Looking Down the Lens at Myself | My Photo-shoot

by Marianne  - March 5, 2013

When I first decided to get another set of professional photos taken (before Christmas), I immediately started to worry about getting leaner again.  While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to look your best for photos like these, I know that my own tendency is to get annoyed at “having” to look a certain way in the fitness industry, and this makes me start out being really strict, but soon rebelling and going on the “anti-diet” and the “anti-program”.  One part of me wants to look “better” and the other part says “why should you” –> that second part knows that I would only do it to pander to an image created by the industry.

The fact is, I need to accept, that I look pretty good the way I am and I should be proud to display the results of my hard work, as it appears 90% of the year.  There are times I look leaner and times I don’t, so why put extra pressure on myself to be something I am not (90% of the time anyway).  The only time I ever feel unhappy at how I look is when I compare myself to others!

About a month before the shoot, a friend of mine (who is also in the fitness industry) was giving me advice on how to prepare for bikini shots and started telling me to: diet down, get rid of water-weight, get a tan and …. make sure the photographer had a good grasp of Photoshop  *brakes screech* Photoshop … as in I need someone who can airbrush??! :-/

Tempted? Yes!  Very tempted. But when I saw the photos, I was amazed that I really didn’t see anything I would be ashamed to show the world (ok, except one thing … my over-developed back muscle sticking out of my bra top that made me look weird at certain angles LOL). I’ll be totally honest that the one thing I was most worried about was my lower body and cellulite being really horrible and then me feeling I need to remove the evidence on the photo, so I wouldn’t horrify people in the fitness industry.  I became more worried that I’d give in to the temptation to look perfect, verses having cellulite!  What a crazy, warped feeling!

Guess what?  The photos all turned out amazing, without me feeling this way.  I now think my mind has a different image of what I look like compared to what I actually look like! If you look at the “imperfections”, your mind magnifies them x 10!  While I felt a bit uneasy seeing some of the photos, it was more to do with my facial expressions and odd body poses that made me cringe (I am not a natural model and the great photos were down to the photographer’s direction IMO).

When I see something I don’t like, I do have thoughts about getting them “fixed” and it is a battle I fight inside.  Can it be justified, since after all, I choose not to show all the unflattering poses, or ones with lighting issues.  Where do you draw the line?  I can’t judge anyone for getting themselves airbrushed, I don’t blame them at all for wanting to look perfect. What I blame is what makes us want to pretend we are perfect in the first place, when nobody is.  It’s natural to want people to see you at your best, but how far can you go without losing yourself and becoming nothing short of a liar.

Here is a little taster of one of my favorites. This photo has had nothing done to it and is just raw. While I love the effects that the photography process does (making the colours more edgy or grainy and ready to put on a poster), I also love to show what the original looks like.  This is me as I am, which should be enough, right?


How many of us nit-pick about the tiny little “imperfections” on our body that we fail to see the good stuff.  For example, this next one… The first time I saw it, my eyes went right for the mid-section because I didn’t like it. But after wising myself up, I saw me smiling and enjoying the fact that I am there to represent me! And who knows, maybe in the process help reassure other women, who have exactly the same fears and body hang-ups as me, that we won’t all hide everything with the airbrush!


It’s easy to make a snap judgement that someone who is “in shape” is 100% comfortable about how they look.  About 80% of the time, yes (in clothing), but how about those dreaded bikini moments, or when there’s a down-light?  It’s important to remember never to compare yourself with how someone looks, because that is not where we get our self-worth from anyway – believe me, I know!

Why am I writing all of this?  Because this was a moment in my life worth a little celebration. If anyone out there thinks that your body image issues go away once you lose fat, get fit or have the “ideal” body, you are wrong!

Body image is the domain of your mind and it is about self-love, self-acceptance, self-confidence and a little bit of a “screw the world” attitude!

I want to make a suggestion that we all try to feel good about how we wear our skin. It may be a temporary shell, but it has a beautiful purpose –> containing WHO we are! Look after it, love it and it will be a better home to your positive, inner self, who understands exactly the true source of your worth!





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  1. As a long time kettlebell fan but new subscriber to you, I wish to comment on this but do not want to come across as inappropriate! You look absolutely amazing in these photographs and I would imagine a great inspiration to your female followers! I really enjoy your workouts and reading your blogs, keep up the fantastic work you’re doing!

    Many Thanks


  2. Marianne, I am just seeing these. You look fabulous! Perfect I think. You should be so happy and content with yourself 🙂
    xoxo, Chanin

    1. Thanks, Chanin. I really am happy with how I look most of the time, but when you put yourself in the spotlight, the cracks in your confidence begin to show 🙂

    2. You shouldn’t lack confidence, you look great! It’s just goes to show what the right mental attitude and working out can do for you! Well done, I really enjoy your workouts, but only have the one kettlebell!
      Keep up the great work you do!

  3. I forgot to ask marianne.. What is it on the second picture ???!!

    Your right elbow is growing attached to your sweet belly-side !!!

    I hope it is fotoshopping in this case !! And do I see a tattoo !!

    1. I love Marianne’s perseverance and endurance. She has got this body with a lot of hard work!
      But I must agree that the second picture really looks photoshopped in the point Gert mentions… considering that I have been working with Photoshop for years, I must say that little detail shows the picture has been retouched…

        1. It’s on the inside of your right elbow, but I think that it’s the light source behind you that’s causing the optical illusion of it adjoining the side of your body, it’s the same one causing the lighter streak on your right leg!

        2. Marianne, I can tell you where….

          The second picture in which you have your left arm behind your head. Then look at the inside of your elbow of your right arm. Where your elbow is at your side it seems as your skin is glued to your side and pull your skin. I thougth,.. maybe it’s a reflection of the light but I think it’s not.. Just enlarge the picture as I did and then it’s more obviouss to see..

          1. Guys, there was no “retouching” done to these images! Some colour grading, that’s all. But, my body has not been “touched”. Why would I write an article about having images that are deliberately not retouched and then include examples that have been :-/

        3. And you indeed do not need it at all! 😀

          I really don’t want to be unfair. I was referring to an unusual merge between the right arm and the belly… the shadow gets interrupted abruptly and it merges with the belly. But relax, sometimes photos produce strange effects by themselves and one could swear they have been retouched. I guess this is the case here, so I am sorry for thinking it was retouched.

          Kudos for your hard work! That is actually what I would like to tell you here – instead of minding for the photo detail!
          Because of you I am investing in some kettlebells and in learning how to swing with proper form.


  4. Frankly my dear you are “renversante”. Look it up in the dictionary, you’ll see what I mean :).
    No need to change or hide anything. You’re true Marianne and your beauty also comes from that. I told you once that smile of yours is angel-like. I feel it’s warmth whenever I take a look at you. Thank you for sharing your trus self with us.

  5. Yeah great photos Marianne, you have a lovely smile. Thanks for sharing them untouched – and you have fab abs, I could say I’m envious but after the pep talk you’ve just posted which lots of us need to hear I’m rethinking and trying not to compare. It is so tempting to think certain things sometimes but i like what you said our “skin may only be a temporary shell but it has a beautiful purpose containing who we are”.

    ‘You are valuable, you are loved, and someone knows you even better than you know yourself. There is an image and likeness imprinted upon your being that is the basis of your value … a value beyond your wildest dreams.’ Andre Rabe

  6. congratulations Marianne! (applause…) all your hard work and dedication is paying off ’cause you look smokin’ and happy too.
    way to go!

  7. Marianne,

    First of all you look ROCKIN’ !!

    Amazing post – so inspirational!! Being an insanely busy student and still trying to stay fit and be healthy while battling the stress can be SO hard and it can be so easy to get down on myself and how I look because I just can’t train as much as I’d like. Seeing how awesome you look and knowing you too still have hang ups and personal battles really inspires me to keep at it and stay strong – mind AND body.


  8. 10 years ago I was asked to join 10 young woman as the male Counter-part in a 10 evenings body-massage-course.

    Looking at the second picture… I would really like to have you on the towel next to me.. Marrianne.. Your soft full muscles around your hips in shiny oil,…. my hands coming from your shoulders going along below on your warm bumpy full butt !!!

    Raw picture are always better, Marrianne. Airbrushed pictures are really boring.. one after the other.. all the same.. We want real woman. No dolls !!

    1. Gert, I see you are just being complimentary, albeit a tad inappropriate with the oil and all :-/

      The final paragraph if your comment I totally agree with!

      1. Marianne, the oil would be very appropriate in itself,.. after your hard work on your sexy glutes because it will contain “Arnica”. I remember from the massage-course that many woman had it in their massage-oil as it was said that arnica is good for muscles !!!

        I read your article again. It’s complete written with good perspectives for your readers. The practice in everybody’s real life is the next or FIRST.. mental action, reflexion.

        You’re writing about your own practice is clear. I read a conflict in your mind.. You’re insecure about your fullness in your hips-area. Your exercise-program is focussed for a big part on that.. I must say.. I’m the man who likes the trained girls. Speedskating girls and sprint-running girls (black girls are more talented/gifted)… So, you’re spot on, for me.
        But maybe there is a woman in you that knows that in average, slim is the fashion of the average eye !!! Bigger asses are associated with obese.. What completely different but what’s in the eye of the watcher.. on your hips.
        In my own training as a man.. I don’t do much pressing work.. because I don’t like to big on my chest.. For the average eye, that is not training-oriented at all.. It is just the chest of a big fat man.. I like the atletic body-type more.. I don’t like full chests..
        Maybe it’s two things of the same… When I speak to other guys in hte gym.. Most of them say,.. that chest is what they most like.. Then I see them walking with fat-chests… just like the obese fat-man.. Okay,.. I can see the difference between an obese man and a bodybuilders-chest !!! But my mothers always sees a fat man with boobs !! haha

        I’ll keep your picture on my favorits Marianne. That’s appropriate. After all,.. that’s what you want. To be seen as sexy as you are. But don’t make a mental job of it.. As I have told you in the past.. You are beautifull even without the hard work.. Just do what you like.

        But I know.. As a trainer you have to show some results.. As a trainer with quotes of strong curves.. You have to walk the talk !! Or change your beliefs. Or bring subconsciouss and consciousness in line.. Difficult in a society where slim is in model-fashion !!! And talking about losing weight is 90 % of the talk in fitness.. Training for bigger asses will always be a contradiction !! I think…

        Isn’t it..

  9. Hi Marianne!
    You look beautiful in all the pictures. My favourite is the first one, with your face. Your smile shows your beautiful personality.
    Cheers, Kirsten

  10. Hi everyone,

    I just want to say a big thank you for all your comments. I was pretty nervous about posting about this, but I felt it was important to share my perspective on this.


  11. Hi Mariannina,

    I’ve always appreciated your honesty, your “niceness” and your candour. You look really great in these photos and the only thing that I regret to say is that your glutes are unfortunately too flat. 🙂


  12. Marianne, you’re such a beautiful person inside and out! The pictures are gorgeous of course, but I always love reading what you have to say…you’re incredibly brave and insightful!

  13. I am always a little hesitant to post on these issues in case I am seen as a sleaze bag but you are a stunning looking woman ,you are an example of strength and fitness

  14. OMG your pics are stunning! I think you are the vision of perfection!! Seriously,you have the figure I’d die to have; perfect balance of muscles and femininity! I/m sure glad you’re starting to see it:)

  15. Marianne~you look amazing. Really! I was looking at your mid-section thinking THAT is what I am trying to achieve! (well, the same could be said for your whole body really 🙂

    But your post reads so true and helps me look differently at my own imperfections that I think I have~ But then I also think ~ hey, I look pretty darn good for 40 (almost 41)! I need to own it and be happy in the skin i’m in and be thankful for my good health (#1 priority-right?)!

    Now i’m off to loosen up with some yoga-tune-up and then hit the KBs with one of your many workouts (haven’t decided which one yet)- but it’s got to be one that makes my husband and his friend whimper in defeat. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and pictures with us all!
    Truly inspiring!

  16. LOVE the article, the pictures, your whole website! 🙂 You look amazing on both bodyshot pictures, but my ultimate favorite is the first one of your face. Your smile is so amazing and you look so young, fresh and healthy and happy and glowing… 🙂 I am hoping to be soon able to take a bikini shoot of myself that I will be proud of :))

  17. You look amazing in all those photos, you are a beautiful woman. The picture on top, your smile shines right through. The bikini shots are classic and elegant and sexy.
    You go girl. I also love your back don’t change it.


  18. I agree. The shots are really impressive. You look more muscled than in your videos and previous pictures. The really great thing about your shape is the functional movement you have combined with strength.

    I get the reason for the stilettos but for me they look a bit out of place – not a criticism, just a personal thing.

    Well done 🙂

  19. You look awesome, Marianne! I wish I could put on muscle like you do.. It’s taken me a year just to put on about 2lbs of muscle! But the most important question…. Did you get to keep those sexy heels?!? 😉

  20. You look stunning, Marianne! You’re right though, it’s so easy to over-exaggerate and get hung up on flaws. Like you said you didn’t like your mid-section, but I think it looks fantastic! x

  21. Marianne, you look absolutely amazing. It is funny when I first saw the second picture from your photo shoot, I thought wow her midsection looks great. I saw the picture before I read your comment. It is interesting how we are often harder on ourselves than others are. You look truly beautiful in all of the pictures.

  22. No need to worry, my dear, you look absolutely awesome!

    Ah the perfection thing. There was someone in my life who always wanted and forced me to be “perfect”. Just last night I realised: in this person’s eyes, I am the ultimate imperfection – but I never felt better and my life would not work any other way. Though I felt quite relieved, it’s hard to let go of the things you were told years and years and years.

    Hope to see more of your photos 🙂

  23. You really look unbelievable on those pics…
    And you can rest assured… no sane guy on this planet will ever find any “imperfection” on such a body & such a lovable face. x

  24. You look beautiful in all of these! I am so thankful for your honesty and integrity related to body image. You represent yourself well! I am still working on my body image issues and it was very encouraging/refreshing to read this post. Thank you!!

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