I first met Christina in 2015 when I was invited as a guest photographer to cover an event called Business in Heels. At the time, I was photographing women exclusively and had just embarked on the 40 over 40 project, a project I conceived out of a desire to celebrate women; their loves, their lives and their passions. I wanted to inspire and empower women to see their TRUE beauty. I'm not talking physical beauty here, I'm talking about our intelligence, strength, courage, vulnerability and determination. There were many reasons for wanting to do this; a big one was to let women know that it is ok to be present. By that I mean, exist in photographs. Exist in them for your family, your kids, your partner, your friends and for yourself. The message I was trying to get out there aligned so well with Christina's message of women supporting each other that I just had to be involved.
As women we often put everyone and everything before ourselves and often feel we don’t look good enough to be in those photographs. Yet they will become the most precious things in the world to someone should we no longer be around. Our family and friends love us for who we are, not what we look like.
So as I got to know Christina, I knew I just had to tell her story.
There were lots of reasons Christina had avoided having photographs taken, but the biggest was that she had been overweight for most of her life. At 5ft 3”, she weighed in at 110kgs at her heaviest and so avoiding photos was normal for her. The biggest regret she had though was that there isn’t very many photos of her with her boys. Christina explained “this had led me to be very self conscious in the past and I still struggle seeing photos of myself and always pick up the faults I see”.
Following a steady path to self-improvement, Christina has lost in excess of 40kgs. She has also been working hard; starting her own Life Coaching business “Back Yourself Coaching” where she helps create life plans so people can live a more fulfilled life; a “life by design” as she explains it. She also runs Business in Heels, as a monthly women’s networking event where women can be around others on the same journey. She describes her strengths as being determined and having perseverance in abundance, with the ability to problem solve and be creative. With building her business, it hasn’t left much time for herself but she is following her passion and doing what she loves to do. She also loves cooking and catching up with friends.
One thing she was not prepared for on her epic weight loss journey was for the loose skin that such a dramatic change would leave her with. So several surgeries later, she is now comfortable with the skin she’s in.
Christina’s story is one of self improvement and self discovery. She didn’t loose this weight overnight, it was a steady progression and her wanting to have her portraits done was a celebration of how far she has come. I will let her explain how she felt:
“I was all ok about the photo shoot the night before I picked out some outfits. As usual I over packed, Kylee suggested 5, I think I took about 8!!!! It was all going ok until I pulled up to the front door. Then I started to get really nervous. I'm really not one for photos and there are very few photos of me around. I really don't consider myself to be very photogenic, so being in front of a camera is not my favorite place to be and let me tell you I have had plenty of practice at getting out of being in photos. But there was no getting out of this one. I mean sure, I could have just driven away, and yes, I did think of that, but I didn't want to let Kylee down. So out I got with my eight outfits took a deep breath and into the studio I stepped.
I am very happy I did not listen to those voices in my head telling me to keep driving. Spending the morning with Kylee and Mel in her studio was an amazing experience. From the amazing make up by Mel to the last shot the experience was over whelming (in a good way) especially when I saw the first photos, I felt was going to cry but I was forbidden for fear of smudging the mascara.
I think the best thing about a Kylee experience is not that you come out looking like a supermodel but rather that you are looking like you, you know the you that you keep hidden deep down for fear that someone might laugh at her or tell her she is not all that after all, or laugh at her dreams."
You only need to meet Christina to be energised by her attitude and you can tell she loves what she does by the way she speaks about it. If you are interested in talking to Christina about Life Coaching or you want more information on Business in Heels, you can email her on [email protected] You can also visit Business in Heels on the web or our local group Facebook page. She has now also launched her Women in Business Mastermind group a place for women to encourage and empower each other to create the business of their dreams and to create a future that impacts lives and creates legacies.
It was my pleasure to meet you and an honour to photograph you Christina. I absolutely treasure the friendship that has developed since our first meeting. Your an inspiration to many people and I hope you continue to share your enthusiasm and that beautiful big smile with everyone you meet.