Eating Disorder Recovery Photoshoot |
Lauren Bersaglio of Libero Magazine Review
Of all mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality.
As someone who is a survivor after a decade long struggle, it has become my passion and mission in life to photograph and empower women who have experienced eating disorders.
I know firsthand how much a portrait photoshoot can impact your body image and self esteem while going through the recovery process. It is also through my Recovery Sessions that I am able to help lower the stigma and shame that goes hand in hand with eating disorders.
Today actually marks the 6th year of my own recovery from anorexia.
There is no way that is more fitting to celebrate that, than sharing the story of one of the amazing women I have photographed on her own recovery journey.
I am incredibly honoured to share with you all my interview with the absolutely gorgeous Lauren Bersaglio and a few of her session images.
Lauren is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of Libero Magazine, a non-profit organization that is focused on providing resources to men and women who are living with eating disorders and other mental health issues.
Thank you so much Lauren for being so candid and open in sharing with us all a part of your story!
Chelsey Luren Portraits: Can you tell us a bit about your ED history?
Lauren Bersaglio: I developed an eating disorder in my late high school years. I struggled with a combination of Anorexia, Bulimia, Orthorexia, and exercise addiction. Most people thought my eating disorder spawned from the fact I didn’t like my body; however, this was not the case. There was a much deeper issue at play: I didn’t like myself and obsessing over my body was the best distraction and coping mechanism I could find for my depression and lack of self-worth.
CLP: What was the turning point in your choosing recovery - what made you decide that you wanted recovery?
LB: The longer I waited to get help, the deeper I fell and the more my eating disorder struggles consumed me. It got to the point where I was living but not thriving. I fell deeper into depression and became suicidal. One day I faced a turning point. A mentor of mine called it a crossroads. I had to decide: “To be, or not to be.” I gave it a lot of thought and ultimately decided I wanted to be. I wanted to be alive, to thrive, and to live. I realized then that my eating disorder behaviors were counter-productive to this goal. They were slowly killing me. It was then I decided to get help and enter into recovery.
CLP: Is there one word that represents what eating disorder recovery means to you?
LB: FREEDOM! (aka Libero!)
Oh this note, my favorite quote of all time comes from author Anne Lamott:
“Only freedom from fears, freedom from lies, can make us beautiful, and keep us safe.”
CLP: What are you most proud of in your recovery journey?
LB: I am most proud of my ability to see the path I was headed down and decide I wanted more for myself and for my life. I am also really proud I was able to take something that was so negative in my life (my eating disorder struggles) and turn it into something positive by sharing my story with others, and ultimately starting Libero Magazine so others could also have a voice and experience freedom for themselves.
CLP: What is the best recovery advice you have ever received?
LB: “Use reason.” As a reason and logic-driven individual, I’ve found attacking negative thoughts and compulsive, unhealthy behaviors with reason to be highly effective. The concept is closely related to DBT techniques. Whenever my mind is headed in an unhealthy direction, I step back and use reason to steer myself back onto a healthier path. Examples can be: “Will binging really make me feel less lonely? The obvious answer is no, but calling up a friend will, so that’s a better solution.” “If I engage in this activity, I know I am only going to feel worse, not better, and therefore it is not worth allowing my thoughts to even be tempted to go there.” This has worked for me on many occasions and ultimately helped me overcome addictive and compulsive behaviors.
CLP: Do you have a go-to self care activity?
LB: Pilates, writing, spending time with my furbaby Zoey, and playing Nintendo.
CLP: What made you decide to do a boudoir session?
LB: I spent so many years ashamed of my body and afraid of being in front of the camera. The idea of doing a boudoir session was both frightening and exhilarating. I’ve always loved lingerie from a fashion perspective and boudoir, to me, is about loving and honoring your body and not feeling shame over it. Having a boudoir shoot gave me the opportunity to celebrate not only my recovery, but myself.
CLP: How did a boudoir session change/shift your body image or perception of self?
LB: I learned a lot through doing this photo shoot. I was able to see how far I’ve come (there was a time where I’d shy away from any cameras) and also to practice positive affirmations. This was the first official photo shoot I’ve ever done, and obviously I was nervous and not very natural. Having someone there with me to coach me through and help me discover the things I love about myself and discover how to interpret those things to the camera was empowering.
There were also things about the photo shoot that pointed to some wounds that still haven’t healed. This, for me, was a reminder that loving your body (and yourself) is an ongoing process. Rather than being something we “learn” to do; I see loving your body as something you choose to do every single day.
CLP: Would you recommend a boudoir session for anybody else who is recovering from an eating disorder?
LB: Having a boudoir photoshoot is empowering and exciting. However, it also can be triggering. It’s all about knowing where you are at in your recovery and deciding what is best for you at this time. For me, this was the right timing; however, if you would have asked me a few years ago, I would have said the timing was wrong. It’s not simply a matter of “if” a session is right for you, but also a matter of “when” and that’s something only you can know for yourself.
CLP: Do you have any other thoughts about your boudoir session that you would like to share?
LB: Choose good music that makes you feel empowered and reminds you of your own inner strength. For me this meant Christina Aguilera “Stripped” on a constant loop (sorry, Chelsey! *wink*)
My heart is so full of gratitude for being able to work alongside such amazing women. The stories of others who have gone through their recovery journey is a testament to their strength of character and ability to overcome.
Thank you Lauren for having come forward with your story. I am so honoured to be able to know you and to be able to share it with my audience here.
If you yourself are on your going through your recovery journey, I would love to photograph you. A Recovery Session is the perfect way to celebrate your own accomplishments and hard work.
Email me (email@example.com) or give me a call (778-385-2225) to book your free consultation.