Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seeing Myself Beautiful Again

All photos in this post are by Saddi Khali of

The Photo-Vangelist, Saddi Khali uses the tagline “let’s see ourselves beautiful again” and I decided to write something from out of that; my experience on the other side of his lens. I have had the pleasure of being immortalized on three occasions by Brother Saddi; the first shoot was alone, next was with my children and the third was during a work related event. I was on a journey prior to meeting him, but our relationship has helped me travel further along the path. 

To see myself beautiful again, insinuates that I originally saw myself in this manner but somehow the view became skewed. I will admit that as I aged, I internalized the outlook of a portion of our society regarding what constituted beauty. One of my biggest obstacles was coming to terms with my weight & size. I actually started gaining weight toward the end of high school, but I was never what one would consider overweight. After giving birth to my first child, I lost a significant amount of weight, so much that some people thought I was ill. Then as the years passed, I gained it back & more. I became, and still am, a plus sized woman.

A change of perspective was needed to become comfortable in/with my body. The turning point came when I began to phase out negative imagery and started to cling to the following scripture: 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
-         ~ Psalms 139: 13-14 (NIV)

“Fearfully & wonderfully made” became my mantra. God doesn’t make mistakes. We are created with great diversity in thoughts, abilities, talents, appearance … including body size & type.  We are all wonderful – amazing, fabulous, stunning, marvelous – and, yes, beautiful.

I was transitioning, stepping out of my comfort zone in some areas and embracing who I was - intellectually, spiritually & physically. Following are excerpts from piece I wrote that embodied this transformation:

Evolution of a Woman
(learning to love myself)

 Loving my whole self comes in different stages
Sometimes I have to re-learn this love
as I develop into a different person.
Right now, I am so in love with my body.
Does that sound vain?
Is it a strange concept?

I am not a small woman,
I have been, in years past –
but I am not at the moment.
is what I have been deemed recently.
is a description that I once balked at,
but am now claiming.

I have stopped looking at myself through glasses
tainted with memories of size 8’s,
stopped wondering what happened
to my true reflection in the mirror,
stopped asking, who is this person staring back at me?

Do you understand how wonderfully
liberating it feels to put on clothes that fit,
not clothes that scream at you
that ask why you are
stretching them to their limits,
just because your mind’s eye tells you
they should grace your body?

Every morning I stare at my face
and think WOW, you are beautiful!
I know that’s the divinity in me, saluting itself.
I constantly drive my fingers through my locs,
even when they are frizzy/fuzzy and un-manicured.
I think WOW, I love my hair, now that I am not
burning it into submission.

Anointing my body with sweet,
sweet oils gives me pleasure –
I love the way my skin feels,
the way my body curves.
I can stay all day,
reveling in the sensations I experience.

So now that I was really feeling myself, I wanted to take some pictures. Not just any pictures, I wanted nudes that were tastefully done and real. I wanted to see myself in all of my glory & power.

Enter Saddi Khali. Somehow, I came across his pictures on FaceBook and then I visited his website. I was in awe of the depth of work I saw. This brother has a gift of making the mundane look special. His philosophy is to help our people heal from the negative imagery of ourselves that we are fed on a daily basis via mainstream media. Saddi focuses on details that I would ordinarily overlook. He shoots everything; men, women, couples, children, families, trees, skylines, subway signs, snow storms on Eastern Parkway … and with every frame I experienced the moment. I purchased a black & white photograph titled "1st Instrument" which moved me in a way that I have difficulty describing – just know that as I sit in my bed typing this, it is hanging on the wall directly in front of me, and it brings to mind fond thoughts of a loved one.

I had been looking for a photographer and now I found him. The next leg of my trek began when I submitted my deposit for the shoot. We corresponded prior to the appointed day so that Saddi could get a feel for me, who I am and why I wanted to do a session with him. I wondered about where we would meet and the whole process – did his subjects usually get “did” in preparation because I don’t do make-up, don’t even color my fingernails.  He explained how he shot using natural light so as long as I had a window, we would be good. He also mentioned that whatever my normal regimen was would be fine; he was capturing me, as I am. That was all cool until he actually came to my house – then shit got real. Was I really going to strip for this stranger? And allow him to take pictures of me?

Well, Saddi writes that he specializes in dealing with his clients’ nervousness and I can attest to this. The brother is just so freaking cool that he puts you at ease. Hooked up the laptop & started the banging playlist.  When he says that he operates under the perspective that you were made in the image of the CREATOR & the CREATOR doesn’t make mistakes, so you have to be beautiful – he’s not joking. That belief oozes from him. His excitement at bringing out your individual beauty is contagious. Nakedness is more than a physical state. I had to open myself to a new state of mind, one that was less inhibited and more able to face unkowns. After a while, I was comfortable and just had fun. As I’m a person who likes structure, I wanted clear directions with regards to posing, etc. while he preferred that I just do my thing – we worked it out in the end. 

Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with my photographs, which were downloaded to my computer before he left my home. No extra stuff, no re-touching … just my raw self. What is most astounding for me is that Saddi gets real up close & personal. In. My. Face. I didn’t realize I had issues with certain things until I saw how he exposed them – like the lines on my forehead, my uneven skin tone or the fleshiness under my chin. But you know what? This is who I am - I’m soft and round and I love it!


  1. I am you, and you are me. Same thought same feeling. Although I was curious about how I would appear in his work, I could of never imaged the impact it had on me. For the first time in a very long time, for 1 hour I didnt feel ashamed or shy about my body; left me with a first and foremost a sense of accomplishment, a lifetime of pride, sensuality and accepting that this is me and I am beautiful just the way I am.

    1. Thank you for passing through & sharing a piece of yourself ... it is always great to hear about other people's experiences that are similar ...

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. I think that while a lot of us are comfortable with our "plus" positions, others around us, for whatever reason, may not be. Folks try to make it sound like everyone that isn't skinny has some lingering health issue.. give me a break. I want to live just one day when someone is not talking about working out or being on a diet! Your perspective on God's creation is right on the money! Can we talk more about G-O-D than G-Y-M??? If I'm fine with me and if you're not, who has the problem??? Folks need to grow up..people change...Thanks Shah for sharing your revelation!!!

    1. :-) Thanks for your comment! I admit, I talk about the gym a lot myself, however my goal is just to be healthy, not more visually appealing.

  3. Beautiful Shahmet!!!! You got undressed, became visible and shared rawness at its core. With that, you added to my journey of shedding and soon I will be naked too.

    1. Thank you! I look forward to seeing what you have to reveal.

  4. lovely. Thank you for writing this