more than dance and pose for them. We were all very smitten with this little lady who had the biggest smile and the most contagious giggle. As we entertained her by cheering and clapping for her posing and dancing, her mom came over, concerned she was bothering us to which we reassured her, she was absolutely no bother but rather adorable! She asked who we were, noticing the pin-up attire, so we handed her a business card, told her a little about us and the rest is history! We ended up meeting a new friend and a client who has made her way to VIP Client status within a year!
Meet Alicia. A Navy veteran serving as an intelligence specialist first class from 2004-2012 and who also deployed from 08-09 in support of operation enduring freedom. She’s very passionate about our country and our freedoms and you hear this when speaking with her.
But she’s more than a veteran. She’s also a mom to two gorgeous kids, Macey and Josh as well as a wife to Jeff, one of the most supportive husbands and also a Navy vet having served for 20 years with 8 deployments.
Like so many of us, life hasn’t always been easy and it still isn’t.
“Before I met Jeff 10 years ago, I went thru a string of bad relationships. From emotional abuse to physical abuse, I lost myself. Along with the stresses of military life, I became very depressed to the point of being hospitalized on multiple occasions.” Alicia explains. “Over the past few years I have been diagnosed with major depression disorder, severe anxiety, PTSD, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I’ve struggled to get past many life events and accept myself for who I am. There have been times where I really hated who I saw in the mirror. I would restrict what I ate, overeat and not care about my health, even self harm. I’ve never been kind to my body. ”
Over the last several years, Alicia began seeing mental health professionals and making a conscious effort to focus on self care. “While I have grown to love myself, I still suffer from physical pain and struggle with depression and anxiety. I’ve learned how to manage my symptoms and get thru the tough days without taking it out on my body.”
We hear it almost on a daily basis, from first time clients – how nerves sometimes consume them or make them question why they booked in the first place. Alicia is certainly no different in that respect.
She explains: “The day of (her session) I was so nervous. I actually thought to myself “what the hell did you sign up for this for? You hate pictures of yourself.” We ended up having a blast and I was beyond happy when we saw the pictures!! I felt amazing having my hair and makeup done in a way that I had never thought of before. I saw myself in a new light and felt as if I left every aspect of myself that I am unhappy with and stepped into a different body.”
Having worked with Alicia a handful of times now, we are able to spot those “tougher” days she mentioned when she walks into the studio. We never make a mention of it unless she brings it up first but even then, that’s not the focus of our conversation. When she leaves her session on those days with a little more sass in her step and a smile on her face, we feel blessed and grateful that we are able to turn someone’s day around with the experience we strive to give while capturing photos of a client who has booked her session for her own unique reason. When asked why she continues to come back, Alicia states matter of factly: “I’ve continued to do these shoots because I like who I see in those photos. I like the confidence I have when I get in front of the camera. It allows me to feel as if I’m a different person – one without pain or anxiety attacks or six hour crying sessions – even if it’s for a short time, the effects are lasting. Now when Jeff tells me I’m beautiful or sexy, I actually believe him. I’ve learned that I kinda like myself way more than I thought I ever could. It’s almost therapeutic. It helps me step out of my body, be someone else for a while and forget my daily struggles. ”
Alicia’s advice to every woman: “Any woman struggling with body image, confidence, personal strengths or weaknesses, feeling “down” about themselves or just as a little treat should do this at least once in their lives. It’s like a spa day only better.”
And that’s a sentiment we couldn’t agree with more!
Look for more sessions from this gal in the near future!
And last but not least, a few behind the scenes shots of Alicia having fun while we do some test shots!