Norfolk Virginia Boudoir Photography » LeZandra Photography - Exclusive Boudoir Photographer In Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News and Beyond

I, like most women, have been taught from a very young age about how I should feel and view my body. From a young age we are taught to smile, look pretty, and be agreeable. We are told to watch our tone and how we dress. We are taught to pick ourselves apart and question whether we are good enough to live up to societies definition of beautiful. We are taught shame.

Tina Fey nailed it when she said “Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”

Growing up, my body was always a source of shame. I spent my youth as a multiracial girl in the south. I was shamed for having a black father, or a white mother. Then came puberty and with it an entirely new set of expectations were placed on me. My tiny frame was replaced by full thighs and I shot up in height. I was larger than everybody else and the thick plastic glasses and frizzy hair were not helping my cause.

I spent my younger years being the object of bullying, only to become an adult and have my body be an object up for discussion. An entirely new set of rules of womanhood have been placed upon me. Society demands my hip to waist ratio be on point, complete with flawless skin and perfect hair. While we get older it seems as though the demands upon us are transformed, with one thing remaining consistent; a sense of shame and expectation underlies everything.

With all of the pressures placed on us, it’s so easy to give in to the demands. I know that I am not alone when I say that far too much time has been spent in front of a mirror picking myself apart. But as I continue to shoot boudoir and get in front of the camera myself, I notice that it happens less and less. I’m not saying that I don’t criticize my body, but I no longer feel shame for existing as I am. I no longer hate my body, because flawed as it may be, it has carried me through so much in life.

The decision to share my boudoir images was not an easy one. It scares the hell out of me. But I cannot begin to express how empowering it is to be who I am and be proud of feeling strong, sexy, and free.

The more I share, the more I feel those shackles of shame falling away. I can exist as I am without fear of how others view me, because the only opinion that truly matters is my own. I don’t share my images to fuel my ego. I share my images with hope that more and more people see that they deserve to feel beautiful even if they don’t fit every check mark that society requires of us. Being beautiful is a decision that YOU make. Don’t let society define that for you.

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  • Gale Paige - Well done LeZandra! You are creating a world where women will love themselves, their sexuality and others better as a result! Thank you for this article and for sharing so much of your greatness with all of us!
    You will INSPIRE many!ReplyCancel

  • Danea Burleson - These are fabulous, you are gorgeous and I totally want to see more!!! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • David Wolanski - These photos and you are all beautiful! Confidence outweighs and particular attribute every damn day anyways. Stop saying mean things to yourself that you would kick someone else’s ass for saying to you! LeZandra is awesome.ReplyCancel

  • Amie Graham Dale - These are amazing and what you wrote rings so true! I want more!ReplyCancel

The term life changing often comes across as cliché. I hate to use it now because this conference was anything but cliché, but the term definitely fits. What I experienced over the weekend was something that has forever altered my course in life. In conjunction with the Stripped Down workshop that I attended the previous weekend (which I will definitely be blogging about), I think it is safe to say that my mind has been blown!

Somer and Katy first told me about their idea to hold a conference for hundreds of women over a year ago. They envisioned a massive gathering of women from all different walks of life coming together to support one another. I don’t think they even knew just how much of a profound impact this conference would have on everybody involved. Thus the Modern Femme Movement was born.

Throughout this past year I have had the pleasure of getting to know these two incredible women. I have watched them balance family, multiple businesses, relationships, and manage it all with great perseverance. They have allowed themselves to be vulnerable and in return, they have encouraged so many other women to do the same.

I’m not normally the person to cry when I am emotional. I shut that shit down. But any time I was around these women, tears just started pouring out. Then they introduced me to the Masterminds. This insanely amazing group of women rocked my world. And more tears came. For the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to open up to strangers. What would normally take years to develop was established in just a few hours. The relationships I gained that day at the Adventure Park have helped me through some dark times this past year.

When Katy and Somer asked me to speak at the conference my first response was “What do I have to offer?”. I do not know what it was that they saw in me, but they never wavered in their support and encouragement. After the loss of a close relationship later that year, I told them that I did not feel like I could go on with the conference. I felt so beat down and I couldn’t imagine speaking when I felt so much turmoil. They refused to let me pull out and I am SO happy that they didn’t. I cannot imagine missing out on such an experience.

As Katy and Somer gave their closing remarks I could not help but break out into full on ugly cry mode. Here stood two women who have gone through so much, fought so hard, and laid it all on the line for the success of this conference. To see everything come together in a way that even I could not have imagined was nothing short of extraordinary. I saw lives forever changed before my eyes, and it was all because of these two women with a dream.

For me, this conference was a rebirth.

I have struggled so much this past year to just get out of bed in the morning. I have hit breaking point after breaking point. When I thought that things couldn’t get worse, they did. I questioned everything about myself. My confidence was destroyed. I felt as though I had broken into a million little pieces and I could not figure out how to pull myself back together. My last year and a half has been filled with death, loss, manipulation, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and a seemingly never ending state of confusion as to who I was and where I was going. It was as though everything I had ever known was gone. I was now stumbling to figure out life while balancing a motherhood, marriage, and a business.

On Friday I spoke about being uniqueness and being authentically you without fear. How could I speak about such a thing when I was in such a state of confusion about myself? My soul had been so completely shaken. It was as though I had known who I was but I wasn’t quite sure if that person could ever be again. I had accepted that this past year and a half was the new normal. This was my life now. I would forever work to climb out of this pit of darkness while the bottom grew deeper and deeper.

Debbie, an incredible write, photographer, mother and fellow mastermind, had pulled me aside that night. She told me that for the first time she saw a woman who was vulnerable and human. It was as though the carefully built exterior that I had erected was slowly cracking. Debbie had taken a class of mine nearly two years ago and she said that I had inspired her to be herself and not care about who was judging her.

Debbie grabbed my arm and asked “Why did you ask us for permission to say fuck? You are LeZandra. You don’t ask for permission. You are the woman who I go to to say fuck. “

And there it was. This was the slap in the face that I needed to show me that I truly had lost touch with myself, and it wasn’t just me that had noticed. Exterior shattered. She saw right through me and although she didn’t do it on purpose, she rocked my world.

That night, I lay there with tears in my eyes, asking my husband what happened. “Where is my spark? Where is my fire? What happened to me?” I pleaded. It was as though a fire burned far away, but clouded in a fog of uncertainty. My spark was so out of reach. My passion was dimmed. My will was gone.

As I continued to work through my thoughts and attempted to make sense of everything that I had experienced earlier that day I realized that things were slowly becoming more clear. For the first time in a log time it was as though the fog was clearing, being fanned away by such a clarity of mind that I had not experienced for so long. I could finally reconnect with and fully experience my thoughts.

I shouted out. “Fuck this. FUCK this! This is NOT my life and I am fucking done!”

I am done just accepting what life is giving me. I have never been the type of person to just wait and see what happens, so why was I doing that? Why was I second guessing my every thought for fear of judgement? Why was I limiting myself, when one of my biggest creeds has always been to constantly challenge myself and push boundaries?

I have always believed that there was nothing that I cannot do as long as my mind can guide me. But my mind had failed me. It held me captive. And for some sick and twisted reason, I had let it.

That ended Friday night.

The next morning, I walked into the conference with my reconnected confidence. I found my spark and I was not going to let it be dimmed. Not by anybody and certainly not by myself.

As I went to each speaker and listened to their stories my confidence was bolstered. I had lunch with my mentor (who has been such an incredible support system and source of inspiration in my life) and I felt so comfortable, where I had once been living in a space of doubt.

I have never experienced the level of unconditional love and support that I received at the Modern Femme conference in my life. I have never been around so many people who believed in me. I have never been so inspired to go out and do great things. I have never been around so many driven and innovative thinkers. I have never felt so proud to be myself.

As I sat there, breaking out into ugly cries, I heard Katy call out my name during closing remarks. She echoed the words of support and love that she has shown me this past year. She encouraged me and accepted me. She gave me love. And then…

Katy gave me my spark.

I was given the Spark Award. In my head, I couldn’t help but make the connection from the night before. Just hours before this I was asking my husband where my spark was. And here she was, handing it to me.

This conference gave me so much. I truly feel like it has given me my life back. I have finally come full circle, back to who I was before all of the loss and pain. But now, I know more than ever that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am doing exactly what I should be doing. I have reconnected with myself and my purpose.

I am forcing every single woman I love to go to this conference next year. You cannot afford not to go. If you have felt any bit of uncertainty, felt overwhelmed, or questioned your purpose, you have to experience this. You will walk into a world of women who are going to pen their arms up to you and show you love. You are going to experience support like you have never experienced before. You are going to leave feeling so incredibly empowered and have your life changed.

I hope to see you there next year.

Rebirth

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  • Ryan - I think of you often and with such reverence. We are all allowed to go through our seasons of change, confusion, and deep personal growth, but I’m glad you’re coming out kicking ass like I remember you. Keep chasing your spark through life!ReplyCancel

  • Gale Warren Paige - Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Denise Birdsong - that was amazing, I wish I cold have been there! you are amazing and i have so much admiration and respect for you. All my loveReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Zimmerman - This is incredible!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Ekaterina Melvin - I wish i went, i am crying reading this myself. There is so much i have gone through and fights I have fought, and life still cannot fully give me what i am trying to achieve. Right now seems like i am in a cage and cannot get out. Its like a never ending circle. But i keep fighting. But there are so many other women who had it so much harder. We just need to keep going and have our dreams illuminating our paths for us.ReplyCancel

I know it sounds cliche, but it feels like moved in yesterday!

Last year I found myself tossing and turning for weeks about a decision that I wasn’t sure I could pull off. When I walked into our old Virginia Beach Boudoir studio to find it flooded it was as though the universe was sending me a sign. I had started looking into a larger studio space a couple of weeks before, but I wasn’t sure if I would actually go through with the decision. I didn’t know it then, but this was the push that I needed.

This past year has been full of ups and downs.

I have learned that so much growth and change happens outside of your comfort zone. It’s okay to take the jump and find your wings on the way down. The fear of failure will push you to be more creative and more diligent. Not everything will work out as you have planned, but it is worth the risk.

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It’s a beautiful thing when you are able to sit back and see all of your hard work wrapped up in one gorgeous little package.

My studio is my sanctuary. It is my happy place. My Downtown Norfolk Boudoir studio is where I feel the strongest, the sexiest, and the most confident. It is here that I can think, create, and dream of where we are headed. Because, my friends, this is just the beginning.

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In celebration of one year in our new space, I am offering 50% off of all boudoir sessions booked until the end of April! This is a pretty huge reduction, but I feel such an occasion permits it.

I hope to see you here! We created so many gorgeous images this past year! I cannot wait to see what the future holds!

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