It’s difficult changing jobs, and it’s especially difficult moving cities. What makes this even harder, however, is facing all of this alongside the challenges of being a transgender woman. A year ago, this is what Paula was dealing with.
After spending 45 years, ‘forcibly denying’ her identity, Paula started a programme of hormones. This was the first step to changing the body she felt trapped within – the goal being to have a body that matched with how she truly saw herself. Although this helped her move one step towards where she wanted to be, the move to Bristol shook Paula – struggling to feel as supported or as confident as she used to in Birmingham.
This is where Divine Divas came in. We could tell you about it ourselves – about how Paula lit up the studio, how she laughed with every person she came into contact with, or about what she said and how she teared up when saw the boudoir photos… but we have a better idea. Paula can tell you herself.
What motivated you to book a boudoir session?
A: Two things really. I needed to reboot my self-confidence, which had hit a bit of a low following my move to Bristol with work and I was also having a few difficulties in settling in, as well as feeling validated in who I am. I may not yet be the ‘complete’ version of me, but I am close as I can be at the moment. I feel incredibly feminine, I love who I have become and who I am becoming, but I really needed that validation and self-assurance…. And you gave me that.
What inspired you to get in touch and book?
A: I phoned up, initially curious, but then when I spoke with Jo I literally ‘lit up’ inside and thought ‘yep, this is so right for me’! I was excited from the start.
How did you feel before the Divine Divas session?
A: Bonkers excited, couldn’t wait. I knew I’d be getting one of the pictures done for my then boyfriend so I had ordered a new lacy black basque, planned all my outfits and changes, selected some sexy stockings (not the everyday ones I wear to work, very sexy seamed ones) and I just couldn’t wait to get there.
How did you feel when you arrived at the studio?
A: Fabulous, I wasn’t at all nervous and joked with Harriett when she asked if I wanted some bubbly to calm my nerves – 9:30am on a Saturday morning, that’s ‘cup of tea’ time in my book!!
What was the makeover like?
A: The makeover was great, Harriett worked wonders. I’d gotten so used to just my everyday make-up, which is fairly plain and ordinary, that when I looked at the full picture when Harriett had finished I just thought ‘wow’. She really got that exotic look just right!
What was the boudoir photo-shoot like?
A: Just the best. Emilie is a true magician, simple as that – if it wasn’t for her, these pictures would have been nothing!! Emilie and I were perfectly comfortable with each other, she taught me how to ‘pop’, and we went with a very natural flow. She is genuinely an absolute genius – angles, lighting, all perfect!
How did you feel when you came back for the viewing?
A: Nervous if I am honest, I really didn’t think I’d have much to choose from. Emilie alluded to the fact that the pictures looked great, but I was kind of thinking that she would say that!! She wasn’t wrong though!!
How did you feel when you saw your boudoir shots?
A: Speechless, emotional, in absolute awe of what I was seeing in front of me. I started crying, I could never have believed in all my years that I could ever be captured looking as good as I did. As I said, Emilie is simply amazing. The trouble was that I had to then pick a selection, that was really hard, but again, it’s a testament to what both Harriett and Emilie had achieved.
If you have your portraits already, how does it feel looking at them now?
A: It’s hard to describe, it’s akin to living my life as I am today. As a Trans Woman going about her business every day, I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe it’s real, and this is how I feel about my images. It’s often hard to believe that it is actually me!!
Do you feel any different about yourself since having your boudoir shoot?
A: Definitely, my confidence soared, I was back to being me, I rediscovered my ‘strut’ as my old colleagues used to put it!!
What would you say to other women considering a boudoir session?
A: Just do it! You will never, ever regret doing this – it’s not about the perfect body, sexy lingerie, or impressing anyone, it is all about you. Be the ‘you’ that you want to express; that can be your boyfriend’s baggy shirt and an acoustic guitar, or a burlesque glamour queen clambering over a blood-red bed. It can be cheeky, funny, sexy, haunting, debauched, but just do it for you.
Paula is not a body – she is a woman who is loved by friends and family, a talented musician, a successful businesswoman, a fan of motorbikes and a kickass with a love for mixed martial arts. However, that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t love or feel empowered by her body.
The boudoir shots allowed her to truly see herself as a woman, with gorgeous curves and a gentle femininity, but she always has, and always will be, beautiful. She’s even since appeared in Diva Magazine talking about her boudoir experience! We feel so massively happy in having helped her in her journey and we’d love nothing more, no matter the story, to help another women understand the difference it can make, and the things you can do, when you embrace who you are.