(WARNING: this post has an abundant use of the word “shorts”…sue me, but I warned you.)
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” -Steve Maraboli
Yep, it’s true. I have been wearing shorts as often as possible lately- grocery store, gym, park, etc. I even bought a pair of khaki shorts that I plan to pair with the most adorable chambray shirt I can get my little hands on. Can you believe it??! I am throwing on a pair just about everyday without a care in the world. Ok, so by now you’re probably asking to yourself, “What’s the big deal with the shorts, Jolye?” Well, let me give you the short version (pun intended)
Being from Florida, the daily uniform for most was flip-flops, a tank top & a pair of shorts. Humid, sticky Tampa days almost demanded that you wear light clothing to give relief from nature’s sauna. But, I would ALWAYS wear clothes that covered my body…especially my legs. It could be 99 degrees outside and you could not pay me to trade in my jeans for a cooler option. If I did wear a skirt/dress, I’d have a wonderful pair of the thickest, opaque tights to go underneath them. You see, I have incredibly sensitive skin that bruises if you look at it wrong….I’m mean SERIOUSLY sensitive here. So, that meant the mosquito bites, scrapes and cuts all children encounter left very dark scars on my arms and legs. No child wants to feel different, isolated or get teased. So, I kept my legs covered up. No matter how much my Mama would tell me that I had nice, shapely legs, I could only see the “cheetah spots.”
As a teenager, I tried everything to clear these spots up so I could be “normal.” I tried thick cake make-up, 100% cocoa butter sticks, and even those horrid bleaching creams. Nothing worked. I’d resigned myself to the fact that I would never go publicly swimming or wear anything that would draw attention to my legs. I lived my life with self-inflicted fashion limitations. (petty first-world problems, right?)
Fast forward to the present. Now, I am a photographer who loves capturing the beauty in all women. My profession has taught me so many things about myself. Most importantly, my scars helped to build who I am as a woman- bruised but not broken. I figured out that there are people in the world who had their own self-discovery stories. I read honest posts like this one from different bloggers, such as, Cynthia, from “Simply Cyn.” As a result, I created a boudoir division to my photography business called, “Pretty You.” (My name, Jolye Toi, literally means “pretty you.”) I’ve found that all women have concerns about their bodies. Sometimes, those insecurities can sadly distort their own beauty perceptions. The women I enjoy photographing the most are not professional models…but they are teachers, wives, mothers, dentists, assistants, engineers, lawyers, real estate agents, etc. Each one is more gorgeous than the unrealistic pubescent model images that fill fashion magazines/blogs. Some have children, stretch marks, full hips, thick thighs, bellies…all beautiful in their own right.
It’s weird but I know that I started this division to confirm to myself, “My legs have spots all over them. But they’re mine and I’ve grown to love them because they’re a part of my story. Embrace yourself and rock that pair of shorts!!” Besides, cheetahs are gorgeous creatures. 😉
(Click here to see examples of my boudoir work.)