Crystal Alexis from Florida is CEO of Eyekonik Beauty and an inspiring professional model that regularly posts empowering shots on her Instagram feed. In this blog series, she opens up about her personal experience with body positivity, how she was diagnosed with Vitiligo and how she has overcome these struggles and learnt to love and embrace her body.
For many women, stripping off and baring all in a boudoir-style photoshoot can be incredibly daunting; what gave you the confidence to take this step?
I did my first boudoir shoot about 5 years ago with a local photographer here in Florida. It was my first time wearing lingerie so the thought of me doing a whole photoshoot in it was terrifying. I still remember being completely uncomfortable while trying to pose and I was just A MESS!! All I could focus on was covering my belly, concealing my breasts, and somehow making sure I didn’t look fat. Thank God that she was a female photographer and she empathized with me A LOT! She turned on some of my favorite R&B music and told me “Just Relax… You’re doing fine.” Once I stopped focusing on how silly I must have looked in the lingerie, I was able to let go and just be in the moment.
It was an amazing feeling because I told myself that even if I hated the images I felt damned good about myself after that shoot. At worse, I could just delete them and nobody had to know about it. But I was super proud because I had done something for myself that I always wanted to do and I conquered one of my fears. When I received my images, I was completely blown away by the essence of my womanhood that the photographer was able to capture. The mood, the angles, the femininity……. Wow! I looked AMAZING!!! I didn’t recognize myself because I definitely wasn’t looking at the same girl that walked in that studio that day. That was the beginning of my infatuation with showing skin. LOL!!!
Although we all have flaws and can struggle with self-love, how do you feel your personal experience has been with your image, confidence, and body-positivity? Is there anything, in particular, you have struggled with, and if so how did you overcome these struggles?
I definitely had a few struggles! I was a tomboy growing up. I would only wear clothes that were 2 or 3 sizes too big, sneakers, and jackets in 95 degree Florida weather. I’m sure people thought I was nuts but I was cool as long as all my flaws were covered up. I wore these types of clothes well into high school and never wore a dress nor shorts until my senior year.
I got into a relationship with my high school sweetheart at the age of 17 and he was both verbally and physically abusive. I lived through that for 4 years. My next relationship wasn’t abusive but the guy was a douche and he cheated on me for 3 years.. in my own house. As you can imagine that did a number on my self-esteem. I finally decided that I needed to get to know Crystal a little better and that being single was the best way to go.
I remained single until I learned to love myself. I started dating again at the age of 30. One week after my 30th birthday I was diagnosed with the rare skin condition called Vitiligo. It’s an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system kills off your melanocytes causing loss of pigment and resulting in white patches on your skin. I thought to myself, “This has GOT to be a joke!” It wasn’t. I have been living with Vitiligo now for 5 years and it has forced me to always remember who I am at my core. Every day I am learning things about myself on this quest to live more freely. I discovered that it does not matter how I look on the outside. What matters to me is how I feel and how I make others feel. I can finally say that after 35 years I am in love with Crystal Alexis!
What do you love most about taking part in sexier photoshoots? How do they make you feel?
I love the fact that I can put on a wig and some makeup and turn into whoever I want to be in that moment. Or, I can just be myself. The fun in that, is that my audience really doesn’t know who’s who. Role playing is just so invigorating and empowering for me!
Do you have anyone that inspired you to love yourself or helped you gain confidence throughout your modelling career?
My Mom’s oldest sister was tall, thin, and fair-skinned. She modelled all over the world when she was younger. Prior to her passing, she would bring over all kinds of fancy coats, hats, and purses for me to wear. I’d prance around the house and practice my runway walk for her. She would give me advice and tips and saying, “If modelling is what you want to do… THEN DO IT! And never give up.”
She was the one who promised me that if I took her advice, I would be known around the world. At that time I thought she was just doing what any Aunt should by encouraging me. I had no clue that I’d later walk runways in the US Virgin Islands and Indonesia and also be published online and in print in the U.S. and the U.K. Her words spoke life into my career and gave me hope. She was my greatest inspiration.
What advice would you give to anyone hesitant to trying a boudoir photoshoot, or even modelling in general?
My best advice is to JUST DO IT! Approach your fears head on and be true to yourself. Never try to be like or act like someone else. FIND YOUR MAGIC AND WORK IT! One of my favorite quotes is by Zig Zigler who says, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”