They wanted to do something different for their engagement photo shoot. Something special.
Stephanie and Arynn from Texas opted to go topless, snuggled together on a river bank and then in the water, to take the pictures that would announce their engagement. She wearing bikini bottoms, he in jeans.
They knew the images would hold a special place in their own lives, with Stephanie telling HuffPost: “I’ve honestly never felt more attractive, I look so in love and confident”.
But the pair didn’t realise how the images would affect other people. They certainly weren’t expecting their engagement album to go viral.
The last thing on their minds, when they sat in that cool water with their arms wrapped around each other, was that the photoshoot might jeopardise Stephanie’s position at Austin Bank in Texas.
Here’s how it went down:
The company behind the shoot, Wolf & Rose Photography, posted the images to their Facebook page in early September – just when Stephanie and Arynn also learned they were expecting a baby boy. In a matter of weeks, the album had received more than 60,000 likes and upwards of 10,000 comments.
The reaction? Overwhelmingly positive. Something Stephaie puts down to a lesson in body positivity.
“Over the years, I’ve come to accept that I am always going to be considered plus-size,” she told HuffPost. “I push myself out of my comfort zone by wearing clothes that I love but aren’t in society’s mold of what is acceptable for bigger women, like crop tops, tight shirts, shorter dresses and shorts. I walk around with my head high, smiling, and show no show no shame in myself.”
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Not everyone was thrilled, however, with Stephanie telling BuzzFeed the bank at which she worked was “concerned” about the content of the images and the attention they were receiving.
“They said I was topless and it was inappropriate and we’re a family-oriented company,” she said, telling BuzzFeed the company decided to terminate her contract.
“I gave over a year to a company that I worked really hard for and then to have them turn on me for doing something so positive, something that I was so proud of — to help myself as a woman — it was hurtful. People were pulling out their phones at work and showing the pictures and that was blamed on me.”
Stephanie and Arynn, however – even with a baby on the way – say they wouldn’t change a thing.
“It puts out a good message and helps in my self confidence and how I feel about myself,” Stephanie said.
One thing is certain: The images, and their meaning, are utterly spectacular.