Beautiful woman in a flowing red dress during her boudoir and portrait photoshoot in Paris with Gloria Villa

How to Transform Your Body Image Perception from Negative to Positive


Sonja had to postpone her 2020 boudoir photoshoot with me due to the pandemic, and on October 2, 2022 we finally made it happen! Afterwards, she asked if she could share a sample of her photos to accompany a Facebook post detailing her experience with me in Paris, and I thought her testimonial was so valuable regarding body acceptance (something that we as women universally struggle with) that I wanted to amplify the message in a blog post, and send it to you all! So you can transform your body image perception from negative to positive.

Everyone should read this, so if you feel just as inspired as me with her account and reflections about the Parisian boudoir experience, feel free to share it with whomever you think may benefit from it. Sonja is also an attorney by profession and like many other women in corporate roles and/or traditional career fields, she had to take the mental space and energy to consider how these beautiful and natural images could impact perceptions of her professionally in light of all the headlines that still plague women to this day – sharing these is also a deliberate statement that women can be multi-faceted and should not be forced to suppress their innate femininity, sensuality, and sexuality.

gorgeous woman in front of the Eiffel Tower with a white umbrella during her boudoir and portrait photoshoot in Paris with Gloria Villa

To know more about how to prepare for your boudoir photoshoot click HERE

“There are only a few things in life that appreciate in value…photos are among them” – wise words by Gloria Villa: The whirlwind ten days I spent in France this fall was epic, and though the Paris leg was only a few days, the highlight was a boudoir shoot with an immensely talented photographer and new friend Gloria Villa who is also one courageous woman (I’m sharing a sample of photos she took with her permission, some of which I’ve edited/cropped to cover content reserved for intimate circles but none of which I am ashamed of). I’m so grateful that she was available to re-do the shoot that I had to cancel in 2020.

Having done one before for my 32nd birthday (which was still fun but I just did not feel the right vibe with that photographer who did not capture the natural style I preferred – matching with the right photographer is so crucial for the vulnerable nature of this kind of intimate shoot), this time around, I wanted to roll at a comfortable pace and voice my creative input. Gloria welcomed it all and delivered an album’s worth of cherished memories. Thank you also to Pauline with Onorina Jomir Beauty who took great care to address my concerns about makeup for Asian features!

Beautiful woman in black and white photo posing nude with a perl necklace during her boudoir and portrait photoshoot in Paris with Gloria Villa

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As someone who rarely loves how I’m captured in photos, independently investing in a boudoir shoot with a photographer who embraces a natural beauty aesthetic, honored my comfort level, and was open to my ideas was truly empowering, and I absolutely recommend it to fellow women who also want to do one on their own terms and just for themselves, especially with a photographer who you trust (enough to strip down to your birthday suit just hours after meeting and not feel judged!), listens to your story, welcomes and respects your unique vision and creativity, and understands what it is like to occupy a female body that is subject to endless criticisms and held to unrealistic standards.

(Though there are many talented male photographers out there, from my perspective, a boudoir shoot with a male gaze is another kind of experience that produces very different results…I’m sure some people may disagree but everyone is entitled to their own opinions).

On the evening after the shoot wrapped and before the reveal session, I serendipitously dined next to an American high fashion model who had just walked a runway show for Paris Fashion Week earlier that day, and she even accurately predicted that the portrait with just my birthday suit and pearls would be the one that I would love the most!

self confident woman in a withe dress in front of the Eiffel Tower during her boudoir and portrait photoshoot in Paris with Gloria Villa

To know more about why is important to have your own boudoir photoshoot click HERE

This session also offered a healing and reflective journey as this strong, resilient, and beautiful body I occupy has endured so much scrutiny during her lifetime — from family, crass men (those who need to learn respect and to take a good hard look at their own reflection – literally and figuratively), peers, complete strangers, to even myself (and I know many other people, especially fellow women can relate). Over the years, in addition to the societal pressures, I’ve heard countless hypercritical, hurtful, and off-putting unsolicited remarks about my body and appearance (some of my earliest memories of harsh criticisms date back to when I was even 8 years old, maybe earlier…) and they have an insidious way of infiltrating and occupying the psyche. These thoughtless remarks all have a common thread of chipping away at body acceptance, autonomy, and agency. Then, compound all of that with the heightened feelings of invisibility and “otherness” from being perceived as a perpetual foreigner who is not deeply understood and not seen as a unique individual in my country of birth due to such reasons as:

(1) being lumped into the Asian American monolith (which also takes a mental and emotional toll from constantly confronting negative stereotypes, fetishization, and microagressions) and (2) growing up as a minority in a white dominant community where Eurocentric beauty standards reign.

Happy woman in red lingerie during her boudoir and portrait photoshoot in Paris with Gloria Villa

To know more tips on how to buy your lingerie for your boudoir photoshoot, click HERE

And though it has been promising to see slow progress with better representation in Western media of people who share my Korean heritage, it is still so rare to see a Korean face and body type featured in the media that has not been cosmetically surgically altered – though I will indulge in non-invasive spa and self-care rituals, minimal makeup enhancements, and a healthy fitness and wellness regimen (happy to share), at this stage in my life, I have no desire to mute my Asian features and “fix” my monolids, get a nose or boob job, shave my jawline, or sever the nerves in my calves (all common elective cosmetic procedures in South Korea) or be under 100 pounds standing at 5’7” despite all the messaging I’ve heard over the years.

Black and white photo of women in sexy outfit drinking champagne during her boudoir and portrait photoshoot in Paris with Gloria Villa

The decision to gift and celebrate myself with this inspirational, liberating, magical, nurturing, and whimsical experience in Paris and collection of photos provided a fun creative outlet and helped to shed shame, reclaim my body, and flush a lot of that toxicity down the drain (especially in a year that has been a rough one for womankind). I am proud to have created such wonderful memories in the midst of my 37th year, and to be a multi-faceted woman who is content with being plastic surgery-free and filler-free (though I understand those are all personal decisions) in an Instagram-filter-obsessed era when misogyny still persists, and bold enough to even assert clapbacks like, “To be honest, I did a boudoir shoot in Paris, and that duffle bag has all my lingerie from home” to a false speculation by a customs officer who wrongfully assumed that I must have bought “a lot of really nice expensive things from France” (fact check: some Asian American women do not get lured in by excessive amounts of luxury goods on trips abroad — but are satisfied with a few classic staples they have acquired domestically — and gravitate toward memorable experiences like this instead ).

Woman in lingerie looking at herself in the mirror during her boudoir and portrait photoshoot in Paris with Gloria Villa

Hey Gloria, I’m ready, let’s do this!

gloria villa boudoir paris photographer smiling at the camera on her about page

You deserve it!

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