“If you’re a woman of color,” Teena said, “just to be accepted in society, you have to diminish yourself. Otherwise, you’re going to come across as intense or aggressive or intimidating, which I’ve been told that I was. When the work is serious, I’m stressed out. I focus, I get in the zone. I’m here to get the work done because people’s lives are in my hands. This is what I do. And to be said I’m coming across as intimidating and aggressive… that’s hurtful.”
“I diminished myself so that I could help everyone else around me thrive,” Teena selflessly said.
But even a strong Black woman can experience self-doubt when it feels like the whole world is on her shoulders.
“When I was in my early twenties,” Teena recalled, “I was at a point where I was super confident. I was like, ‘This is me, this who I am. Screw everybody else!’ Then, just hit, after hit, after hit. It just brings your confidence down. Someone shakes you up and then you start giving away pieces of yourself.”
Like many self-sacrificing women, Teena yearned to rekindle her relationship with herself, focus on her own desires, and grow into her best self… without feeling like she was “dropping the ball” on her family, dreams, and responsibilities.
When I left the military, I was living near my best friend, in a place I had already established as my new home, and then I gave all that up to follow my husband to another state. When he had to go to another country on deployment, I left my job so that I could go live near my family, so that I wasn’t alone during my pregnancy. When my husband officially moved up back, I pretty much just gave up my career to be a stay-at-home parent, which also required giving up my time and my body, because I was breastfeeding and just giving, giving, giving so much. But never feeling like I was giving enough.”
Teena felt overwhelmed, pressured, and like her life and body were no longer her own.
“You’re constantly getting advice from other people, when you didn’t ask for advice,” Teena reflected. “You’re constantly being told, ‘Well, instead of doing this, you should have done that.’ Or when you’re trying to say, ‘I’m struggling, mentally. Help!’ and someone’s just like, ‘Well, you’re home with your child so enjoy this time that you have.’ That’s not what I needed.”
What she needed was some time for herself. To pause and think. To reconnect with who she used to be and discover who she is now: an incredibly strong Black woman.
That’s when Teena finally considered doing a boudoir photo shoot for herself.
“I wanted to see myself as something other than a mother, someone other than a wife,” she said. “I want to see myself how I always imagined myself to be. Because I have this image in my head, realistically, of what I am, who I look like. But then I also have this other image in my head of who I could be, who I should be. What I really want to be like, down inside.”
And wow, did her light shine through in her photos. This woman owns her inner-strength, power, and confidence. This woman owns her beautiful curves, skin, and features.
Teena walked into the Silk & Lace Boudoir studio describing herself as “just a mom” and walked out owning and embracing every single fabulous part of herself, inside and out.
“Everything that I’ve done up to this point… that I am up to this point: a stay at home mom, the wife, the student — those are just parts of who I am,” Teena said confidently. “I can still be myself authentically and be all of those things at the same time. I don’t have to sacrifice anymore. I don’t have to give up a piece of myself just for everybody else. I can be selfish. I can hold onto those things.”
The best part of the whole experience is that Teena has finally achieved her goal of rediscovering herself after 20 years. And she’s continuing to grow, thrive, and fall in love with herself.