This is my first official blog post on my Big Girl Blog. Writing is something that comes easy to me, I’ve been furiously jotting down fanfiction and arguing passionately on the internet since I was 13 years old. This isn’t even my first attempt at starting a blog. But this is my first time trying to get a specific message out into the universe in the hopes that it impacts someone else’s life a little bit.
That’s a huge task, right? So, like, where do you even start when you’ve got a message to spread and a whole tide of misinformation out there to push back against?
I think I’m supposed to just start with me. So. That’s what I’m going to do.
Who Am I?
So, first up is the nitty-gritty. My name’s Becca! As of this post, I’m a 30-year-old photographer from western Pennsylvania and I go by she/her pronouns. I’m a self-loving queer, fat bitch and honestly, I don’t care if you think that’s, like, glorifying obesity or promoting an UnHeAlThY LiFeStYlE, so save it. I’ve got two kids under 10, a husband, and a saint bernard named Ponyo who is the size of a full-grown adult.
This is kinda starting to sound a bit like a dating profile, right? I, for one, do not like long walks on the beach or candlelit dinners, and the only lovey-dovey, lovelorn staring into someone’s eyes I can get behind is when I and my husband are desperately trying to get the other one to agree to cook dinner.
One thing to note, though: I’m passionate as hell about what I do.
What… Exactly Do I Do?
Settle in, babies, it’s time for a story.
Early in February of 2020, I had a mission. It was the ultimate nerd mission, and I was going to do it no matter what.
I was going to sew historically accurate garments and record myself doing it so I could make a YouTube channel.
Groundbreaking, right? Listen, I was heavily influenced by Bernadette Banner and Cathy Hay, so in some roundabout way, I have them to thank for all this. But, either way, I went to Best Buy to pick up a camera that had solid video quality for beginners. I found my Nikon D3500 and took it home, treated it like a baby…
and then didn’t do anything with it. I didn’t sew garments, I didn’t shoot videos. It just… sat there. I had no idea how to use it, I didn’t know what aperture or shutter speed or ISO meant and histograms sounded like something I got when I visited the OBGYN.
I did some research, watched a few tutorials, and decided one day at the beginning of March to take my camera out to Jones Mill Run in the Laurel Hills state park, took it off manual, and… kind of discovered a passion. I loved taking pictures of my family running around the trail, I loved the waterfalls, I loved being able to change the image completely based on the way I composed it.
It was great! I was going to practice photography and work as a dental assistant and take classes for dental hygiene and that was that. Photography was just a fun new hobby and nothing else.
And then my aforementioned giant dog pulled me down my front steps and I broke not one but both of my legs. I was in a nursing home for nearly an entire month while I waited to heal enough that I could even make it into my house without injuring myself further. I went under for surgery on my left leg and woke up to the world on fire with CoVID-19. I spent weeks without my family in a lockdown-era nursing home with nothing to do.
And then I found body-positive boudoir photographer Tay at goodbodiesokc on Instagram. It was like something clicked.
A Journey to Body Neutrality
I’ve always, like literally always, been the fat kid. I didn’t realize it or really care until someone else pointed it out to me. I was the lone brown-haired fat kid in my mom’s brood of blonde-haired thin kids at home. It’s not an unusual story, honestly, and I know I don’t have to go into it in detail for many of the people reading this to relate. So I’ll be fast about it.
From an early age, I was on diet after diet. I was never working hard enough, eating few enough calories, or shedding weight fast enough. There was one glorious summer when I was 14 or 15 when I lost some weight and was briefly deemed acceptable, but that was fading. Eventually, an eating disorder developed, and I held onto that until I was almost in my 30s.
Looking back, I wasn’t even exceptionally large-bodied. I was a perfectly normal-sized person. But that’s not what my reality was, and my life was forever changed because of it.
Fast forward to early 2020 and I was still in the middle of a battle with my body and food, but I was getting sick of it. Thanks to many fat activists and body-positive pillars online, I was able to start seeing my body in a different way. I was able to appreciate every lump and bump and weird color and hill and valley. Maybe not immediately, maybe not unconditionally, but it was a start. It was something. And it was freeing.
From Tay’s content, I found Teri Hofford and discovered the joy of body neutrality and from there a fire started to burn. I didn’t see enough bodies that looked like mine in the media, on Instagram, or anywhere else for that matter. And I knew I wasn’t alone.
Wait, What’s Boudoir Photography Got to Do With Any of This?
RIGHT. We were talking about boudoir photography. Right.
So I was stuck in bed with nothing much to do other than play obsessive amounts of Animal Crossing and browse Instagram. I was filling my Instagram feed with photographers, thinking that maybe I could make a hobby out of this.
At some point, I don’t remember when, it hit me that out of all the boudoir photographers I was following, only maybe two of them prominently featured fat bodies or even just bodies that weren’t the “standard”.
I had a whole lot of internal dialogue surrounding why that was, what it was that made people want to cling to long upheld beauty standards, all of that I’ll be happy to talk about later on.
But at the end of the day, something clicked. When I decided I would pick up my camera and use it to highlight real bodies, warts and all, I felt like I found my calling.
Once I was able to walk again, I started to look around for people who would be willing to get naked and vulnerable for me and I was lucky enough to have a few friends and even some family volunteer as tributes. I took some shots, found out I was actually pretty good at it and decided that this was the way I was going to make money from here on out.
I switched my major from pre-dental hygiene to communications (I’m kind of in love with the learning process, I don’t see me leaving college any time soon…) and dug deep to learn everything I could about building a small business on a dream and a half-assed, shouted affirmation to the universe.
So… What’s the Point?
So that’s where I stand now. I’m new, yeah. I’m not incredibly experienced, I’m not even close to being as talented as some of the photographers I see online, but I have a purpose. I have a mission. I have a goal to work towards and I can promise that, no matter what comes my way, I am always going to do my best to uplift the bodies, and the voices that those bodies belong to, that don’t fit in anywhere else.
It’s our job to kick down the doors that are closed to us.
Let’s get to work.