My name is Michelle, I just recently turned 28 years old and I was born & raised in the small town of Granite Falls, Minnesota. Growing up, I was definitely the tom boy of the family. I participated in a number of sports including: danceline, softball, taekwondo in my adolescence, volleyball leagues in my adulthood and have developed a love of weight lifting over the past few years. I have also been a carpenter in the US Army Reserves since December of 2011. So, you could say I have my rare share of “girly” days.
Being in the military is by far the proudest decision I have made in my life. However, it has also added stress to my body image issues and because of that I have struggled with many eating disorders since joining. I am constantly told, reminded and punished if I am not under under a certain number on the scale and that has taken a tole on my mental health over the years.
I first came across Sugar and Spice Photography while I was scrolling through Groupon back in 2015. I was in preparation for my first deployment overseas and thought I would treat myself one last time before being in uniform for 11 months. I called the studio and set up a Bella Luce half day shoot for a month before I shipped out.
I have struggled with my body weight every since I was a little girl. I have had low self-esteem, never have I felt confident in my own skin and so putting myself in this vulnerable situation, wearing minimal clothing and being photographed, definitely had me feeling insecure.
These wonderful women did not let that fear remain in my head for very long.
Nerves were sinking in the morning I showed up at the studio but I was welcomed by the nicest women in the most sincere ways. They were gleaming, spoke of how beautiful I was and told me how excited they all were that they got to shoot me that day.
My first photoshoot at this studio was nothing shy of an incredible experience. I was amazed when I first stepped in front of the mirror after getting my hair and make-up done. The nerves still remained during the first few poses as I questioned in my head how certain areas of my body must look in those positions.
Hearing the girls’ excitement when they saw each image show up on the screen definitely helped boost my confidence. Throughout the shoot, there was a number of times they would turn the monitor so I could see for myself.
I couldn't believe my eyes. That was me in the pictures and I was so beautiful! I have never felt so alive in my life. I have never loved myself more than I did in those moments.
Leaving the studio that day had me feeling like a confident new woman.
I have been back in the studio 3 more times since that first day, and I can assure you there will never be a last. Every time I see these women they feel like family. I encourage anyone and everyone that is debating a session to take that leap, be vulnerable, try something new. I promise you won’t regret it.