How often do our partners — the good ones, anyway — attempt to convince us they find our bodies, flaws and all, sexy as hell? But sadly, most women struggle with insecurities about their bodies, which affects their confidence in life and their relationships. We want the lights off during sex, cover certain body parts we're ashamed of, or don't even want to get intimate at all.
This was what inspired photographer Rachel Castillero , who, with several of her talented girlfriends, came up with a twist on the classic boudoir photos: Fox Sessions. She writes, "It's no secret that I love my girlfriends, they are my sisters, and some of my greatest joys in the life. And it breaks my heart how much we all struggle with insecurity and the desire to be beautiful, successful, smart, the perfect mothers, perfect wives, perfect everything. And since the women in my life have become some of my biggest sources of inspiration, I decided that it's about damn time they are celebrated."
Rachel shared more about the concept behind her project, along with some stunning photos of the Fox Sessions team demonstrating the photo shoots. Let's learn to love ourselves and maybe even get in touch with our sexy sides in the process. Keep reading for the interview.
What are Fox Sessions?
"Fox Sessions are mini photo sessions that last for 30 minutes, and we do about 10 in one day. We travel to different cities and spend a full day shooting the sessions."
And they're boudoir?
"These sessions can be boudoir, they can be maternity, they can be anything you want as long as they are a celebration of you and your wildness, your beauty, your strength. Their focus is on women and feeling beautiful and doing these sessions in honor of how stunning they are or as a celebration of overcoming something in their lives, whether a breakup, or an illness, or being healthy."
Who makes up the team?
"They are professionally shot by me (Rachel ), clothing is styled by Tori from Sitting in a Tree , floral crowns by Rachael of Siren Floral Co. , and hair/makeup professionally done by 10.11 Makeup ."
How did you come up with the idea?
"Each of our friends is unique and at a different stage in their life — 20s, 30s, a mama, blonde, brunette, tattooed or not, etc. — but we all love each other and believe in celebrating confidence and a strong sense of self."
How are Fox Sessions different than traditional boudoir?
"We wanted to pass that on to others and also to remove the stereotype that boudoir is about cheesy lingerie and that even just a hint of skin or certain angles can be just as beautiful. We're re-creating the boudoir experience. It's about taking a minute to pamper yourself and feel beautiful and to celebrate alongside other ladies."
Why are they called Fox Sessions?
"When trying to think of the name, we really wanted something that embraced a bit of wildness. Women are power and beauty and so intimately connected to nature and wildness in the best way possible, and we wanted to include that somehow in the name. I mean, plus, we are all foxes, am I right? So Fox Sessions it was, embracing the wildness inside of us and being the fox that we are."
Why do you think it's so important for women to do this and boudoir sessions in general?
"Women tend to compare themselves to their friends, celebrities, other females, and can be their own toughest critics. This is about highlighting what is beautiful in each of us, and it's really scary, I know, I did one. But it's only scary at first because it's actually very liberating to be vulnerable like that in such a safe place."
What do you love about doing this?
"It's not about being skinny or perfect either. It's about finding what is beautiful in each person and highlighting that. That's my favorite part about shooting these; I get to help a gal discover what it is about them that brings out their beauty. Whether someone's tattoo or birthmark or curve of their hips. And that comes out in the pictures and is incredibly inspiring not only for me as the photographer, but also for the subject and for whomever they are doing this for, whether it be their future selves to look back on, their partners, spouses, whoever."
Which makes it a meaningful gift.
"At the end of the day, a woman's partner or whoever she is doing this for really loves and cherishes those things we critique in ourselves, and it's nice to kind of pause and give this as a gift to a significant other and be reminded of what they find so beautiful."
Why are women so scared to show off their bodies?
"Oh boy, I mean, I know I am. We all have a little insecurity in us, unfortunately I feel like that's part of the human experience. For women, so much of that is tied to our appearance, and it can be devastating, affecting all areas of our life. I've had times in my life where I was paralyzed by how I felt about my body, maybe I sound dramatic but I know a lot of us have been there. The last thing you want to do is run around in a bikini when you are feeling less than perfect. And that's the sad part, perfect."
And it's an impossible goal.
"I've now come to embrace, especially through my experience as a photographer, that so much beauty exists in the imperfection. I love it and I try really hard to embrace it, but it's hard sometimes; I have my good days and bad days. It's scary."
What do you tell women who are nervous about doing something like this?
"I tell them that it's OK to feel nervous, we all do, that's completely normal. But to trust me, and trust our team. We know what we are doing and our goal is to make them feel celebrated and liberated and beautiful. And every woman that has ever done a session like this with us has walked away saying how amazing the experience was. Also, that we'll be laughing the whole time and there will be lots of Champagne."
How do you make your boudoir clients feel comfortable and sexy during the photo session?
"I'm always giving them direction and interacting with them the whole time. I explain to them why I'm posing them a certain way and what it is about them I think is beautiful. No awkward silences and no weird poses. I listen to them if they feel uncomfortable and we adjust what we are doing. I'm really in tune with them during the whole process, I care about all of them deeply. And we dance, a lot, dancing makes everyone relax. It's magic."
What has been the response from women who've had their boudoir photos taken by you?
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive. They have all said things like, this was the best they've felt ever, or one of my gals said she hadn't felt this beautiful since before she had her first child. Everyone says that the session was so fun and so much easier than they expected and that they felt comfortable the whole time."
What was your experience like being in the photos?
"At first, I was scared to death. I'm always the one taking the photos and it's crazy intimidating to suddenly be in front of it. But then as my friends were taking turns shooting me (I handed the camera over to Tori, Rachael, and Erica) and talking about how hot I was and laughing and dancing, I was able to relax and just have fun. It felt more like girl time and I felt beautiful, it was seriously the best time. The best girl time too; I love the ladies in my life — it was girl time at its finest."
What other reasons should ladies try these out?
"This is a great gift for grooms or even for bachelorette parties — drink Champagne, get hair and makeup done, play dress-up, take some pics. We recently all did this together because we wanted to experience what our clients are, and we had an absolute blast. Seriously, the best time spent with your girlfriends."
How do you sign up?
Fox Sessions take place in various cities around the country, with San Francisco up next on June 10 and Chicago on Sept. 24. If you're interested, email email@example.com to book a date.
"One of my faves, eco feminist extraordinaire, Terry Tempest Williams, says, 'To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.'
"Ladies, we are connected to each other, to our partners, our husbands, our sisters, our earth, our moon. We are beauty and we are power, let's celebrate that shall we? Yes. Yes yes yes."