16. Have Sexy Photos Taken

This is me. I almost can't believe it, but it's true - and there are more where this one came from.

A few weeks ago, I tried (and failed) to find my sexy at a pole dancing class. A few weeks prior to that I wore a bathing suit in public. Both of these experiences proved to be particularly challenging, but I learned a lot from trying it. Still on a quest to find my sexy, I thought I'd combine what I learned from wearing a bathing suit in public with what I had been searching for in the pole dancing class, and have some boudoir photography.

I had heard recently about someone having this type of photography done, and they had been so pleased with the results. My immediate response was, "I'm so glad she did that and had such a great experience, but I could never do that." It sounded like the perfect opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. And so, I called the ladies at Sugar and Spice Photography. Angela and Cyndi are the best of friends who shared a common desire to have some sexy photos taken. After finding that there weren't really any women that specialized in this type of photography, they decided to become experts and take the pictures themselves. After taking photography classes, they only had the intention to take these photographs for each other. Once they shared their work with friends, the word spread, and soon they were doing these photographs for friends of friends. Finally, they found space, opened an official studio, and the rest is history.

On the day that I called, I was wise to have not given much thought to what I was getting myself into. I had a great conversation with Angela and she made me feel so comfortable and at ease. "I have to tell you something," I said to Angela, "I'm really fat." I couldn't believe I said that word, because that word is so full of hate and disgust, and I have worked so hard to use more supportive words when talking about my body. Angela assured me that they find beauty in everyone and they shoot women of all shapes and sizes. I have always been a fan of the 1940's pin-up look. I love the way those photographs celebrate the female form by playing up the natural curves, and tastefully suggesting a hint of sexuality. Intrigued by this look, I committed to becoming a pin-up girl for a photo-shoot. I booked an appointment and gave my credit card number for a deposit. After I hung up, I had a moment of regret. I couldn't believe I was really going to do this. This was so out of character. Having worked in radio for the past 6 years, I have had my share of photographs taken. I absolutely HATE it. I have never seen a photo of myself that I actually like. Even my wedding photos, on the day that I felt the most beautiful, there are only a handful that I really love. What on earth was I thinking? Having pictures taken in my underwear? I hardly look at myself in my underwear. But, the damage was done, I had put down a deposit, scheduled a shoot, and told my husband I was going to do it. There was no backing out.

Sugar and Spice Photography is located in Buffalo, MN. This is easily a 55 minute drive from my house in South Minneapolis. This means 55 minutes of time alone behind the wheel of the car to think. Time to work up the nerves, and consider chickening out. Believe me, had I not put down a deposit, I would have called them from the car to tell them I was too scared, headed back home, and happily stopped at every Taco Bell on the way for a chili-cheese burrito or two (and believe me, there are many Taco Bells on my route). Instead, I kept driving toward Buffalo, cranked up the radio, and tried to drown out my inner voice. That loud mouth can be pretty hard to get away from.

When I arrived at the studio, I met the two most beautiful women. Angela and Cyndi are seriously gorgeous on the outside (within minutes, I would find out how absolutely beautiful they are on the inside, too). I felt the most faint instinct to make a break for it and employ my plan to stop at every Taco Bell, leaving them to laugh at this goofy girl who actually thought for one moment that she could look sexy. Instead, I defaulted to my humor and said with a gesture, "do you think you can make this look sexy?" They assured me that it would take minimal effort and sat me down in the make-up chair. They take care of the make-up, the clothing, and the coffee (when you go, have Cyndi make the coffee - Angela knows that it's not her strength), and your job is to relax and get ready to have fun. I felt like I had connected with long lost friends. The three of us did all the things that girls do; talked about shoes, make-up, our kids, and diets. I almost forgot that they were going to see me in my underwear, and then... we were picking out my underwear. As I was getting dressed, Angela asked me, "what is your favorite part of your body?" She asked it so nonchalantly and I felt like I had been socked in the stomach. "I don't have one," I told her honestly. I hadn't thought about that, do people have a "favorite part" of their body? Should I have one?

I was relieved to find that the last thing they were concerned with was how I looked in my underwear. In fact, it was such a non-issue. They were busily focusing on how to compose the best shot. They are artists, and they had spent the time getting to know me, and assured me that we were going to find my inner vixen, and make her the star of some seriously sexy photos. Much to my surprise, it happened! This shot at the right was seriously among the first shots. Look at me, do I look the least bit uncomfortable? I was having a blast! Angela and Cyndi showed me one of the pictures they had just shot as long as I promised not to be critical (they reminded me that they would get rid of the hail damage on my thighs when they touched the photo up - and they are masters at the touch-up). I couldn't believe that they had found this vixen inside of me, made her come out, and then caught it on film. I let my guard down, and trusted them. They were generous with the compliments, "that's hot", "you're sexy", and "look at how gorgeous you are" are commonly heard in the Sugar and Spice Photography Studio. The best part is that Angela and Cyndi don't just say it, they mean it.

When I was gathering my stuff and getting ready for the drive home, there was another woman just arriving to have her photos taken. She looked as nervous as I felt on the way there. I asked her if she was scared, and naturally - she said she was. I told her not to worry, she'd have the time of her life. Seeing her reminded me of the journey I had taken in those couple of hours. From timid to sex kitten.

In the car on the ride home, I cried. I cried because I haven't felt this beautiful in a very long time. Maybe I haven't felt this beautiful ever. On the one hand I feel a little ashamed of saying that because my husband makes me feel beautiful all the time. I realized that he makes me feel like he thinks I'm beautiful. This experience actually made me think that I am beautiful. There is a difference, a huge difference. Now I have photographic evidence of this revelation, and what I paid for the experience is tiny compared to the value that these photographs have to me. Now I can tell you if you ask, that my favorite part of my body is the whole darn thing. Everything that God gave me. Every little bit, and big bit. Because this girl, in these pictures, she is really me.

Next week, this little sailor is going to try to go a day without swearing. Not once.


  1. Wow, way to make me cry (in a good way). I can see myself doing this, only because you have led the way. Thank you!

  2. Cal - you look absolutely BEAUTIFUL in these photos. I honestly would've thought they were out of a magazine.

  3. Dear Colleen,
    I applaud you for being brave, for being vulnerable, and for giving yourself permission to love "you"...each and every part of you. You are one amazing woman, and I am continually reminded from you that life is meant to be LIVED! Thank you for leading the way and showing us how to do it.
    You are truly BEAUTIFUL!!!
    With love and friendship,

  4. Wow! These pictures are AMAZING! I applaud you for so many things in this article, not just getting doing a fun boudoir shoot, but for trying the pole dancing class as well as wearing a bathing suit in public (that's a hard one for me too)!

    Keep up the great work!

  5. WOW! What an inspiration! These pictures are soooo breathtakingly GORGEOUS!

  6. You are one hot mama. If it weren't for our husbands, I'd totally ask you out.

  7. You look absolutely beautiful. I've always wanted to do something like this.

  8. You have always come off as a gal who has it all together. I never would have imagined you felt this self doubt, ever! It's funny, I am no great beauty, but I have only one sibling, a sister. We have always lived with the labels, the pretty one (me) and the smart one (my big sis). Our parents didn't do this to us, but other folks around us. I have always had the weight of this label, and the weight of not having the smart label drag me down. I will never be as pretty as I was, and have never been as pretty as other people. Beauty isn't a value I have embraced, because it is fleeting. I have always wanted to be confident. That radiates from within, which until I read this, I I was certain you had it all and am still not convinced otherwise. You have been blessed with the perfect balance of smarts, good looks and confidence. I want to see myself through that lens!

    Keep up the good work!

  9. You are always beautiful but MAN!! Va Va Voom! I LOVE the pin up look on you. I congratulate you on keepin' your cool and bringin' Sexy Back!

  10. Colleen, Seriously with tears falling I am proud to say you are my facebook friend (and that I actually know you in real life too :) This was one of the most motivating pieces of writing I have ever read. Currently extremely short on cash (no job, etc) but once I find me one of those job things or win the lottery, I think I may do this. Really really va va va voom! and thank you for leading the way for those of us who also don't have a favorite part of ther bodies.

  11. Wow - I am Soooo impressed. Not only with how gorgeous these pictures are, but of your willingness to face this fear and then share your emotions so publicly. I'm inspired. Not enough to get nekkid myself, however. ;)

  12. Dear Collen-
    I am doing the Sugar & Spice photo shoot tomorrow. After reading your blog about it and hearing the you speak of it on the, I have decided to go through with it. I am terrified. I was excited, then nervous, now terrified. I know my husband will love it. The disclosure and photo rights are what make me the most anxious. I really really really don't want pictures of me in my underpants out there in the world. I am currently unemployed and looking for work and would just hate for any possible employer to see my face, next to my half naked body. Tell me I'm being paranoid, or tell me what you felt after posting those on your blog. I am doing the Vixen shoot and will, hopefully be fairly well clothed and shot tastefully, but still. Okay, if ya have a chance let me know how to calm down. I can't exactly drive to Buffalo after a drink and I don't have any Glaucoma meds, so what do I do?


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