Donna Marie

Hertfordshire, UK

You see lockdown made me do it…

It made me take a deep journey inwards, to go deep into self inquiry and turn the sabotaging relationship with myself on its head and truly find deep self love.
Considering I’ve been through several traumas, breakdowns and battles with mental health, abuse and several attempts at suicide, I realised at the end of December 2019 that my life was going to change once and for all after embarking on a deep transformation through my yoga teacher training in 2019. My life was already rapidly changing for the better.
I started to unbecome what I was not and truly heal from these traumas.
But come 2020, I felt I wasn’t done, I wasn’t where I wanted to be and I took a chance to
start all over again.

I met Julian Knopf of Gander photography at a networking meeting at which he was showing
his boudoir work to the group, part of me was intrigued but part of me wanted to run… But I knew there was something in it for me.
I was resisting what I needed to pursue.
A few months later, lockdown happened and we connected properly on a call on which I was
amazed when he showed me his incredible portfolio of work.
I saw deep into his work, it certainly wasn’t superficial or surface level boudoir and my heart and head lit up.
I wanted to be part of what he calls ‘The way you are wonders’, his therapeutic take on photography and transforming the way women feel about their scars, traumas, pasts and turning what they don’t like into strength and empowerment.
Bearing in mind I was born with amniotic band syndrome to my hands and big toe, which
means I went through lots of birth trauma, and have had multiple operations, this has always
been a challenge mentally, physically and emotionally.
For years I’ve bashed my body physically and with emotional self-hate. I never saw real true beauty until I worked with Gander.

It’s transformed the way I feel and see myself, I now love the body I’m in. I feel so impacted because I see my body and the work we’ve created as an ever evolving canvas and I’m still amazed how I got here.
I’ve broken through fears, broken barriers and overcome big obstacles and still to this day I continue to do so as I embody my yoga practice off and on the mat.
My purpose is to inspire and empower others to self heal, to find a better way, to get to the true authentic self and fall in love with reinventing yourself.
Don’t hold yourself back. If I can do something like this, so can you. You can achieve anything you want.

I thank lockdown as it made it helped me improve and evolve my life not just personally but professionally.
So this year, I became art.
Thank you Julian at Gander Photography and I thank myself for doing the inner work.
I thank you reader for listening.
May these photos inspire you to become the best version of yourself once and for all.

By Donna Marie

Photo credits – Gander Photography – ‘The way you are’

You can also follow Donna Marie on Instagram: @donna_marie_model