Why You Gotta Go Used with Your Halloween Costume and How To Do It // WV Boudoir Photographer

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OCTOBER IS HERRRRE! Which has a lot of us thinking about our costumes! Well before you get all excited and go to Amazon and purchase that pre-fab Spice Girls costume, read this.

Last night I talked a little on my Instagram stories about how excited I am about my Halloween costume. One of the things I’m most jazzed about is that I set out to put together a costume made entirely of secondhand/things I had/thrifted/made with repurposed items. And I did it!

Today I’m going to tell you WHY I chose to do this, AND I’m going to tell you HOW you can, too!

🖤🖤🖤Reasons to Not Buy New Halloween Costumes and Buy Used Instead 🖤🖤🖤

1. It’s cheaper. New costumes are NOT CHEAP anymore. Gone are the days when mom could run out and buy what is basically a plastic tablecloth with a picture of She-Ra on it. Thrifting will save you a ton of cash. 

2. It’ll inspire you! Don’t know what to be yet? Hit your local thrift store and just see why they’ve got. Often you’ll find a weird piece of clothing that sparks an idea! Think interesting blazer, retro prom dress, hats, graphic sweatshirts, fun shoes...

3. It’s better for the environment. Now I KNOW y’all have heard what fast fashion is doing to our planet. Guess what is absolutely included in that? One time use Halloween costumes. “But I’ll donate it!” You’re still icing your dollars to tell large companies to keep manufacturing these pieces made of not so Earth-friendly materials in not so human-friendly factories. Buying vintage/used/thrifted bypasses this. 

4. It’s way more fun to use what you have, thrift, make a costume! 🧺 It’s so exciting to see it all come together and know you did it in an ethically and environmentally responsible way. For real! Then on Oct. 31 you get to tell everyone you put it together yourself!

TIPS: 

——go into the thrift store/vintage shop/your closet with an AESTHETIC. You don’t need to have an exact idea. But do you wanna look cute, spooky, funny, sexy, handsome, goofy...

——know your crafting limits. Don’t sign on for a crazy crafting job if that’s just not your skill set. It’ll be Oct. 30 and you’ll be hunched over a scrap of fabric with bloody fingertips and you’ll just have to go as The Shameful Crafter. 

——but be willing to do A LITTLE work to get your costume awesome. 

——the internet is your friend. Don’t copycat; that’s lame. Use it as reference and inspiration!

——use Halloween as an excuse to wear that THING in your closet that you love, but never get to pull out.

——there are TONS of vintage resellers on Instagram that you can purchase awesome costume items from including my girl Danielle of Golden Trash and check out Ramblin Van Vintage and Shoppleganger as well!

——ask around! Another way the internet is your friend on this endeavor is the HIVE MIND for tips and ideas as well as items someone else has and doesn’t need! Ask on IG/Facebook for items you just can’t seem to find.

——be flexible. When I started shopping, I thought I was going to be one thing, but I changed my mind because I found something awesome. Believe it or not, no one is going to remember your costume but you, so as long as you feel good in it yourself, you’re doing great.

So there you have it! Anything to add or ask about buying used Halloween costumes?? What are some awesome things you could be made from thrifted items??



What Kind of Mother Will I Be? // WV Boudoir Photographer

DISCLAIMER I am not pregnant, but we hope to have children in the next few years, which has me thinking about motherhood more. I’m realizing that who I am today is who I’ll be as a mother. These are just thoughts on that.


What kind of mother does a woman like me become?

I have to assume that my inner workings and most notable traits won’t change all that much after I become a mother.

I will still be unpredictable, a little too quick to anger, also a little too quick to giggle, day dreamy and sensitive.

I will probably also still be stubborn and mean sometimes, and strong and passionate most of the times.

I will still want to wear interesting clothes and earrings.

I will also still be falling in love with every person I meet. (Will my children like or dislike this about me?)

I am probably going to slow down my driving a little and pay more attention to the food I eat and the risks I take.

But I’m probably not going to change the way I procrastinate and make excuses.

I will still be a good cook and a lazy reader.

I will still be a control freak to some, amenable to others.

I will still love the spotlight.

I will still sing, and think I’m better at it than I am.

I will still be fascinated with sex and intimacy, and my kids will probably hate that.

I hope that I will take my children’s criticism with a grain of salt, but also not dismiss their queries.

I hope that they like some of these things some day, even if it’s after I’m gone.

I hope that they inherit one or two of the good things.

I hope that they can laugh with their father about some of the bad things.

I might be a little too strict sometimes, a little too lenient others.

I might love a little too hard, pushing them away without meaning to.

I might worry too much.

I might want to hug them too much.

I might try to protect them when I should be letting them experience life.

I might be selfish.

I might teach them their first curse word.

I might inspire them.

I might also annoy them.

I might not give them what they need when they need it every time.

I don’t know what kind of mother a woman like me makes, and I won’t until the day comes.

I can only hope that this missing pieced puzzle of traits adds up to a whole and able mother for the human beings we raise.




I Had To Write You A Letter Because Last Night You Weren't Listening // WV Boudoir. Photographer

Dear Mr. B,

It was nice to meet you last night, but there are some things you need to learn before we speak again. You behaved badly, and unfortunately for you, I am in the process of learning how to take up space. My taking up space leaves less room for you, and you seemed to take issue with that. My presence, unless it was silent, clearly made you uncomfortable. And instead of sitting quietly with that, you got louder. I am too amazing to allow you or anyone like you continue to react to me in this way.

I have a lot to say, Mr. B. Big things, important things. But my body is small. And my voice is high pitched. And if I raise my voice, I’m a bitch. If I raise my voice just to be heard, I’m pushy. I’m bossy. I can’t take a joke. I’m obnoxious. I’m “a lot.”

But you have no idea what you’re missing. I have thoughts. I have ideas. I have knowledge that would blow your goddamn mind. I have questions you’d love to be asked, and I have inspiring answers to the questions you’d never even think to ask me.

I’d love to tell you how you can improve your behavior, but you’re probably not listening. All I can say is the next time we meet, prepared to feel uncomfortable with my volume, my words, my existence. And this time, I won’t let you get away with it.

Even My Gorgeous, Wonderful Husband Doesn't Get It // WV Boudoir Photographer

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Last night, Ricky and I started watching a show called “Workin’ Moms.” It’s a delightfully honest sitcom about, you guessed it, mothers who work. It’s a goddamn work of art, actually. I’ve seen only two episodes, and during both of them I have laughed out loud many times and cried at least once per episode. It goes deep in a way that most pieces of film are afraid to. Deep in a way that, apparently, only women will understand.


One of the mothers in the show is struggling to produce enough milk via breastfeeding. At the end of an episode, after a long, difficult day of “having it all” (read: working in an office full of men and getting mocked and dismissed for being a MOTHER), her baby fights feeding, but does eventually give in and latches. Her entire body relaxes as she lets out whimpering versions of “thank god.”


The credits rolled, along with the tears down my face. I looked over at my progressive, amazing, understanding husband and said, “do you see? Do you see how much more we have to deal with? Do you see how much harder women have to work just to live a life?” And I was met with a blank stare. Nothing. No words. No emotion. He just stared at me.


To his credit, we were watching a sitcom on Netflix when his wife turned around with a face full of tears, asking him to explain himself and the patriarchy. Maybe he was just stunned. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t even all that surprised. Women have been alone in this fight forever.

I guess deep down, I’ve known that he doesn’t get it, or I wouldn’t have asked those hypothetical questions of him. We are approaching the years in which we’ll grow our family, and it brings a lot of questions to the surface. Problems that are easy to delay solving now, but won’t be for much longer.


These questions are easy to ignore because my husband IS one of the good ones. He does basically all of our dishes. He does laundry, including my Thinx. He takes care of the cats, the bills, yard, the cars. He understands what emotional labor is, and often verbally acknowledges how much of it he sees me doing. He doesn’t talk over me. He doesn’t talk down to me. As men go, he’s pretty great.

So I forget sometimes, that although he IS incredible, he’s still not a woman.


He still doesn’t understand why I prefer to take the elevator in a parking garage.


He doesn’t know that in the winter, I ran home from my job that was 30 yards away, door to door, in the evenings.


He doesn’t understand how terrifying it is to have an irregular period as a 32 year old woman who wants children.

He doesn’t understand why I’m in such a damn hurry to buy a house.


He doesn’t see other men not making eye contact with me in a group conversation.


He doesn’t know why I hate it when he says he hasn’t noticed the several pounds I’ve put on.


He doesn’t understand why it’s such a goddamn relief that I’ve decided not to breastfeed.


He doesn’t mind, but doesn’t know the power I’ve found in keeping my last name for now.


He doesn’t feel the weight of the government using women’s bodies as pawns in a power game.

He doesn’t, and won’t truly understand any of this. Because he can’t. We can have all of the conversations in the world. He can see me screaming, crying, heartbroken, livid, but he’ll never really know any of it.

I can tell him and teach him how to support women, but the fact is, this will always be a space between my husband and me. This will be something we never have in common.

Computer science

Transformers

Musicals

Understanding life as a woman.



Great Expectations: Holiday Edition // WV Boudoir Photographer

As a kid, I knew my Christmases didn’t look like the ones in the movies. Our house was smaller. Our family was broken and spread out. And our budget was definitely smaller. (Who can afford to fly their entire family across the country a la Home Alone?)

It never bothered me, though. If anything, I thought I had it better than other kids. I effectively got three Christmases. Christmas Eve at my dad’s, Christmas Day at mom’s, and then a few days after Christmas we’d make the trek to my mother’s side of the family and have our third and final Christmas before the New Year came. It was great! So many people, and yeah, plenty of presents. It just didn’t look like a Christmas movie Christmas.

By the time I was nine years old, both of my older brothers were out of the house. They came home for a lot of Christmases after that, but as years went on, their holiday visits became less predictable. I’d also ceased communications with my father, and our extended family visits became less frequent. And then, about 6 years ago, it was just mom and me on Christmas morning.

It was a lovely morning, but it felt like there were several missing pieces.

A few years into the Mommy & Me Christmases, I decided to take matters into my own hands. My mother had put together over 40 Christmases for the boys and me, so the least I could do was cook a couple meals and plan a few crafts.

But that didn’t feel quite right either. I didn’t understand it. I was checking all of the Christmas boxes:

  • Christmas Eve dinner

  • Christmas Eve mass

  • Christmas morning breakfast

  • plenty of packages for mom to open

  • our favorite Christmas album on repeat

I still felt a heavy weight on my heart.

I wish I could say it was a crystal clear Hallmark movie moment when I realized it, but that’s just not how it went. It was more of a slow awakening.

When I took the reigns of the holiday, I was doing everything I could to make ours look like the Christmases in Christmas movies.

But our Christmas has never looked like those! Not even the happiest of our holidays resembled the ones in the movies, so why would I try to force it to?

Our Christmas is quiet and messy. It’s silly and disjointed. It’s unpredictable, different from year to year. It’s relaxed and loose. It’s cozy and comforting. Our traditions might not look like the ones in the movies, but we do have them. And this year, instead of trying to make our Christmas something it’s not, I’m going to enjoy what it IS.

A Tour of Our Living Room // WV Boudoir Photographer

The silver airplane bottle opener is from a delightful, expertly curated antique barware store on Tybee Island. We only got to enjoy that shop for one year before it closed. We knew they wouldn’t be open the next year, though, because we’d made friends with the owners and got a little back story. They moved back to D.C.

The white porcelain horse is from Target, the clearance end cap. I waited for him to be cheap enough to justify the purchase of a white porcelain horse. I’ve had him longer than Ricky and I have had each other. He’s got two chips on his elaborate bridle. I call him Conquistador Horse.

The macrame on the bedroom door is from a craft I attempted at a business owner’s meeting. I’m not very good at macrame.

The fiddle fig tree is from a friend. She thoughtfully brought it as a thank you gift for having her as an overnight guest.

The letterpress prints behind the bar are my brother’s gift for being in our wedding. They will be expensive and inconvenient to ship, so I have put that off. Ricky would like to do it before Christmas. I would like to wait until they drive up here again.

“Girls Named Penelope” is a piece of art by a lady called Leslie. I fell in love with it at Arts Walk, an annual event here in Morgantown. It is often crisp, cool and wet this night. It’s my favorite evening of the year.

The candle beside Alexa is made by a company that is based in Ohio. The candles are too expensive, and I have to go to this one store in the Strip in Pittsburgh to get them, but I always have a really pleasant interaction there. I’m kind of proud to be able to treat myself to these candles, and I enjoy visiting the store where I get them.

The blue velvet pillow is from Salvation Army. I got it at least 7 years ago. It used to have tassels on it, but I cut those off. I like the color a lot. It is luxurious and whimsical.

The other blue pillow in the room was accidentally stolen from the hotel where everyone stayed for our wedding. Our nephew thought it belonged to us and packed it with our things the morning after our wedding. We thought that was a funny story so we kept it.

The brass bar tools set is from a cool vintage shop in Pittsburgh. I was with my friend, and she really liked it too, but it was a lot of money for me to spend on something like that at the time. So I tried to send Ricky a picture, but I didn’t get very good service in the store, so I had to make the choice on my own. I’m really glad I got it.

The statue of a samurai was a gift from Ricky’s host family in Japan. They didn’t speak English, and he didn’t speak Japanese. He had a hell of a time getting in through customs. I think it’s hideous but is cool enough to keep around. I hope someday we have a perfect spot for it in our house. I know it means a lot to Ricky.

Not Every Good Deed Needs Done // WV Boudoir Photographer

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WARNING: If you don’t know me that well, this post is going to seem like a humble brag. If you know me, then you know that it’s just an upfront brag. I’M KIDDING.


Anyway, last week I did a last minute session for a friend who was due to have a baby ANY MINUTE. (This is not a photo of her.) We happened to run into each other after not seeing one another for a while, and she mentioned that she had wanted to do a session but time got away from her. So I asked if she had any time that week (the week the baby was due!), and she did! I was SO THRILLED that we were able to make it happen.


The session was magical. I knew it would be. That’s part of the reason I did it. Since I’ve known this woman, I’ve known her to be kind, warm, and full of a really wonderful innate joy. She is a woman who is in touch with her body and soul, and I knew this session would mean a lot to her and her husband. It just felt so right to do it. The universe gently dropped this session into my arms, much like you’d hand off a newborn baby.

My hour or so with her was lovely. She was not only so genuinely grateful, but she was so tightly embracing of the experience. She allowed herself to get a little lost in it. She immersed herself. That was such a joy to witness and photograph. It truly did my heart so much good to photograph her and her baby. It meant a lot to me to be able to document her body with child. I was so happy she’d have these photos forever.

Photography is an incredible gift to give someone. I obviously can’t do every kind thing I want to with my photography. But I think it’s important to listen to yourself and learn when it’s right to give the gift. It doesn’t just have to do with the recipient. It has to do with what this gift will do for your soul as well. I know that sounds selfish. But if it doesn’t sit right in your heart, then what kind of a gift is it anyway?

This is an important distinction for everyone to make, not just photographers. Unpopular opinion alert: Not every good deed needs done. It is only when the good deed feeds both souls: the giver AND the recipient that it does the world the most good. And in order for it to feed your soul, it’s gotta feel right to you. It’s gotta light you up a little. It’s gotta be an honor. It’s gotta make you sparkle, too.

Protect your gifts. They’ll mean even more when you give them if you do.



Low Rise Jeans on a High Rise Body // WV Boudoir Photographer

Between the ages of 13 and 17, I must have spent what added up to hours pulling my shirts down and my jeans up. All of my shirts had little spots of stretched, puckered material at the bottoms where I'd compulsively pull them down to meet my low rise jeans.

I still cringe at the thought of that feeling--sitting down, feeling the cool air on what may or may not be your ass crack. You could never tell for sure, so you always assumed it was out. I walked through the hallways slumped over, even though I was a tiny 5'2". If I scrunched my body, you couldn't see my hips busting out of the top of my jeans. I can still remember the tightness of the "waist" band sinking down my hips as I sat on hard classroom chairs. And sitting on the ground was simply out of the question. So I'd stand and watch the game while my narrower-hipped friends sat criss cross apple sauce in the grass.

Shopping wasn't any fun. Shirts were too short, pants were too long. I remember wishing I could cut off the extra material at the bottoms of my jeans and put it on the top. Every pair of jeans I tried on stopped short of slipping over what I called my muffin top. I'd run the tests: sitting, squatting, bending over to see just how much of my ass crack you could see with each movement. We'd scour the mall searching for a different style in my size while my mother tried to help by saying things like, "honey, you're so thin!"

And I was. I was a size 4 until you got to my hips and ass. I had what all the women in my family referred to as "The Daugherty ASSet." All of the women in my family were curvy, especially in the tush area. Growing up, I'd always assumed that when I hit puberty, I'd start to look like them. At 13, my butt grew, but my stomach didn't. I'd never seen a shape like mine. Shopping trips only reinforced the idea that my body was weird, wrong with every pair of jeans that squeezed into my soft hips.

My whole life people told me I was pretty, but between 13 and 17 I hid behind scraggly hair and wrong-sized clothing because I felt abnormal. 


Fast forward a few years, 2005. I'm shopping in an Old Navy in Pittsburgh, and I see a sign I'd never seen before. Above the wall of denim were signs describing what style of jean was under it. 

boyfriend    cropped    skinny   CURVY

Curvy? Could this be me? Could these pants have been built for people shaped like me? Were there other people shaped like me?

 I snagged every wash, every color they had in my size and ran to the fitting room.

I remember closing my eyes as I pulled them OVER my hips, and fastening the button that hit at my belly button. I ran the tests: sitting, no ass crack. Squatting, NO ass crack! Bending over, NO ASS CRACK. I got brave and tried sitting criss cross apple sauce on the floor--no skin showing at all. 

Sitting on that fitting room floor, I had so many questions.

Where have these jeans been all my life?

Did they exist when I was in high school?

Am I shaped funny, or did low rise jeans lie to me?

My curvy jeans gave me glasses. I started to see that there are as many body shapes as there are women in this world. I felt a sense of relief. No one is weird when everyone is different.

I wore those jeans til my knees tore through. They weren't perfect, but for the first time in my life, I didn't have to reach back to make sure my ass crack wasn't out when I sat down, and that felt good.


I reclaimed my self esteem around age 20, but I was still dressing to downplay my "Daugherty ASSet" until a year or so ago. I was still following rules like

don't wear horizontal stripes on bottom

no skinny jeans

only a line dresses and definitely not pencil dresses

wear loud patterns and bright colors on top to distract the eye

Distract the eye?! From what? The horror that is my backside?!

Then I heard of a brand called Madewell that friends and bloggers said understands women. I looked them up online. I noticed that they have a fit called "high rise skinny." Skinny AND high waisted? This was unprecedented in my world.

The next time we were in Pittsburgh, Madewell was on my to do list. I told Ricky to go to the Apple Store, this might take a while.

I bared my soul to the kind young girl who asked I needed help. She chuckled at the TMI I served her, but loaded a fitting room with more options than I knew I had. 

I blew through them, giggling and doing happy dances behind my fitting room curtain.

"How's it going in there?"

"Oh my god. Oh my god!"

She laughed. "Okay, well let me know if you need another size or anything."


I wear my Madewells multiple times a week, and I just ordered my second pair. 

A well-fitting jean taught me that there are infinite body shapes. A perfect fitting jean taught me how to love mine. So much, that when I'm wearing them, I often tuck my shirts in, just so you can see my tush as I strut across a room.

More importantly, loving my own shape helps me love all the other shapes. Wearing these jeans helps me celebrate ALL the shapes. 

I never want you to feel wrong, weird or abnormal because of the clothes that are available to you. I only want you to feel beautiful and celebrated. Wear what you want; wear what feels good. Wear what makes you want to strut across a room. 

You are beautiful, just as you are my friend.