” Will I do what ? A fashion show? …On a catwalk ? “

A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of stress and anxiety. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.

It’s much easier to remain within the boundaries of where you feel more comfortable than it is to consider facing the fear of venturing beyond. But by limiting yourself to what you already know, you’re likely missing out on opportunities, life experiences, and personal growth.

This phrase is one I’ve heard over and over again in my time as nurse and also into my new career as a photographer and let’s face it if you look at it as a journey then if you take the same route to work or school each day you will more than likely see the same things, but if you change that route you open yourself up to the possibility of seeing different things.

” Risk!!!!!!!!  ”  I hear you say ? I’d much rather stay here:

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So as usual here at JKP I like to set a challenge and this time I had a partner in crime in Debbie from Chequers Boutique, a super lovely lady who owns and manages a local Occasion Wear Boutique specialising in Mother of the Bride and Groom elegant togs.

Debbie

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Having spoken to Debbie about how ladies perceive themselves and how wonderfully I observed her managing each and every ladies wishes when they enter her shop;  I decided to explore things a little further.

Born in Cleethorpes and always having a passion for fashion, Debbie talked to me about her business and her own thoughts on body image and comfort zones.

“I can’t tell you the pleasure it gives me to when a customer comes in looking for something special, not really knowing what they want, often unsure of what will suit their body shape and then finding it for them. ” 

Since working in the retail trade for a number of years she told me that when buying in outfits it became very apparent that the fashion industry often doesn’t portray the average lady. Mannequins are size 8 or 10 and sample sizes and brochure models are tiny and there’s no variation in body shapes and sizes portrayed. so when looking to buy for her customers it becomes problematic. The fashion industry although making some headway often still doesn’t portray the average lady.

” I suppose my body image is often put to one side in helping ladies find their perfection. We all have our own beauty, sometimes we just need to have that reflected, and whether that’s in the boutique mirror or through conversations with each other, the end result is always one of confidence and smiles.” 

Our discussions around perfection are always interesting and often personal too.

“My perception of beauty has altered along the way in my journey with the boutique. Having had my own health issues, made a difference to my life and what once seemed to be eternal hangups has grown and changed into feelings of acceptance.”

Debbie’s own thoughts around body image are probably much reflected in some of the words of the ladies we’ve met along the way. What seems to come from organising and producing fashion shows and working together on projects is that common ground is found between us all and a fantastic team of like minded ladies is celebrated.

Perfections / Imperfections? 

How do we define imperfections so easily yet fail to define what perfect actually means?

The question is an interesting one and whether there’s an answer is probably down to personal feelings and interpretation, but what we did decide is that there should be a way of showcasing the average lady, the lady who shops in the boutique, the mum, the wife, the grandma, the professional, the artist and the lady who stays in her comfort zone because it’s the easiest thing to do.

Stepping out of their comfort zone hitting the catwalk, enjoying a photoshoot opportunity and most importantly happy to share their thoughts …the ladies:

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Sandy

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I met Sandy at a Wedding I recently covered. A beautiful lady, classy, immaculate in her dress sense, and a lady who on first impressions is the lady that I would look at and say  “I wish I looked like her” …..why do we do that ?

We never say “she is as beautiful as me”  

” When I was first asked to do the catwalk by Janey I said yes but changed my mind at least 3 times. I was a nervous wreck but I wanted to do it for me. I struggle with my confidence, always have when I was slim and young and even worse now Im middle aged and gained weight. I always put myself down. So I was determined I would do this. Do you know what…? I loved it..Janey and the rest of the lovely ladies gave me the boost I needed. I walked on the catwalk with my head held high and enjoyed it. I felt happy and felt attractive. Janey is amazing at making you feel at ease. We all had a fun day. I’m so pleased I did it. All you ladies with no confidence like me should give it a go push yourselves to do it. You wont regret it x “

Vanessa 

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This lovely lady is a customer of Debbies, and an absolute gem of a lady, never have I seen such moves on a catwalk!

” I wanted to do the fashion show as I’m more confident in my 50’s than I have ever been . I know I’m quite pretty but as far as standing in front of strangers I wouldn’t have done this in my 20-30’s .. I’m loud but that’s to cover my shyness really … I know its contradictory but I hide behind the brash lady .. I moved to the area 2 years ago  and didnt know anyone so when your friends say you are beautiful and a strong lady you just think they are being nice .. but putting myself forward to do the show with strangers made me believe that I am that strong person … so thanks for that. You and Debbie made me feel like a friend straight away from meeting Debbie in the shop, you Janey and then everyone on the show day were so friendly …. so pushing myself  to do this was great …xxx “

Julie 

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Now anybody paying any degree of attention to my musing will probably recognise Julie from a couple of other places. Perfection is Perception ‘Photography and My Looking Glass Self’ and Celebrating women with beautiful hearts, and rebellious souls. ‘A Family Affair’ Emotionally scarred for life since this lady bounded into my life, Julie is everything you would describe as a bundle of fun. I’ve laughed like a drain since our first meeting and I’ve not stopped since.

” Ok, so I’ve stopped smoking which in itself is a massive achievement, but and it’s also a big fat ‘butt’ … I have gained more pounds than several kilos of lard. So the term lard arse comes to mind when I look at myself. I find fault in all of my body, face,and features. The few redeeming qualities are laughter, love and friendship to which I am truly blessed.  So when I look at my picture I see the me that I don’t like but then remember how I got to this picture in the first place, friendship and the love of a group of people that I had never met who actually are a lot like me. Lovely ladies and of course the guys who joined us the day of our shoot.” 

Katrina 

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I met Katrina at a fashion show this year and asked her to join us on this one. Katrina is the word ‘elegance’, she’s a beautiful lady inside and out and a wonderful soul.

” The last 14 years of my life have been both the best and the worst years of my life ! Back in 2004 my mum watched a programme about adoption and after calling the number at the end of the show it lead to finding her birth mother and my maternal grandmother which was a miracle as she was 88 yrs of age and had terminal ovarian cancer. Our lives changed in such a profound way, meeting this amazing woman who suddenly had a reason to fight on and she lived for another six years. 

Within six months of meeting her mum my mum suffered a heart attack. She survived but was never the same, this was the second cruel blow and my mum had breast cancer when she was 38, I was only 14 at the time and she was given a year to live, she was a single parent. My mums a tough cookie and beat that one but her heart condition was serious.

In 2005 I met Nick, the love of my life, we married two years later and he has been my rock , for the first time I felt grounded and secure. But in 2010, I was  diagnosed with breast cancer. I guess I must have inherited my mum and nans toughness because I wasn’t going to let it beat me, and so far so good!  I live my life to the full whilst supporting and looking after everyone else. It takes its toll on your life, your marriage and your mental state.

Nan, mum and my stepdad who then was developing severe dementia all lived in a tiny two bed flat but for a long time they were happy .

As time passed they all deteriorated , my Nan went into a home, she died a few weeks later, the cancer finally beat her. Mum passed away two years ago. I don’t have any brothers, sisters or my own children. So as much as my life is full of really good times and enriching moments and I’m still very happy with a man I love very much, my life often feels empty and sad. 

” The last things my mum said to me are ‘ live your life to the full now, you’ve had a lot of difficult stuff to deal with so get out there , move on , put the past behind you, work less, enjoy life to the full, it’s very short and it goes very quickly! “

So doing things like the fashion show with my hubby was great fun for me. I’ve also suffered with body dysmorphia most of my life so it’s easy going to do things but hard to look back at images of the things I have done as I’m always so critical.” xxx

Steph

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I met Steph a few years ago when she came for a photoshoot. Steph the tall, slim lady who had never modelled , but has since gone on to work with many on photoshoots. This lady is crackingly quirky with a heart of gold and if I didn’t feel small enough she always leaves me feeling like a Borrower when we’ve worked together.

” I have done a few shoots with Janey Kay over the years, starting with a boudoir shoot to boost my confidence. Janey is a constant support to me with body confidence issues so when she asked me to do the catwalk I jumped at the chance to help her out.  Pushing through confidence boundaries helps me deal with my body image and the group of wonderful women involved has given me an enormous boost.  I can’t thank them all enough xx’

Vonnie

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Wow what a lady! I met Vonnie through Steph her daughter. I had often admired Vonnie and her bravery with the body painting that she takes part in. This you would think must mean confidence right ?

” Well where do I start? I met Janey through my daughter originally. She had very little confidence and Janey did so much to help her so when I got the chance to work with her I took it.  I am a  strong person but being strong doesn’t mean being confident, I have always had little confidence. Always beating myself up because I wasn’t good enough at something,  messed something up, looked wrong,  too fat,  too old, too flabby,  so when I was offered the catwalk I had never met ANY of these ladies before so was very nervous but Janey is so warm and welcoming she  put us at ease and I had a great time. Feel the fear and do it anyway xx” 

Sophie 

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The ever delightful Sophie who describes herself as tall and gangly and I describe her as an elegant English rose with a beautiful mane of hair to die for!

” I first met Janey when I responded to a advert for a photoshoot, when I was just trying to start modelling myself. In amongst the giggling, I think we both learnt a lot on that shoot!  I actually got some photos that made me admit I actually looked OK! Having been bullied repeatedly throughout school, often for the way I looked (we’re talking tall, gangly, glasses wearing and a bit geeky), and it having taken until I was in my twenties to realise I still had huge self esteem issues which were holding me back in several areas of my life, I was in need of a confidence boost, and I got one. I’ve since gone on to do more photoshoots and catwalks with the lovely Janey, and while I would never say I’m as confident as I could or should be (still working on that!), my self esteem is better than it ever was. Plus, working in a rather unglamorous profession in the NHS means it’s lovely to get dressed up and feel feminine once in a while, and there is such camaraderie behind the scenes at a fashion show; in a society where we (especially women) are very quick to put ourselves and others down, and to do so very easily, it restores your faith to be among ladies who do nothing but boost each other up. So I will always be grateful to Janey for letting me be her first model “guinea pig” , and for introducing me to some other lovely ladies along the way.” xxx

Kate 

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Not only did we have Steph and Vonnie as a Mother and Daughter team, but Kate is mum to Sophie, so this really was a family affair! I had the pleasure of meeting Kate recently at Debbie’s Boutique and we found we had something in common around a chronic health issue. It’s often strange the way we bond with others, but I wouldn’t put this just down to health, this lady has a wicked sense of humour!

” My daughter Sophie roped me in! It was a terrifying prospect for me, and I took some convincing, but in the end I thought, “What the hell”, and went for it. I’m so glad I did. After two knee replacements and several bouts of serious illness I had lost my confidence and so needed a bit of a lift. It was a fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to do it again. It was a lot of fun, and I met some lovely ladies. Kate x “

Maggie

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My dearest Maggie, we met through a Boudoir session, and we haven’t looked back. Maggie is kindhearted, supportive and always there for you. Maggie is the lady who if you needed her would be there in a heartbeat.

” My first meeting with Janey, was for some Boudoir shots as a present for my now ex husband after 30 years of marriage.. by the time my photoshoot finished , they were & I know now, actually for me to feel good about myself.

Often in our everyday lives you forget that you are a real person & often lose who you are…

“Meeting Janey gave me back my confidence to get out there & step out of a comfort zone.. to find who I am .. back then a not so confident person , on the eve of so much change. I am now a strong woman who has dealt with so much in the last few years but my journey enabled me to meet other women fighting with so much more in life. Some with life threatening illness & against the odds these ladies have been given a 2nd chance through photography,  I’ve just had some photographs done again. For me this time , as I move into my new phase of life I want to inspire other ladies that if you follow your dreams you can do & be who you want to be. I am also going to be a nana in February !.. I wanted to show no matter what your age you just need is to believe in you , & never give in as we are all beautiful from inside out. I’ve learned a simple smile-can light up someone’s life. The finale of this journey was the fashion show with such inspiring & stunning women , not models but everyday ladies who took an opportunity to help other friends. Most of us had never even met before this event , but we all worked so well together .. we all enjoyed the chance to shine. “

Rach 

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Rachel is a fantastic lady who I met when I first started out in the photography world when I did some shots of her singing. This lady is a petite package of loveliness, who I’m honoured to call a friend.

” My confidence was rock bottom After being in am difficult marriage for over 16 years. I had suffered both emotionally and physically during this time. Janey suggested I come for some photographs and I was flattered to say the least but at the same time quietly terrified. However, I decided to go ahead … in my early years I was a singer performer on stage but that all stopped when I was married.  Janey captured some amazing photography of me musically and it helped me gain the confidence after my divorce to go out and gain a degree within creative music and production! This time 7 years ago I could only of dreamt of this … going on from this I achieved the catwalk which was amazing. I met some wonderful ladies … Janey is a truly inspirational lady and has a  talent for capturing the natural women with her excellent photography and also helping all different kinds of ladies with the confidence that they truly deserve … if you are that person lacking in confidence I would highly recommend either a photo shoot or a catwalk or both ! It has helped me so much and I thank you for that  x ” 

Nikki

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Well what can I say about Nikki? Having met Nikki and her wonderful husband Rik when they asked me to capture their Wedding Day, I can honestly say I met a friend for life. This lady has me in stitches everytime we meet. She is genuine, kind, no frills attached and what I love about Nikki is her ability to see the fun in everything she does.

” Two years ago I was looking for a wedding photographer and after looking long and hard I found Janey through social media and loved her work. Upon her coming to meet me and my now husband we found a new friend, Jane gifted a boudoir session as part of our Wedding package as I was to have breast surgery I was so nervous but loved the experience and photos showed me how I looked to other people. It boosted my confidence no end so later on Jane asked me if I would help in a fashion show with Chequers Boutique for Breast Cancer Awareness in Cleethorpes. I did it to my amazement and liked the experience although very nervous. I got to meet Debbie and her lovely daughter Chelsee from and model her beautiful clothes. So when I was asked again to do a fashion show for Janey and Chequers Boutique I said yes again. I loved it even more this time as I met some awesome ladies and gentlemen we had so much fun and it was a pleasure to meet some new friends. It was a brilliant day and I smile when I think of the day and still can’t believe I did it and all this is down to an amazing lady who boosted my confidence and I have the pleasure in calling her my friend xxx “

Kaylee F9

I met Kaylee through her mum Debbie. Kaylee is an absolute beauty, intelligent, focussed and she has a winning smile that must melt hearts regularly.

” So I may come across as being somewhat biased in what I am writing about my recent experience, as my mum (Debbie from Chequers Boutique) has a very close link to the fashion shows and her lovely friend is Janey however; I would like to say firstly that modelling and allowing photos to be taken of me when feeling under pressure or in any limelight is not what I or many of the other ladies find easy in anyway shape or form. Instantly from the off with getting to grips with the schedule, routines and planning it is clear that the show itself and theme of the experience isn’t the most crucial part to Janey but what is in fact made clear is that what is most important is what can be taken from it and improved on for each of the ladies individually – confidence, pleasure and most importantly FUN! That is certainly what I can take from my experience it boosted my confidence and helped me let loose when saying the big ‘cheese’ and I walked away being intrigued to see what the photographs would look like, that in itself is a major challenge conquered thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. “

Chelsee 

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We cannot forget the ladies that support all of this happening of course, and all who do it for their own reasons. Firstly Chelsee, without her commitment on these and kind heart, we couldn’t achieve these events. You will find Chelsea behind the scenes, running around, dressing and undressing, organising and generally keep things going with her mum. she’s a super support to her mum and credit to the boutique.

” I like working behind the scenes because I love getting the ladies ready and seeing their faces when there all dressed up and having a laugh. These events and photoshoots we do makes me proud to be in the job I am in. The ladies make it all worthwhile and you can never have a bad day when your working with this wonderful bunch. It’s lovely  working with mum (Debbie) helping her pick the styles of dresses to suit everyone’s dream Mother of the Bride or Groom dress..”

Vikki

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I met Vikki for the first time on show day after the lovely Rachel introduced via social networking as the go to lady for superb sound engineering. This lady doesn’t disappoint, she is extremely talented, warm, and a total team player.

“Music and Technology are like my home from home. Put the two together, and you get Sound Engineering! I started when I was 17 on the first year of college but never expected to have a skill for it until I started producing both others and my own music.

Now I am 22, on my final year of university, with sound engineering as both a hobby and a career aspect. I have worked for a few big names over the years, but someday I hope to have my own sound out there, shared with the world!”

***

Of course it wouldn’t be the same if I left it without showing the behind the scenes shots so for amusement and bribery purposes and to finish with a thank you to all involved. This is what happens when you sprinkle a bit of confidence building and challenge yourself to take a different path, and step outside your comfort zone:

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For more information on confidence building photoshoots please contact me at my page on Instagram  Or Facebook 

For all your Occasion Wear needs and for a top to toe classy service please contact Debbie at Chequers Boutique

 

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