I wrote this post back in 2013. I was so much younger then and re-reading this my heart hurts for how affected I was by someone else’s attitude and words. However, I am also proud of my reaction and thought to put what happened into writing. Because this story resonated with SO many more women than I realized. I didn’t write this for people to tell me how great I am. I wrote this for other women, who’ve been made to feel not enough, can know they are not alone…and of course they are indeed enough. You don’t have to be impeccably dressed or made up 24/7. You don’t have to be glamorous. You don’t have to be any one thing to be in my world or to be enough. My favorite thing about what I do is meeting people right where they are, connecting and seeing them in their best light and showing that image back to them in a powerful way. I remain committed to that.

So now I share my original blog entitled “My Pretty Woman Experience”

We all remember that classic scene from Pretty Woman, right? Where Julia Roberts gets denied and shamed out of a posh Beverly Hills store because they don’t think she is the type of woman who can and should be in their store? If you don’t remember here is the clip:

Well today I kinda had my own “Pretty Woman” experience… Or shall we say NOT-so-pretty-woman experience.

I had heard of a lingerie store in town that I did not knew existed. I am always looking for the BEST lingerie stores to refer my boudoir clients to. In a dream world, there would be a store here in town with great selection and helpful sales people who I could collaborate with, so I know if I refer my clients to them, my clients will have a great shopping experience and leave with just the right items for a shoot. I just wanted to check the store out and see what they had, maybe introduce myself but it was mostly a stop-in-see-what-you-got outing. Was I dressed up? No. I was in the middle of a busy day. This morning I threw on a (what I think is) cute romper from Forever21 and I haven’t changed since. Was I in make up? No. The fact is despite having a love of glamour, I am also a no-muss-no-fuss kind of gal, and most days I don’t bother with make up. The clerk asked why I was there and looking for and I explained what I do, showed her one of my cards with photos on it, and explained I was just checking out the store’s selection. That’s when it happened.

She told me **I** was actually the  one in need of make over and I should be practicing what I preach. According to her, I was not made up nice enough to be introducing myself to another business  and looked like I was 8 year old the way I was dressed. According to her, I should also have taken the time to wear make up, because it’s not polished to introduce yourself to a business without wearing make up. She said I should know better. And maybe I should have.

BUT WHEN IS IT OKAY TO TELL A WOMAN SHE IS NOT GLAMOROUS ENOUGH?

The whole experience got me thinking about my shoots and why I do what I do. To be clear, I do not shoot glamour and boudoir because I think every woman needs to dress and look her best on a daily basis. No, quite the opposite. I understand that women have a lot on their plate. We are employees, business owners, volunteers, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, wives, girlfriends, lovers, caretakers and more. There are days we don’t put make up  on, eat lunch till three, or ever get  out of the yoga clothes (yoga clothes I should add that we never actually got around to doing yoga in that day). I understand that. For most modern women, every day is not a red carpet experience.

And yet, I believe that is what most of us our longing for. For one special day to be made to feel beautiful. To be celebrated. To be dressed up as close to a Hollywood starlet as possible. And to have a magazine worthy photograph taken of us to remember the whole experience by. So when we have that day where we aren’t feeling enough, or someone has cut us down, we can look back at that picture and remember that fabulous woman is in there all the time. And that you are beautiful and should never forget that.

So that’s why I do what I do. Maybe a glamour/boudoir shoot seems superficial on the surface. But it is truly about empowering the inner beauty. It is truly about celebrating who you are. And it is truly about loving yourself– loving yourself dressed up and loving yourself dressed down.

I want to give every woman this experience. I want to give every woman this powerful message. And I never ever ever want to make another woman feel the way the employee at the lingerie store made feel today.

Here is a picture of me today after the whole experience. Yup, it’s a selfie. Trying to smile through the salty tears I had just shed. Trying to remember that I am beautiful and stylish and sophisticated and mature no matter what anyone else thinks or says. I am showing it to you to keep it real. This is who I am. I am not a glamour girl 24/7 and I am definitely not perfect. Most days I am just Ashleigh, trying to conquer the day, and trying to take the best  care of my clients, friends, family and cats the best I can. That’s who I am. And that is beautiful.

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PS- after this whole thing happened, the friend I was with contacted the actual store owner and told her what went down. The owner was EXTREMELY nice and personally called me to apologize for her employee and affirmed that she owns a lingerie store to also help women feel beautiful and was really upset that this happened in her store. I truly appreciate that kind of customer service and try my very best to give that same care and service to my clients as well.