Embracing Imperfection | The Refined Collective

This post is in collaboration with The Refined Collective Series. Be sure and check out the other ladies in this wonderful group: The Refined WomanJulien GarmanBrynna WatkinsJackie Viramontez,  Lauren ScruggsRebecca Hajek and Erica Chen.


Image by Katherine Harris

Image by Katherine Harris

A few years ago, when I was rebranding Boudoir by Tutti to properly define its core values, one of the most intentional decisions I made was to eliminate the word imperfection from my vocabulary. Women would reach out to me, interested in booking a boudoir shoot with the caveat that I retouch their imperfections and then they'd list them off for me. Early in my business, I basically did whatever my clients wanted me to do. If they wanted me to get edit wrinkles, lines, skin, dimples, scars, acne, moles or any other skin feature, I'd simply do it, no questions asked. This resulted in pictures I can barely look at now without cringing. They're so over-edited and fake that I can barely stand it! Not just for the amateur aesthetic they display, but because they don't represent the woman I remember meeting and photographing that day. They don't showcase the way she made me feel or the essence of her being. Did I do a disservice to her by airbrushing her skin and erasing the marks that make her, her? The answer is yes and no. In booking a shoot, going through the experience and seeing pictures of themselves that reflect a wonderful version of themselves, these women felt joyous and beautiful. I can't discount the power of that. On the other hand, they continued on with their lives perhaps believing that what makes those pictures beautiful is the fact that those features were erased from existence, and that's certainly counts as a disservice.

I've expanded and refined my vision for women in the past seven years in a way that serves both my values and my vision for women. I'm confident we can move toward being women who not only embrace the skin we're in but also stand in the power that comes with that truth. In practical terms, what this means is refusing to use destructive words such as imperfections to refer to natural features of our physical body, embracing the features we have difficulty accepting as well as celebrating the ones we adore, being tender and loving to our bodies through wellness and continuing to fight for authenticity in relationships, interactions and media's representation of women. 

During a recent interview, I asked a woman to describe a visualization exercise where she pictured her future self. In her mind, the picture she saw, albeit a physical representation of herself, represented her actual spirit - her essence - her soul. She referenced how her children see her, how no matter what she's wearing, how congested or sick she might feel, how tired or unattractive she might appear on any given day, her children still run to her for love and comfort. They see her essence. She is enough. She is beautiful. She is worthy. It painted such a warm image in my mind about how simple this all really is. You and I don't carry imperfections - we are exactly how we are supposed to be. 

We are enough.

We are beautiful.

We are worthy. 

What if we approached our perception of ourselves in the same way children do - with carefree and joyous abandon? When there's nothing standing in our way, joy erupts. When we flip our need for our physical bodies to speak to how we feel inside and instead allow our beautiful essences to coat our physicality, we will feel worthy, seen and beautiful. Always. 

As your peer and friend, I admit this isn't the attitude I wake up with daily. It takes practice, community and tools to peel back layers of yucky residue. One of my favorite ways to center myself and feel my spirit is by using affirmations during meditation. With eyes closed, a serene environment and breath connection, I find these repeated phrases helpful in reminding me how much beauty and love rests inside me. Take yourself through your favorite meditation and use any of these powerful words to bring clarity to your own spirit and essence.

May I be filled with loving-kindness.

May I be well.

May I be peaceful and at ease.

May I be happy.

May I be appreciative and thankful.

May I be blessed with pure love and light.

May I be joyful. May I be now smiling.

May I be larger to cultivate more loving kindness.

May I be healthy.

May I live with ease.

May I be blessed.

May YOU feel ease and peace, my darlings, and may you know there are no such things as imperfections.

With love,
Tutti

// C R E D I T S //

The Refined Woman Collective
Loving kindness affirmations

 

LIVING SEXY IS... Loving Yourself

I apologize in advance for all the noise and interruptions - but it was our only chance to get this interview done before Jessie’s big trip out west. I hope you enjoy it regardless :)

Sometimes life is unfair. This is one of those cases. Not even a full year has passed since I met this beautiful soul, and she is literally driving across the country as we speak to set up roots in California. 

The power of our minds is an undeniable force. It gives me the ability to write that first paragraph and immediately see the negative spin I gave it. So I’ll try once again.

Life is truly full of blessings. Not even a year ago I met Jessie, a gorgeous woman who has a giving soul, a joyful spirit and an infectious smile - and though it has been short, my life has been blessed by knowing her. 

That’s much better!

boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper

Jessie is a successful entrepreneur, with her very own style blog/ brand - Style & Pepper, business coaching services and even a hilarious podcast - which she hosts with her adorable and sweet hubby Gerard, called Marriage is Funny. But what separates her from the rest is her heart. Through her big blue eyes, you can see a heart that loves to give, a heart that loves to share, a heart that is both tender and strong and a heart that loves. 

I have to admit I totally “tricked” Jessie into participating in this feature. Well, maybe the word “tricked” is a bit of a stretch, but let’s just say Jessie and Gerard thought they were only meeting us for goodbye drinks, and then I said, “Guess what!? I brought my camera and microphone! We’re doing a shoot and you’re going to be on my blog. So start thinking of what you think living sexy is.” To which she answered, “Here? Ok, let’s order a drink and then do it."

boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper
boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper

Done. Simple as that. That’s one of the things I love about Jessie (and a lot of my friends for that matter). They’re always up for my shenanigans. And Jessie is no different.

I suggested we meet at one of Soho’s cutest hidden bars, Freeman’s Restaurant, because it’s tucked into a tiny alley and its decor and facade are a photographer’s dream - tea lights, hues of blue, art murals and soft natural light.

boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper
boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper
boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper

It took us about 10 minutes to take these pictures and shoot this video, and then another five minutes to record the [interrupted] interview. I mention this because it gives you a feel for what “Living Sexy” means. It’s not posed, it’s not staged, it’s a lifestyle. It’s just as much the moments when you're getting ready as they are the moments when you ARE ready - and everything in between.

When I put Jessie on the spot and asked what her idea of living sexy is, she said it’s “loving yourself.” There’s so much to unpack in that statement, because loving yourself also means forgiving yourself, it means giving yourself permission and it means being ok with not having it all together all the time. In day-to-day situations, it would be fantastic if we could all love ourselves fully in order to act from a place of groundedness and love. But boy is that easier said than done. Throw into that the desire to look and feel great and you’ve set yourself up for a doozy of a challenge. 

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"We have these parts about us that maybe we don’t like, or maybe don’t match up to what they’re supposed to be, and i think the natural reaction is to not like that part of ourselves - or to want to change it - and i think the change can only come when you can acknowledge it and embrace it. 

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boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper

Thanks to my interview with Jessie, I think I finally figured one of life’s secrets. Loving yourself is about recognizing the things you love - and doing them. But it’s also about noticing what you need in order to feel loved - and asking for them. 

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"Loving yourself is kinda an interesting concept because it could sound selfish or it could sound vain in many cases, and it’s something that I think people are fairly uncomfortable with… but by giving yourself permission to love yourself can really allow you to release so many other parts of your life that are preventing you from feeling a certain way."

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This idea of self-care is a practice all of us can and should do. Just like cars can’t run on empty tanks, a person cannot spread pure love without already having it in his/her heart. It all starts with self-love. Take this as an opportunity to love yourself first so you may begin giving, doing and being with love. 

boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper

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It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving. 

- Mother Teresa - the queen of love and giving

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Here are a few more pictures we were able to get of the whole gang! Pictured are Jessie's husband, Gerard, and her brother, Joey. Their smiles suffice in making my day brighter. I'm even throwing in some with yours truly, as this was a special afternoon. 

boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper
boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper
boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper
boudoir.photography.nyc.tuttidelmonte.jessie.styleandpepper

Much love to you three, and THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for sharing this chapter of your lives with me/ us. I love you dearly.

Tutti

 

Here's the video!