Every woman has that inner longing to be seen, and to be able to express themselves without inhibitions or a care in the world. This is where The Boudoir Dolls (remember Coleen's sophisticatedly sensual photos she wanted to do for herself, and also to help others "like" themselves? Yep, that's them behind the lens!) step in but don’t take their name for it. While they’re pretty like dolls, their beauty goes deeper as a group of women embracing their craft to help empower other women.
Meet The Boudoir Dolls Shayla Shanchez, Madoka Kashiwazaki, and Arlene Briones-Hidalgo.
Baring yourself through Boudoir
Have you ever seen photos where you thought they’re sexy but not racy, revealing but not over the top? For The Boudoir Dolls, “Boudoir photography means intimate photography. Why? Well apart from the obvious pun that we shoot you in your intimates, we'd also like to think that we get to see the more quiet and intimate side of a woman. The part where she strips down not only to bare her skin but also to bare her own soul.”
This type of photography or art form may be rare and unheard of in the earlier years but to this day, more women have caught up and opened themselves up to the idea. “As far as we know, we were the first to introduce this in the wedding industry… we got to share our ideas with our brides and a lot of them were hesitant at first but eventually the idea warmed up to them and we got more and more brides to do this for themselves as well as their husbands-to-be. Eventually we also got clients who were single and wanted to do something for themselves, we've had women in their 20's, 30's and even 40's who wanted to do this with their closest girl friends as a bonding experience,” says The Boudoir Dolls.
And while there are people who appreciate this craft, there are also those who frown upon it. For The Boudoir Dolls though, they would rather turn this into a more positive experience. “We don't spend our time sitting around talking about what others say or think about us, we just move and keep doing what we do, figuring things out along the way and putting our heads together so we can make the boudoir experience even more unique and personal and somehow, that's worked out for us and we haven't looked back since. When we do, it's to take notice of how far we've come and how challenging and yet empowering and fulfilling this whole journey has been for all of us.”
Meet The Boudoir Dolls Madoka Kashiwazaki, Shayla Shanchez, and Arlene Briones-Hidalgo.
Rebirth, unfolding of a flower
"I am not a model and I don't really know how to pose." That’s what The Boudoir Dolls usually hear from the women they shoot. “They always come in nervous—we have yet to see a client who is completely confident and comfortable… but you would not believe it, at the end of each shoot, each and every one of them has walked out of our session feeling more sure and more confident about themselves. Each and every time! And it's magical for us! To be given this opportunity to see a woman slowly 'unfold' before you like a flower, to slowly reveal herself and be comfortable in who she is, it's so beautiful to capture... even more beautiful to watch.”
One of their fondest, most profound and powerful stories is that of a woman who had cancer. They share, “Her name was Boom. Was. She is no longer with us but her story is one that goes beyond the reference of time and space. She did the shoot with us and (even as I type this, I'm getting goosebumps)... at first we were all nervous… but it eventually felt like a dance you know? Later on, she just trusted herself more and posed for us in ways that was very natural and very powerful at the same time. To be able to see a woman bare that vulnerable side of her really touched us. We felt really honored to be able to witness and capture that. There was even a part where she was crying while we were shooting her, and we cried too. It was a feeling we couldn't even explain at that time. It was like we felt her joy and sorrow at the same time.”
Actress Coleen Garcia for a Valentine Boudoir shoot.
You are enough
Probably one of the advocacies of Boudoir photography is to make every woman realize that you are enough. Despite your challenges, physical or otherwise, there’s something liberating about submitting yourself to this experience. Here are a few more things The Boudoir Dolls wants to remind you of:
"You are not unique in your experience of insecurities and the like. We understand you completely because we go through the same struggles."
"The struggles come daily. But we've also found ways to not be pounded down by these insecurities."
"Do keep close relations with other women warriors. They’d inspire us to keep pushing forward in this crazy, beautiful world."
"A shoot with us has also been a form of rebirth, with the realization that you are unique and that you are beautiful and that you are NOT inadequate.
"Be brave enough to step out into the beautiful light."
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Photographs taken from The Boudoir Dolls official Facebook page and instagram.com/theboudoirdolls.