Bikinis & Body Confidence

I love Malia Mills and her message, “Love Thy Differences”, because we both have the same mission around empowering women in their bodies, we just have a different creative outlets for it. Malia designs these gorgeous bikinis, swimsuits, and clothing for all women’s bodies. And I take women through a process in which their true essence shines – in the healing work we do together and during the photoshoot. Malia’s tool is design, my tool is the camera.

I took the trip to NYC this May and happily, a date with Malia was on my list of adventures. I took the train from my Aunt’s upper West Side home all the way to Industry City, Brooklyn. I arrived at this massive concrete building with huge dock doors and 5 sets of double staircases to climb before reaching Malia’s headquarters. Malia’s sister, Carol Mills, opened the door and let me in. I was met with a huge open space, amazing textiles, and windows lining the walls allowing this amazing natural light to drench the studio.

I must say, that even though I do this work for myself all the time, I was still really nervous about getting in front of a camera in a bathing suit.

For me, photography becomes a process of really deep self healing; doing something uncomfortable and coming out on the other side of it and seeing how beautiful you are.

So there I was, standing in a bikini, lighting all around me and a photographer in front of me. Malia was over by the computer watching the images roll in. In-between shots Malia would tell me how great I looked and tell me what to do next. She directed the whole shoot and it was amazing to see her in her element of creation. She made me feel so comfortable and really confident in my body.


The photographic process can be uncomfortable, but in those places of discomfort I have learned more about myself and I am able to heal the insecurities that otherwise might just stay in the shadows.

Being in a bikini in front of a camera is never an easy place to be, but these images came out better than any other images that have been taken of me. When I came home I immediately gathered my favorites and had an album made with them, because I knew if I didn’t do it, it would never happen and I’d regret it. Being in vulnerable and raw situations can be really intimidating; and at the same time I was able to celebrate something in myself and wanted to make sure I captured and harnessed that before it went back into the shadows.

So as I think back on this transformative experience, I reflect on the butterflies in my stomach before I changed into my first bikini. I am able to witness the transformation that took place in Malia’s studio that day. I allowed myself to receive the gift that I give to my clients. I allowed Malia to guide me, and I confidently rocked the camera. The result, was better than I could have ever imagined. I saw my confidence staring me back in the face, I saw my amazing, curvy body in front of me. And there I was, Melissa, my full, joyful, confident self, shining back at me.

This is what I wish for every woman, and what Malia strives for her clients to feel when wearing her brand, and what I hope my clients see in themselves after working with me. It’s that women empower other women and that we offer ourselves opportunities that allow us to see our full beauty and selves.


Do you offer yourself regular opportunities to see your own beauty?


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