Pin Up Through the Pain: Liz Laperle's Journey

Last year I had the absolute pleasure of photographing Liz Laperle, the famed "Canuck Pinup." You can find her blog {here}. She's coming to do another session, and I asked her to write about her first experience, as well as to write a follow up piece when she does her second session at the end of the month. What she has gone through to be where she is today is an amazing story, and I am so honoured that she is willing to share it with you all. Without further ado, 
Liz Laperele's Pinup Through the Pain...

"When Katie asked me to write a special guest post on her blog, I was both honoured and a little nervous. The idea for this post had been running around my head for a while, but I was waiting until a certain time to post it on my blog. Katie’s proposal just seemed to fit the bill, and she has been such a great support through this journey, so it was absolutely kismet for us to work together on sharing this.

The day these glamour shots were taken was one of the happiest in my life. I felt truly gorgeous thanks to Katie and Katt’s marvelous talents, and was amazed at how stunning the photos had come out. Even more so, I was shocked that Katie was able to pull together shots for me to look at within the afternoon so I could choose one to submit to the How Pinup Girl Clothing Changed My Life Contest that was closing THAT DAY. I felt like the woman inside of me was finally revealed to the world, and was touched by the reactions my friends and family members had towards the shots.
And yet, despite the joy, that was also one of the saddest days of my life. Behind the scenes, the sounds of arguing and yelling ensued, and I was piecing together a pin-up calendar I had torn apart in sheer frustration and heartache so I could capture the important dates listed. It would take me several more months, and a humiliating public experience, to realize that what I was experiencing were the effects of an abusive relationship.

Although I wish my estranged spouse the best, I know now that the situation I was in was an unhealthy one that could only get worse as time progressed. When I finally came to my senses one hard Sunday morning last September, I knew life would never be the same for us. Like what you see on TV when a character finally has an awakening through a magic sword or something. As I was facing this reality, I also faced the looming end of my job as my employer prepared to transfer their operations to a company in the United States. Nevertheless, I was in a situation where I had no house of my own, and no children. To avoid the least amount of casualties, I knew the decision I needed to make. I began divorce proceedings, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I would not wish this process on my worst enemy.

Everyone has a unique experience, but for me, the first thing I felt was the loneliness. Not having someone to come home to and hug… not sharing my kiss with someone… the emptiness in my bed EVERY night. My friends could understand it to some point, but I was the first in my immediate family to feel this kind of heartache. And even though people didn’t mean it, I felt like people looked at me as if I had the Black Plague. It was like people were afraid to touch me… like they thought it was inappropriate to reach out and at least show me they cared.

Something else that hit hard was the impact to my sensuality, my sexuality, and my self-esteem. Because of my convictions, I made the choice not to engage in relations until my divorce was finalized. Do I regret my decision? No. But it has been one of the hardest decisions to deal with. Because of the things that happened in my marriage, these areas of my life were already pretty damaged. And let’s face it; it felt easier to stay in a relationship where at least I was getting some kind of physical affection despite how bad it was. But the truth was that the relationship, like putting a little arsenic in my coffee every morning, was slowly killing me. And because I had been falsely accused of infidelity, I felt even more pressure to handle myself in a way that did not make me become what had been wrongly implied of me. I found myself embarrassed of that side of me, and even loathing my needs as a flesh-and-blood woman; wishing I could turn them off, but knowing that to become numb and frozen would make things worse in the future.


Then there was the blog itself. The woman who had become known as Liz Laperle seemed so far removed from me. My goal had always been for Liz Laperle and my real identity to be one-and-the-same as much as possible. When you saw her or read a new article, I wanted you to see me. And yet, the longer the divorce process went on, the more I found it harder to muster up the strength to “turn her on”. Kinda like the very thing I had mentioned Norma Jean (aka Marilyn Monroe) seemed to have gone through. Though cold weather and a drop in my employer’s dress code played factors too, I even found it hard to have the desire to dress in my vintage gear anymore. And it was only recently I had a realization why; one, I felt like it didn’t matter to anyone and I was making a fool of myself; two, that I was a freak; and three, I feared that people looked at me as a slut or a whore for wearing such outfits. From what many of my friends and loved ones have told me, that isn’t the case, and I have usually made a strong effort to make sure my vintage ensembles are appropriate and modest. Still, the feelings were there, and even now, it is taking some effort to don the garb again.

I had already wanted to do a boudoir shoot with Katie after the glamour shoot, but I found I really needed a boost in my self-esteem shortly after the separation, and that the boudoir session would help me achieve that. I had seen what Katie and Katt had done for me and for countless other clients, and had read Katie’s story about her past experiences, and knew I needed something visual like boudoir photos to help me see myself in a better light. I had originally booked the shoot for November, but then had to cancel for financial reasons. You can only imagine my heartache as I called Katie in tears from a hallway at work, telling her I couldn’t do it at that time. Being her supportive and caring self, she completely understood, and was fully open to whenever I could do it in the future. Come the Grand Opening for Katie and Katt’s new venture, I knew I had to be there, and to finally sign up again for this important shoot. The finances were still a bit of a concern, but things have worked out that I will have enough to cover it, and I am very grateful for this blessing.

As I prepare for my shoot in less than three weeks, I feel both a sense of excitement and terror I cannot fully describe. I am excited to be behind the camera again, and working with this awesome duo who have had such an impact on my life. Plus, I feel like I can add so many more personal touches and whimsical quirks to the photos, and make them more of a reflection of me. At the same time, I have never been photographed with this amount of clothing (or lack thereof) before, and I fear that I will again be viewed as a slut or a whore because of it. Deep down, though, I know these fears are unfounded. I also know that I have control over what is seen and what isn’t, and that helps. At the end of the day, I know that what you will see is the real Liz, and I am looking forward to letting her step out with pride again, and sharing that experience with you after the shoot is done.
Until then, enjoy the return of spring, and I’ll catch you all on the other side of the 30th!
Always with love,

The Canuck Pin-up

I want to say thank you so much to Liz for sharing this intimate part of her life with us. 
A few notes to you, Lovely Liz:

I hope you know that you are an absolute inspiration for myself and many other women not only here, but all over the country. Some things I noticed when reading your guest post and some things I can also relate to are the feelings of loneliness, the feeling that everyone thinks you have the "Black Plague" as you describe it, and the feelings of hating a very human, very real part of yourself. 

As you know, I was also accused of infidelity, and I can tell you that any man who accuses an upstanding woman of doing such a thing is firstly (purposely omitting a stronger word here) a moron, but also extremely insecure. Unfortunately their insecurities can rub off on us, as I know they did to me. When someone plays mind games with you long enough, it's difficult to discern between the game, and reality. Please know your attire, your garb, your amazingly gorgeous outfits, never once have ever portrayed you as anything less than you are: a beautiful, gorgeous, confident, self-respecting woman. Please don't think for a second that you are anything less than that, an insecure man will do his best to make you feel that way, because the smaller he makes you and your self esteem, the bigger he can feel. He is not really a man, he is a scared boy, and that's just the truth.

Please also know that as time wears on, the ways he has programmed your thinking will begin to change. You will begin to see yourself in a new light, not his light, but your own beautiful white light. Every day for a long time (it's been two years for me, and it still happens from time to time) you will be discovering ways you thought, that you didn't even realized you thought, that were actually his way of thinking. You will change your thinking on a daily basis. It will get easier.

As more time passes you may also become angry as you realize all the negative ways he has programmed your mind, after years of emotional and mental abuse, but please know that this anger will fade, and it will get easier too.

As days pass the "Black Plague" you feel as though everyone perceives you as having, will also fade away. People who were your true friends will return to your life, and those who were apart of your life with him may show their true colors. You may actually lose "friends" but don't worry, they weren't friends anyway. They were just allies in his game. But it will get easier too.

No one tells you how to go through a divorce, no one likes to talk about it, and no one knows the right thing to say to make it better, to make it hurt less. Just know that every morning that you lift your head off your pillow and walk through your day, is a day to celebrate, is a victory. 

Liz I am so incredibly proud of you. Sharing your story is difficult, and although you didn't go into specifics with your story, it is scary to even say the words, "abusive relationship" out loud. I wish you freedom, abundant love from your friends and family and abundant love for yourself. You are a brave, strong, courageous, thoughtful, amazing, and kind, kind woman. Never forget this.

I can't wait for our session, I'll see you soon girlie!

Stay tuned for the follow up to Pin Up Through the Pain in April!

As always, Hair & Make-up by the lovely Katt Panic


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