"You are who you are in this moment, and that incredible woman deserves to be documented." | Duluth Boudoir Interview with Melissa

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How Old Were You At Your Session? A fresh 31!

What made you decide to book a session? I did a model call for Jes way back when she was just about to hit the ground running with boudoir. The the experience then was a blast, I've been watching how Jes, Emily, and now Katie have grown this passion into a full blown community with a very real purpose. I knew that I wanted to have the full blown session experience since they moved into the new studio - I was really just waiting for dates to release last Black Friday.

What was originally holding you back from booking a session? It's definitely difficult to make this kind of financial investment in myself - I'm always thinking of what else I could be spending the money on. But being able to page through my album again in a year, or five or ten years, will truly be an investment. And of course, there was the issue of not loving how I saw myself in the mirror. Would this all really be worth it if I didn't feel great about the way I look?

What were you most nervous about for your session? I work construction outside, so I am pretty constantly covered in bruises, scratches, and really cute tan lines. In fact, I lit my pant leg on fire three weeks before my session and have a huge bright pink scar to show for it. I was worried about that stuff showing up in photos and being not so pretty. Other than that, by the time the morning of my session came, I was ready.

How did you feel about yourself before your session? Like so many women, my body has changed in ways I didn't love as I've gotten older. At 27, I developed super cool eczema and had worse acne than when I was a teenager. At 28, my eye doctor told me I really shouldn't wear contacts anymore. By 29, I had gained weight that I really wasn't comfortable carrying around. When I made it to age 30, I had come to terms with glasses again and gotten my skin under control. I booked my session 9 months out with the plan we're not supposed to make - to lose the weight. To get back to what I thought I was supposed to be. And I tried for quite a while. It was to the point that my social media feeds were all about diets, "motivation" and exercise programs. In all of that clutter, the Mad Chicken group shone through like a light of body positivity. Seeing the photos and reading the words all these beautiful women wrote about their journeys started me on my own. And by the time I turned 31 this year, just a couple weeks before my session, I was finally reaching a pretty good place. I am not the same woman in the same body that I was at 21, and I'm sure I won't be in another 10 years. And that's exactly the way it's supposed to be.

Describe your experience. When I arrived at the studio, I was greeted by a very sweet boy with a precious puppy face. Followed shortly behind by the rest of the team. Emily showed me the personalized closet she had pulled for me based on my questionnaire, and gave me time to try on everything I liked. With pieces decided, Jes came in to complete the outfits with shoes and jewelry. Then Emily worked her magic with a gorgeous, bold makeup look and big enough hair to make my dreams come true. Into the first outfit, and Jes talked me through how the shoot itself would go. You've all seen the videos - she shows you exactly how to pose, down the the last head tilt, to make you look your best. Katie went live during one of my outfits and was the best cheerleader. I still can't believe how quickly those couple of hours flew by. Before I knew it, we were snapping a group Polaroid and I was on my way home to take a much needed nap.

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How did you feel about yourself after your session? Empowered. Beautiful. Pretty tired. But most of all, happy.

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Were you nervous before your viewing session? Not at all. I was just so excited.

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How did you feel about yourself after seeing your photos? Even more empowered. Even more beautiful. And downright sexy.

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What were your favorite products? I loved the collections that have all of my favorite products. The albums are gorgeous, and the viewmaster and polaroids are the most fun little gifts for my other half.

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What would you tell anyone interested, but maybe hesitant, in booking a session of their own? The same thing everyone will tell you. Just do it. Don't wait until... whatever you're waiting for. You are who you are in this moment, and that incredible woman deserves to be documented.

How was working with Jes, Emily, and Katie? Want to compliment Jes, Emily, and Katie on the level of perfection they've reached with this process. The thoroughness of information and communication is amazing. Every system from the booking through selecting my images after my viewing has been streamlined and simple. They really have left no stone unturned to make this the ultimate treat yo'self experience. They have also all perfected their crafts. There is no shortage of natural talent in this studio. But these are also women who give their all into what they do. Into continuing their education, into being active members of our community, and into building a world where women love and respect each other the way we deserve.

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Will you be doing another session? YES.

Anything else you want to add? I just want to say thank you. To Jes, Emily, and Katie for the experience. And to the group of women who will someday read this and lift me up all over again.