Kimmay Caldwell is the ultimate boss babe and a total breath of fresh air. Simultaneously embodying Old Hollywood glamour and radical modern hipness with a complete down-to-earth vibe, Kimmay lives and breathes the mantra that she and I here at Andreea B. Ballen Photography both share: Empowered Women Empower Women.
NYC Boudoir + Personal Branding Photographer | Say 'Hurray!' to All of the You: Self-love Coach Hurray Kimmay's Expert Tips on Loving Yourself
NYC Boudoir + Personal Branding Photographer | Say 'Hurray!' to All of the You: Self-love Coach Hurray Kimmay's Expert Tips on Loving Yourself
Kimmay Caldwell is the ultimate boss babe and a total breath of fresh air. Simultaneously embodying Old Hollywood glamour and radical modern hipness with a complete down-to-earth vibe, Kimmay lives and breathes the mantra that we both share: Empowered Women Empower Women.
And, just like my mission here at Andreea B. Ballen Photography to empower all women to love themselves just the way they are, Kimmay too wants you to love ALL that you are, down to every bit of your body that you have been graced with. Just as I initially hadn’t, Kimmay Caldwell didn't set out to be a body love advocate, but now it's her mission to love herself and empower other women to do the same.
Before I even get the pleasure and honor of sitting down with Kimmay in the posh Mid-town Manhattan The Gregory hotel to photograph her in some gorgeous lingerie that she is ambassador for, she first insists that I capture and show all of her, in all its truth. 'You can't airbrush me,' she says. Did I mention how refreshing it is to actually hear that? I love her already.
I myself never do any physical manipulation in my photographs anyway -- well, not more than clearing a skin blemish here or a stray hair there. I want women to look at their photos and recognize the beautiful that they are, and not feel more guilt and shame looking at a version of themselves they don't recognize.
'I want to see all of myself: cellulite, parts that were not always my favorite but that I've learned to embrace, all of me,' Kimmay further proclaims. Well, I say, hurray to that, Kimmay! And I really, truly mean it.
A woman who embraces and honors all of her parts, and celebrates every bit of herself as worthy, is a woman I love, admire, and definitively want to surround myself with. And so should you -- because she, I, we want to see that be YOU (hurray if that is you already)!
Kimmay admits that it's taken her time to work up to this self love, and it resonates with me.
I recognize the struggle, as I myself have struggled (I was on my first diet at 11!), and hating my thighs has been most of my life's past passion until recent acceptance. It's become more clear than ever how important self acceptance and love is, as I have to teach my own daughter to accept and love the body she's inherited from me (that at 10 she is already looking down on, and asking for guidance on acceptance for).
Resoundingly, though, I recognize the struggle to love oneself from just about EVERY woman I photograph -- EVERY WOMAN who's been subliminally (or overtly) taught the self-criticism, the body hate, every beautiful, fierce woman who sees herself less than the truly stunning that she is, that I see her as.
So, I am beyond awed and grateful that the woman now facing my camera's love is a woman full of self love and self acceptance -- a woman who like me, wants to empower other women to love and accept themselves as well.
But really, who is Kimmay Caldwell, and why should you listen to what she has to say about loving yourself?
Kimmay is a a self-love coach and Undergarment educator who supports people to say HURRAY inside, outside, and underneath™, and has over over 14 years of experience of getting intimate with people from cup sizes A to N as expert bra fitter. Based in NYC, she travels around the world to spread her empowering message of self-love, and how to use the everyday ritual of putting on a bra to uncover your confidence, stand in your power, and learn to love yourself. You may have seen her in one of over 100 press outlets, including The Martha Stewart Show, The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, and more. Or perhaps you caught her teaching bra fitting workshops at the largest lingerie expo in the world. You can connect with Kimmay @Hurraykimmay, and always find her at www.HurrayKimmay.com.
But right now, you can see what she has to say to some of my burning questions:
Andreea B. Ballen: As a busy, influential Boss Babe, what does self-love look like to you?
Hurray Kimmay: "Self love can look different from moment to moment, and it's propelled for me by the constant question and honest answer to: ‘what is the most loving thing to do?’ I often suggest to my coaching clients and fans to start where I did: with my body! So being kinder to my body - in the way I talk to it, rest or push it, dress it, and feed it. Building a loving and kind relationship with yourself inside, outside, and underneath takes time and is constantly evolving."
Andreea B. Ballen: How do you make time to incorporate self-love into you busy life?
Hurray Kimmay: "I start with the basics and do my best to set boundaries and loving expectations within myself and those around me. That can look like being kind to my body with words, what I eat, or how much rest I get. Then I set aside time to work with coaches, gather with the women in my community (or host my monthly women's circles), and work solo to love myself. As cliche as it sounds, baths are my favorite way to love myself. I use lots of candles and soothing music, and I often pray and surrender my worries in the tub. It's a powerful time and I have strict DO NOT DISTURB instructions for my husband (and cat)!"
Kimmay Caldwell: “Self love starts with love, kindness and understanding, beginning with our inside & radiating out.”
Andreea B. Ballen: Why would you recommend self-love to other women?
Hurray Kimmay: "Loving and understanding yourself opens up the opportunity for more love and understanding for others. And we are desperate for more love, kindness, and understanding in this world. It starts within and radiates out."
Andreea B. Ballen: How would you define 'body positivity'? And how is that important to you personally? professionally? universally?
Hurray Kimmay: "The term 'body positivity' and the movement that followed was started to include and encourage people with bodies that are not generally accepted or included, mostly the plus size community. That portion of our culture needs that support so desperately! And there are people with traditionally accepted body shapes or weights who still struggle with loving their bodies, like I did.
I am not a part of the plus size community because I wear a size four and can shop at most stores. So I use the terms 'body acceptance,' 'confidence,' or 'love' for my own journey.
Loving and accepting my body was a big door open into loving all parts of myself. I didn't set out to be a body love advocate. And years ago I was the least qualified person since I hated my body so much.
But that's all changed now! I went from not showing my legs in shorts for years or letting my midriff show as a younger person, to lovingly revealing myself in hundreds of thousands of images and in the media.
One reason this means so much to me is because I know how hard it was on me as a young woman, I and want to help young girls and people love their bodies. One such young person whom I love dearly came to me at age 5 and said she said I was a skinny and she was a fatty. My heart broke into pieces because I knew that "fatty" to her meant bad. It means ugly. It meant less worthy of love. It meant less valuable. And that's just NOT true. She, young girls like her, and my younger self are why I do what I do."
“REAL beauty comes from loving yourself”
— HURRAY KIMMAY
Andreea B. Ballen: In our photoshoot together, you definitely channel a very gorgeous, old Hollywood vibe. What great advice do you think an old Hollywood (40's - 60's era) diva could give today's modern woman, and vice versa?
Hurray Kimmay: "What am amazing question! I do love the classic Hollywood glamour style, so much. And I am also grateful that I was not born in that era. We've come a long way as a culture, and as women especially.
As a feminist, I am so grateful for the strides that we've made in gender equality (and see the steps we still need to take).
I think a classic diva would suggest that women of today's era explore the art of getting gussied up. We live in a casual culture and I totally love it... and there's something really special about taking great care of your clothes, your hair, your undergarments, and dressing to impress. Even if it's not for anyone else to see. The simple act of putting in the effort can make a huge difference in your whole day.
In addition, I think she'd tell her to own her power. Because she has so much right now, and it set up for success in so many more ways than she ever could have dreamed.
And I think a woman of today would tell a 50's diva to take small steps every day to stand in her power as a woman so she can pave the way for the future. I think she'd tell her thank you for those steps and for her bravery."
Andreea B. Ballen: You are on a mission to make other women feel comfortable in their own skin, and look gorgeous doing it! Hurray!!! What inspired you to embark on this mission? What have been the biggest challenges along the way? The biggest wins/accomplishments?
Hurray Kimmay: "It started when I was a bra fitter in 2005 and saw real human bodies, instead of airbrushed images, in person. It helped me see the beauty in others and myself, and realize that things like the cellulite and stretch marks I had were not ugly.
Real beauty comes from loving yourself.
I also saw how much better I felt and how my life blossomed once I started being kinder to myself and my body. So I started using the bra fitting room as a way to help other people see THEIR beauty and love their bodies.
One of the biggest challenges has been my background. I grew up in a very conservative home and modesty was the best policy. Breaking through the shame I felt of my body's natural "imperfections" was tough, but the shame of my body being too sexy or too much was actually scarier.
I never thought I'd be photographed in my underwear, but it was a step in my own journey to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I started with fuller coverage, retro swimsuits first on my site and in O Magazine. I still remember one of the photo assistants saying I was so brave to be photographed in my swimsuit, and to hang out in my two piece on set without a robe. I remember thinking how much self love went into my ability to do so, and thanking myself for being so kind to myself.
When I did my first boudoir shoot I felt so scared! Now it's like just another Tuesday to stand up in my underwear. I remind myself that it's an act of love. The feedback I get are big wins - not because people think I'm beautiful (I already know that, and welcome their affirmation but don't need their validation), but because they say I encourage them to see THEIR beauty. The thanks I get for showing up fully keeps me going. I truly believe that when we show up fully, love ourselves, and shine bright, we give other people the permission or reminder to do the same."
Andreea B. Ballen: What advice do you have for other women who are looking to inspire other women? To other women looking to become Boss Babes themselves?
Hurray Kimmay: "First, do the work in yourself. You can't talk the talk if you don't walk the walk.
Then, for those who want to start a business or show up big time, get support.
Encircle yourself with people who will inspire, challenge, and encourage you and have their hearts in the right place. A coach, a group of women in business going through the same thing, events, networking, etc. all add up so that you're not in this alone."
Andreea B. Ballen: You have been photographed in lingerie all over the world! What was your most favorite place to be photographed in lingerie, and why? How does that place differ from here (NYC? US) in its views on lingerie, and/or on women in lingerie?
Hurray Kimmay: "Oh my goodness how do I choose?
I started the #HurrayVacay trip to help show people that they can invite the feeling of vacation into their everyday lives as a form of self care. It has taken me to places like a pristine beach in Tulum, Mexico, paddle boarding in my Grandparent's stomping ground in Puerto Rico, walking in French lingerie in front of Norte Dame in Paris, doing yoga on a roof overlooking a lake and two volcanos in Guatemala, strutting my stuff in LA, in Florida from Miami to Disney World Orlando, and more.
They each had their amazing views! And Paris, of course, was amazing. I think I am especially fond of Paris, because it's where I fell in love even deeper with myself. I will be in Paris three times this year. I'm a little obsessed. In fact, this month I'm revealing my first ever empowering and self love retreat, and I'm taking an intimate group of women to ... Paris! I can't wait!"
Andreea B. Ballen: Why should a woman want to be photographed in lingerie, or the equivalent of, at least once in her lifetime?
Hurray Kimmay: "I say do whatever feels empowering for you.
And give boudoir photography a shot. Just like when wearing lingerie, the experience is powerful whether you share it with someone or not.
Seeing yourself in professional images, turned on, feeling amazing, showing up as your most sensual and beautiful self is a rare treat. It opens up possibilities in how you see yourself, and just how powerful, beautiful, and courageous you are. And that leads to taking more risks, honoring yourself, and treating yourself well. I am including a photoshoot in my Paris retreat for this exact reason.
Andreea B. Ballen: You and I agree that what 'lingerie' can mean here in the US today is vastly different than what 'lingerie' can and does mean in other parts of the world, or even here in the US in the past. So, what should a woman universally think of when she thinks of 'lingerie' -- and why should she want to embrace lingerie in her life?
Hurray Kimmay: "The word "lingerie" in the USA means sexy underwear and getups specifically meant for seduction or sex.
I have a more open view of lingerie. I think your t-shirt bra or a glittering French lace chemise can be lingerie.
The thing is the everyday act of supporting and adorning yourself with intention is the best way to start your day.
I don't care if you wear a bra or not. But if you do, I want you to make a loving and informed choice. And I want you to wear something that supports the version of you you want to be. Maybe it's sexy, successful, powerful, loving, or fearless.
Whatever it is, you can use lingerie to dress the part underneath and love on yourself."
Andreea B. Ballen: If you would be stranded on Gilligan's Island, which lingerie would you want to make sure you have with you, and why?
Hurray Kimmay: "OMG this question!
Well I'm tempted to say some cute 50's styles because of that time period of that show. LOL.
And then I'm thinking survivor mode and what sports bra and quick drying underwear should I have?
But if I'm being honest, I would want to wear the things that make me feel empowered and alive, and like the amazing woman that I am.
Right now I'm obsessed with so many brands and styles, and have a special fondness for companies that mix support and style. The lingerie I'm wearing in these photos are perfect examples! (FYI I'm wearing 32DD and Medium in the images: Bodysuit by Tutti Rouge Bra and high waist panty from Panache. Bra and panty from Implicite and romper from Tobi)
And I think if I had to choose one it would be the Saga set I wore in Paris from Simone Perele. Wearable, supportive, and gorrrrrgeous."
Hurray!!! and a huge thanks to Kimmay for being so generous with her advice, for all that she is and all that she does to support and empower women -- and for letting us know about these amazing (and great fitting) lingerie pieces!!!Are YOU yourself curious about an empowering boudoir photo shoot for yourself (perhaps to see just why you should love yourself that much more)? Contact me. Let's have a quick chat so I can answer all of your burning questions and schedule a fun photoshoot!