What happens when you step outside of your comfort zone? …….. You grow, and by that, I mean emotionally rather than in inches!

As an Ambassador of the Embrace movement, Angela Saffrey is passionate about ending the body-shaming that occurs on a societal level, especially towards women. Through advertising and media, we are constantly bombarded with images of people that are not real, images that have been edited and photo-shopped to such an extent, that the original people are barely recognisable.

How different would we feel about ourselves if society truly embraced the diversity in people? Imagine if we were really proud of our wobbly bits, our lop-sided bits, miscoloured bits, scars and other bits of us that are different than what we perceive as normal? How much more fun and easy would our lives be without all the worry and anxiety about our bodies, which let’s face it, no matter what shape or colour they are, are amazing! What would happen to our level of confidence?

Angela has collaborated with Helena Lapworth of Retro Rosie Lingerie and Blanche Gal of About You Photography to shine a light on the true beauty and diversity of the woman’s body, by bringing together 28 women with a large variety of body shapes, ages and skin tones, and asking them to step outside of their comfort zone and grow into a more confident version of themselves.

Their aim, to create a calendar that would showcase Helena’s beautiful line of retro underwear, along with the unedited wonder and diversity of the woman’s body using the artistic expertise of Blanche’s photography. They joined forces with Jane Ward of Chez Titine Salon to produce hair and make-up that finalised the look.

All proceeds of the sale of the calendars are being shared between Coventry Haven (who ensure safety and empowerment for women and children who are experiencing Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in any form) and This is Me (that helps victims of bullying, mainly girls).

The energy and excitement around the project made it impossible not to want to be a part of it, so of course, I signed up!

I looked on Retro Rosie’s website (www.retrorosie.co.uk) and chose my red bra and suspender belt set, and turned up, slightly nervously, to my photo shoot a couple of weeks ago. It turned out to be a long day for me, as I was the last of 5 other ladies on my shoot day, but time passed quickly as we shared interesting and inspiring stories with the other ladies, while eating cakes (it was also a Myton Hospice coffee morning).

Strangely, for me, I had more nerves around having make-up applied, as opposed to stripping down to my underwear! I had my hair done in ‘Marilyn Curls’ and my eye make-up applied. The issue for me came when we were deciding on lipstick colour. Red was the colour of my underwear and I had painted my nails a glossy scarlet colour. It seemed a bit of a no-brainer that I should choose bright red! As someone who rarely wears any make-up, this moved up my level of discomfort considerably.

I then went into the dressing room to put on the seamed stockings, suspender belt and bra. I was nervous about how they would look, as I struggled finding bras that fitted well and always tended to wear padded ones, to make me look and feel a bit more substantial. This one had no padding and was a very different design to my usual attire. Helena had already collated everyone’s measurements and they fitted perfectly and felt soft and comfortable.

Adding bright red stilettos to the situation did nothing to make me feel more at ease. Blanche and Helena, though did that and with their coaching and empathy. I stepped into the role of ‘Retro Diva’ to pose for a variety of photos.

I got to see these photos last week. I viewed them with my boyfriend, who thought they were stunning – sexy, yet stylish. They were, but it’s crazy how I focussed in on my perceived imperfections. I am sure if I was looking at someone else’s photos, I wouldn’t notice.

Between us, we selected our favourites, one of which would be chosen for the calendar. As a ‘thank you’ for being part of the project, Blanche gave us one photo to keep. If you’re interested in what I and the other ladies look like as we developed an increased level of confidence, you can see us by purchasing a calendar, which is great value at just £10. Plus you’ll also be supporting two well deserving charities.

These can be purchased by following the link – https://www.retrorosie.co.uk/wonder-women-of-warwickshire-calendar-2019-5554-p.asp

It was a fantastic project to be a part of and a great realiser that stepping through that feeling of discomfort can bring fantastic results.