Bosom Buddies – ‘Just See Me’

Bosom Buddies is a support group known locally in Lincolnshire as a fabulous group of women, all with something in common. Breast Cancer.

As a newly established, self-taught photographer based in Humberston in Lincolnshire and a background in nursing of some 25 years I found myself drawn to creating something different, something simple and something above all, that would ‘scatter kindness’ 
I am a passionate photographer and a true believer in romance, ‘sass and class’ specialising predominantly in Women’s Photography & Portraiture and predominantly and maybe a little uniquely, in Health and Wellbeing Confidence Building Photography.
My aim is always to capture natural & beautiful photographs, full of emotion, and most importantly lots of love and laughter and for this project I considered it to be a very special honour to capture not one woman’s beauty and embrace her health and wellbeing, but ten ! As part of my Perfection is Perception series this project tells the story of showing the true beauty of real people with real stories.

I believe that photographs are made and not just taken, moments are captured not directed, and true life can be reflected back to the viewer and in turn help centre people back to their true self.

It was through meeting a very special lady, Carolyn, some time ago in hospital that I had the very simple idea of scattering kindness in the only way I know how. Theres no training course or qualifications required, its merely about being kind and showing others that you care. While in hospital as a patient myself, I offered Carolyn, a lady recently diagnosed with cancer, a make-over photography session, to help show her the beauty I was witnessing from across the ward each time I listened to her stories, watched her with her loved ones and talked to her late into the night about love and life. I wanted to let her see herself as everyone else did. A beautiful, strong, inspiring woman. 

You can read more about this fabulous lady here:

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Through Carolyn, I met her daughter Lisa who was a member of Bosom Buddies and I went on to develop the idea to show other people what Carolyn had experienced in finding her beauty. So often the focus is on physical health, especially when under hospital treatment and emotional wellbeing is often put to one side. This project generated interest not only because of its nature and how it all started but also for where these sessions resonate for each person who attends, for whatever reason, be it a physical or emotional health issue of any kind.

In November 2016, I offered The Bosom Buddies a photo-shoot experience at a local hotel, with the aim of each of the ladies in this support group seeing ‘perfection in their own reflection.’ 

The event was held at Healing Manor Hotel, and I asked my team of Make-Over Fairies to work their magic for each of the ladies. Natalie George HMUA and her assistant Natasha, who work with me on these sessions on a regular basis, led a team of other Make-Over Fairies, including Lavender Hill Hair Rooms, Nadia Baxter ‘Travelling Make Up Artist’ and Emma Richardson, Beauty Therapist and Sara Allen Hairdresser. All these women, worked together in their spare time to show kindness and help inspire others. The day was a huge hit with the ladies having such fun and embracing the treat.
The intention for this project was to utilise the images and the ladies words about diagnosis and treatment around breast cancer. Each of the women told their story and this has been presented with their photograph. The fantastic news around this project is the interest that the local NHS Services have shown. As a result of the project I was asked to present to the Pink Rose Suite at Grimsby Hospital and tell the story and why I want to get these sessions out there and grow the network further. This in turn has led me to presenting my patient journey to the Trust Board and explaining how everything began from my admission into hospital , through to meeting Carolyn, and beyond into making positive change happen for others. We are currently in talks about furthering this concept for patients, and I hope to produce a leaflet with The Bosom Buddies for the waiting area of The Pink Rose Suite. Even more exciting news is that we are also looking at progressing this experience as a service for a wider audience within the NHS.

So here are my wonderful strong beautiful ladies, with their fabulous words, which in turn I hope will resonate with others.

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This project has not been focussed on highlighting or embracing the scars of surgery but more to suggest that there is so much more to breast cancer and its effects are often far reaching into our emotions. It’s not the scars that define a person but the healing from the inside of how a person perceives themselves. This project was about using portraiture in a beautiful sensitive way to reflect these ladies and their beauty and in turn enable them to view themselves beyond a diagnosis and use the experience as part of a healing process.

Bertha

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Margaret (Sue’s Mum)

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Sue (Margaret’s Daughter) 

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Paula

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Diane

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Kim

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Lisa

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Pam

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Carol

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A big Big thank you to everyone behind the scenes. Healing Manor for your superb hospitality, even including the fluffy white dressing gowns for the ladies! and of course the Make-Over Fairies! Without you wonderful ladies, I could not have achieved this for The Bosom Buddies, and I wanted to thank you all for giving your time to this, and being part of scattering a little kindness.

Also a huge thank you to The Pink Rose Team, and The Quality Team at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust, for giving this the attention and platform it deserves, so that others may share the same experience.

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For more information on this and my other projects and sessions please contact me at my Facebook Page : Janey Kay Photography

To view my Health & Wellbeing Work also please look here: BBC Look North 

Articles:

Confidence Building 

Carolyns Story

A Family Affair 

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Perfection is Perception ‘Photography and My Looking Glass Self’

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This project centres around self esteem and body confidence. It is about using our media platform in a positive way to celebrate realistic body image.

Why ? Well heres a bit of background:

‘A study conducted by Florida State University and published by the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that a group of women, who were asked to browse social media for 20 minutes, experienced greater body dissatisfaction than those who spent 20 minutes researching rainforest cats online.’

(Information taken from Dove Campaign – Impact of Social Media and Body Image)

Yes you read that right ladies and gents….cats in a rainy tropical forest have the upper hand to make us feel happier about ourselves.

Social media can be a beautiful, positive environment, and this has always been its intention from the start.

Social – being a positive and fun interaction with others and Media -being the platform to engage in these activities.

Of course with every positive there often follows a negative and while we cannot state that social media is the cause of low self-esteem and body image issues, it does of course have all the right elements to contribute to it on the basis that human nature tells us to compare ourselves and seek affirmation from others.

For girls, and boys ( lets not leave the lads out here as this is not a ‘women only’ zone and we will be following up this project with a blokey version too) but indeed for anyone who may have a tendency towards perfection, anxiety and sometimes disordered eating, they may see images of slimness as advertising the perfect script for happiness. In turn validation online can falsely fill the need for acceptance. Peer feedback on our looks sadly becomes important and collecting ‘likes’ based purely on our physical appearance merely serves as a catalyst for insecurity.

This isn’t an issue that centres itself purely in the realms of the internet, its an image portrayed to us all whether it be through, television, film and publications.

The project that these women have become involved with is not with the intention of battling against the giants of media and challenging the whole issue head on, it is merely to engage an audience into a different way of viewing ourselves and seeing the ‘real beauty’ in our own personal selves. The only ‘diet’ these women have overcome is the unhealthy visual media diet that still to this day prevails.

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Theres nothing nicer in life than a compliment, but we often struggle to accept them even when they come from our nearest and dearest. Why do we shun them away, is it because we don’t respect another’s opinion about ourselves or is it because we genuinely don’t see our true beauty in the way others see
us?

Lets face it none of us were born hating how we looked now were we?

So there’s a lot to be said about research into what influences us in this particularly aspect of our lives, and yes, we could produce ‘facts and figures’ to get us all thinking ( just look at the cat fact at the beginning of this piece) but lets bring this back to basics, back to a visual that is ‘factual’ and real, with ‘figures’ that are beautiful and real and stories that ground us all. Its nothing more complicated than celebrating the beauty within ourselves. You can take it , you can leave it and pass it by onto the next media image that is presented to you; you can become intrigued and research the subject (with or without the involvement of cats) but ultimately you have seen the visual, and that is the aim of the project. It will connect with some of you and mean nothing to others but if just one person sees this and it resonates even slightly, then the project has achieved its aim. So here it is our beautiful ladies each telling their story of why they became involved with this photo shoot and in turn we hope you will support them in embracing positive body image and share the story.


The wonderful ladies who volunteered for this project

When I was looking at putting this project together I hoped to engage with ladies who shared my thoughts about self image and how this can often affect the way we view ourselves within society.

The theory of our ‘Looking Glass Self’ is centred around the self-image an individual forms by imagining what others think of his or her behaviour and appearance.

The looking-glass self is a social psychological concept, created by Charles Horton Cooley in 1902, stating that a person’s self grows out of society’s interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others.

So we have already touched on self image and its correlations with the quest for media hyped perfection, and its Cooleys theory that underpins this project. People often approach life through a developed sense of themselves as beautiful, average, or ugly which is largely shaped by their perceptions of how others see them. In turn they then experience pride or shame for associating themselves with one or the other categories. In the quest for ‘beautiful’ this can come in the form of ‘likes’ on social media, or popularity groups starting as early as school age.

Theres lots of theorists and research one could wade through and it comes down to these three components when we are talking about our ‘Looking Glass Self’:

We imagine how we must appear to others.

We imagine and react to what we feel their judgment of that appearance must be.

We develop our self through the judgments of others. (Yeung, et al. 2003).

For the purpose of simplicity this was about seeing ourselves as others do, which for the ladies who took part, it turned out to be an empowering and esteem building exercise.

“I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think that you think I am.”

In my everyday work as a photographer I aim to show people themselves. Their true beauty, the beauty that their loved ones see when they laugh and joke, the beauty that is unique to only themselves and not a beauty that is preconceived or comes with a measuring tool to fit to societies expectations.

Introducing my ladies and their wonderful words.

Julie

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‘In my younger days I was rather large , then had two children and the weight ballooned. I joined a slimming club and lost five stone which gave me more confidence than I’d ever had in my life . I retained my weight loss for most of my adulthood but then nearing 50 I developed several issues , gall bladder problems , tooth loss and the worse thing in any woman’s life the dreaded wrinkles and varicose veins in my legs. this wasn’t great as I had considered them my best feature. My middle age spread returned and I began to feel less and less attractive . It was my daughter who introduced me to the idea of a boudoir shoot with Janey . It was the best confidence boost ever. Full of fun and laughs and totally at ease I stripped down to my essentials and started posing . I showed them to anyone and everyone and was in awe of myself so when Janey mentioned her project, I decided to volunteer and wow ! what a great day I had , strutting my stuff with other like minded ladies . The results were probably even better than the first pictures because the confidence I had gained oozed out. I am so pleased I took the initial jump and went along to Janey as this shows us all that we sometimes forget to see ourselves as just ourselves, without comparison to others. We are all different and all beautiful.’

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Claire

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‘What can I say ? It was a hilarious day, it was fantastic, it was also amazing to see how nervous some of the ladies were to start with but how by the end of it, those nerves had vanished. Boobs, legs and bums everywhere. I am so proud of what we did, no, I still don’t see myself as a ‘beauty’, or as ‘sexy’, or as anything I ‘should’, but I see that others have the same insecurities, even those people you never dreamed would. Social media, where pouts are accepted and a double chin is frowned upon, it can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Women, Men, Aliens from Mars, stop looking to social media for acceptance. The magazines are photoshopped, the pictures are posed, it’s all fake. What is real is this picture. These pictures, these stories. Janey made us feel fabulous all day, regardless of our sizes, regardless of our wobbly bits, she did that. We all had our hangups from feet to bums to wobbly arms but we bared our wobbles to the world and said screw it. We knew what we were getting into and we loved every minute. So very much fun. Thank you JKP for yet another absolutely amazing experience where my cheeks ached from laughing so much Women, you rock! Don’t ever let anyone put you down, spray your glitter and SPARKLE !’

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Leanne 

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‘For as long as I can remember I have compared myself to other women and have not been happy with what I saw in the mirror. After the birth of my son and a bad breakup and my confidence was at an all time low. Then my friend introduced me to Janey and I’m so glad that she did, she made me feel a million dollars and I don’t think I have ever laughed so much. Janey took some beautiful pictures I didn’t believe it was me and I will treasure them forever. I was so happy when she asked me to be part of this project as she had already done so much for my own self esteem. I loved meeting the other ladies and together I think we show that you don’t have to be what society deems ‘perfect’ to be beautiful because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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Emmi

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‘This experience was amazing and gave me a massive confidence boost. why did I apply ? I have spent years being embarrassed about being big (size 18) and always feeling conscious next to my slim friends. Now I am embracing my size. I want to show women that it doesn’t matter what size you are or if you have lumps/bumps or stretch marks we are all beautiful and should not hide out bodies away. Getting these photographs has reinforced that I don’t need to lose weight I look amazing as I am. I still want to lose weight but that’s for me and my health, not to fit in with what society expects or the doctors expect. I look good as I am, if others don’t like it then it’s their problem and not mine. I love me, I love the person I am becoming, I am slowly emerging from this cocoon that I have been in and showing the world who I am, it’s scary and it’s amazing but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Because I love myself now and respect myself  I don’t need approval from others as I don’t care anymore. Because I find myself attractive now and have confidence in who I am, others have always seen it and the best bit is I now see what others see.’

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Leanne

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‘I have a disability that effects my legs and means I need to use a wheelchair.
Because of this I have always had low confidence and definitely never thought of myself as ‘beautiful’
I’ve worked with Janey a few times before and she gave me some of the confidence I was lacking. I jumped at the chance to be part of this project, as it’s everything I believe in.
I want to be a ‘role model’ to people in my situation and show others that we are all beautiful in our own way and it’s okay to be different.
Janey and this project have given me tonnes of confidence. I am me, take it or leave it.
I have my disability but my disability doesn’t have me.
Thank you Janey and thank you for believing in people like me. The world needs more people like you ❤

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Kathy

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‘ At 34, you’d think I would be totally comfortable in my own skin. I could easily list more things about myself I would like to change, than things I love about my body. Bringing two fabulous children into this world has taken its toll on my body and I am still learning to love certain bits! I want them to have a confident Mum, so that it rubs off on them! Us ladies are really good at paying genuine compliments to others, without any real effort, but we never believe it when we are told we look beautiful in some way. The only person who is so highly critical of your body, is you. We need to stop comparing, and start loving what we have.”

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Tora

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‘I met Janey when she was doing a friends Wedding and I had seen her self esteem building photo sessions on her Facebook Page.  So when I heard about this project I so wanted to take part in it because I knew that I needed a change in perspective and a higher level of self esteem. I want to be comfortable with what I have and not how I look. I have always worried about how I look in pictures and always look for flaws, I think we are all guilty of that. So for me it was time to bite the bullet and embrace some awesome pictures and give me the confidence that I need. In turn I now know I will be able to teach my daughters to embrace their beauty too.’

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So there we have it, seven wonderful ladies all individual, all beautiful, all prepared to look at themselves, their own reflections, and not be influenced by others. The message here is simple and its clear.

See Perfection In Your Own Reflection 

Thank you for reading, if you love this article share it, if you don’t then pass it by without comment. Thank you again to the ladies who took part, to Healing Manor Hotel who hosted the event. ( A Huge Thanks To Emma who coordinated the event for us and shared our passion. ) A big big thank you to my wonderful team of make-over fairies: Natalie who works with me regularly on my self esteem photo-shoots, and Natasha her assistant; to Sara a super duper hairdresser and wonderful friend , Chelsea , and my little helper  and runner for the day, Elizabeth.

( All photographs displayed are the work and intellectual property of JKP )

You can also view more of my work on Facebook and Instagram

Celebrating women with beautiful hearts, and rebellious souls. ‘A Family Affair’

In 2016 I met a lady called Christine who came to one of my portrait and boudoir make-over sessions as a result of seeing the rest of the women in her family grab their confidence back and shout it to the world. The sessions are designed to raise self esteem and confidence and are accessed by women of all ages, sizes, health abilities etc. It is often perceived that the most beautiful people in this world are the ones that have that unique courage to be themselves, but we don’t all possess this gift of self confidence . These sessions are designed to sprinkle a little fairy dust on everyday life, and allow us to see ourselves as our loved ones see us. Most importantly it’s about seeing yourself as you. Your Looking Glass Self. 

 Christine’s Granddaughter, Claire was one of my first ladies to embrace the boudoir and as a result she then recommended my service to several friends.Then one day she recommended the service to her Mum and Aunty. They both came together and they each had a make-over and photographic session.

A few months later I received a call from Debbie (Aunty) saying that her Mum needed my number because a friend of her Mums wanted a family shoot. So I gave Debbie my number for Christine to ring. A few days later I received a call from her Mum Christine , and I greeted her saying  “I understand your friend wants a family photo-shoot?”  What came next was a surprise to say the least.

Christine said … “That’s not really true, I told a white lie to get your telephone number as I have seen Debbie and Julie and Claire’s photographs and I thought if it’s good enough for my Granddaughter and Daughters , I want a boudoir make over too!”

So from then onwards in secret, we planned it all. On the day , she came to my home, laden down with lingerie and we laughed and laughed. She had a super make-over by  Natalie and  Christine then embraced the boudoir. We did some beautiful Portraits also and she was delighted.  Afterwards I printed out the photographs for Christine, so that she could surprise them all with them to open on Christmas Day.

Lets just say it was an absolute hit! Christine then also bought a photo-shoot for her daughter in law too as a gift! We’ve all laughed about the story saying there can’t be many more family members left for me to photograph, and it was then that Claire said what about Uncle Tony? ! Dudeoir ! Now there’s a new idea!

I’ve had several clients of all differing ages and many now in their 60’s and above. These sessions are certainly proving themselves as a feel good factor, and with further projects already being developed within the health arena, it goes to show that there’s no limitations to embracing your beauty.

Christine

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“My name is Christine and I am now 77 years old. I decided that for a laugh I would have the boudoir shoot as both my beautiful gorgeous daughters and granddaughter had their photo shoot with Janey and were absolutely bowled over with the final results,they were the most stunning pictures . I had a lovely day being pampered by Natalie the make up fairy and felt really relaxed in Janey’s company.

I am so glad I did it as one of my daughters said of one of the pictures that I gave her for xmas was her favourite christmas present and both my favourite daughter Julie and granddaughter said  “good on you Mum / Nan “
I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the reaction from my girls . I have also shown the photos to my friends in the Carr Lane Club who all said , if Janey can make me look like that ,then I’m booking too. It just goes to show you are never too old .”

Christine x

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Claire  (Granddaughter)

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“So after my own amazing experience with Janey, after a long battle with self confidence, I came out feeling lifted, confident, amazing and downright sexy! I’d told my mum what I was doing and inevitably it spread around pretty quickly. My Nan had said at the time, “I would’ve liked to have done something like that, though not in my bra as nobody wants to see this… ” my Mum said she’d have loved to have done it too but again that she’d never done it. It struck me just how many seemingly strong women had got so many inward confidence issues, bums too big, arms too flabby, too old, too much media battering making us feel like we’re somehow past it once we hit 21. I did a little cajoling with Mum, she had seen everything I went through with my inner demons and she absolutely should do this. She decided to talk my Aunty into it too, another beautiful woman in my family who needed the giggles, the amazing confidence that Janey somehow transfers to you in these sessions. So off they went, they had a fabulous time and laughed through it all. The three of us all with these beautiful pictures to remind us of the gorgeous people we are, inside and out. My Nan, not one to be overshadowed, had secretly booked a shoot with Janey that we didn’t know about at all. On Christmas day she presented us with a picture of me, my mum, my auntie and her, all in JKP boudoir pictures.

OMG! My Nan! Knowing what she’d said back before I’d even had mine done had taken me back. She had battled with her inner demons, just as much as I had, faced her fears and got on with it. The upshot was that she had this amazing experience and it’s proven that you genuinely can be any age, any size, any anything and come out of there beaming, glowing. I’m so very proud at what I started, my Mum and my Aunty I fully expected to embrace the experience and enjoy it. My Nan, I never ever expected her to put herself in that position. She genuinely has shocked me and made me so proud. My Nan, the matriarch of us all, the one who has done so much for all of us and drives us all mental, the strongest one of us all, put herself in the most amazing position (physically and mentally) and did this. It is with absolutely brilliant and I’m proud of my amazing women, my family.”

Claire x

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Debbie  (Daughter)

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“I have never really lacked confidence in myself socially but like most ladies of an age I don’t like having photos of myself.

I have hangups like everyone, the usual big bum upper arms how many chins? etc.
That was before I had a boudoir shoot with this lovely lady Janey Kay Photography .

We had such a laugh on the day of the shoot I went with my sister Julie.I didn’t tell anyone we were going and I didn’t think I would ever show the photos to anyone but they were fabulous .
I only contacted Janey one night for a laugh when I came home a bit tipsy and saw photos of my lovely niece on facebook but I’m so pleased I did .
Since then my mum plucked up the courage and had a secret session and surprised us all with a fabulous framed photo of me my sister niece and mum for xmas. It’s beautiful (so is my mum)
Thanks Janey”

Debbie  x

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Julie (Daughter)

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“In my younger days I was rather large , then I had 2 children and the weight ballooned.  I joined a slimming club and lost 5 stone which gave me more confidence than I’d ever had in my life . I retained my weight loss for most of my adulthood but then nearing 50 I had several issues , gall bladder problems ,tooth loss and the worse thing in any woman’s life the dreaded wrinkles and varicose veins in my legs ,which used to be my best feature. My middle age spread returned and I began to feel less and less attractive .

Then my daughter introduced me to the idea of a boudoir shoot with Janey Kay . It was the best confidence boost ever. Full of fun and laughs and totally at ease I stripped down to my essentials and started posing . Not sure I’d done the right thing , until the most beautiful pictures came back. I showed them to anyone and everyone and was in awe of myself.  I then volunteered for another shoot about self esteem and body confidence and what a great day I had , strutting my stuff with other like minded ladies . The results were probably even better than the first pictures because the confidence I had gained oozed out. I am so pleased I took the initial jump and went along to Janey .
Then to top it off at Christmas my mum came round and gave me a photograph that totally surprised me. It was a picture of me, my sister and my daughter all on one photo of our respective photoshoots but my mum was on it too!
She was so proud and my daughter and myself both said Mum / Nan thats ace . Good on you for having having the courage to do this. I have seen many of her pictures and they are gorgeous , just like my Mum is .”

Julie x

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Make-Over Fairy Natalie:

“I started getting involved in the make-overs portrait and boudoir photo-shoots when Janey began them and I’ve never looked back since. we have a great friendship and work fabulously together and I believe this shows in every photo-shoot we have done. It’s such a joy to see these beautiful women, before and especially after, and their attitude towards themselves changes before our eyes! They love their bodies more, the confidence and the sass just oozes…and knowing I have a done a fantastic job making them over with hair and make-up, knowing that I have made those ladies feel fantastic using my skills, is one of the best feelings ever. I absolutely adore my work on these sessions.”

Natalie x ( https://www.facebook.com/themakeoverfairynatgeorge/ )

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Below is the group shot that Christine ( Nan) presented to each of her family members as a surprise to them on Christmas Day.

Thank you ladies for sharing your fabulous stories and your beauty.

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