We met Millie, the face behind M BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY, where all good connections take place these days, online via IG. And it was love at first DM.
At BITS, we’re all about celebrating individuality and normalising ALL body types, so we couldn’t love what Millie is all about any more.
Millie is a journalist, a photographer and the 'face' of her Instagram account where she focuses on empowering women and helping them feel confident in their bodies. Through sharing vulnerabilities, and intimate stories, Millie has connected over 14,000 women and built a supportive community.
Not only has she connected thousands of women around the world, she has single-handedly photographed literally hundreds of women, giving them the chance to celebrate their bodies.
We chatted to Millie about how she inadvertently became an ‘body positive influencer’ and what she has learnt about bodies, vulnerability and loving your bits along the way.
Why did you start photographing women in their lingerie?
I started photographing women in their lingerie because I liked how I felt when I took photos of myself in lingerie. I thought, if this makes me feel so powerful and beautiful, maybe other women would feel that way if I took photos of them as well.
Pic: Millie wearing Rose & Bare’s Everyday T-Shirt Bra and Little G, both in shade #4.
You have a community of over 14K on Instagram, why do you think so many people have connected with your story, and the stories of the women you share?
I think in this day and age, where appearance, material objects and social media are so prevalent, we tend to compare ourselves to others constantly. I believe these women have felt a connection with me and the women I photograph because it's not about comparing. It is about appreciating all bodies! It's about seeing the similarities between us, the differences and what makes us unique. Women's empowerment is so needed, and I think that is another reason why I have a growing community, because women want more and deserve more. It's about being empowered with nudity, it's about not feeling ashamed of something that people would call a 'flaw' and it's about just feeling comfortable in your skin, despite what others may think about you.
How many women do you think you have photographed?
I have photographed possibly 100-150 women now... from the start of 2020 until now. It's one of my favourite parts of the job, meeting, connecting and networking with so many varied women.
That’s a lot of (almost) naked bodies! As women, we don’t often see our friends in such an intimate way (and typically, don’t have the locker room culture of getting nude with mates like many men do). What has the experience taught you about nudity and bodies? And do you think women should get naked in front of each other more often?
I don't think there is one normal, but many normals. I think one of the most common feelings is feeling alone in something you have, or something you hate about your body, but chances are there are multiple women out there thinking the same thing as you. This leads nicely into the next point about men having locker rooms and getting naked, whereas women don't have that and often feel uncomfortable doing so. Maybe if we grew up having that, it may be a little different. We would be able to see that body hair is totally okay, nipples are different shapes, colours (and can be inverted), and the list goes on. It's probably not even so much seeing each other naked more often, but even just talking about our bodies more often too!
Pic: Millie wearing Rose & Bare’s Lace Bralette and Lace G-string, both in shade #3
What have you learnt about body confidence along the way?
That you'll have good days and bad days, and that is okay. It's not a linear progress, and I don't personally believe you can love yourself wholly all the time. However, you can focus on the positives and embrace those good moments more than the bad ones. Also, think about why you're feeling bad about your body? Who told you that saggy boobs aren't okay? Why do you think those stretch marks are making you feel down? There are so many outside factors, like societal messages, that impact how we think about ourselves.
Do you have any tips for helping others to ‘love your bits’?
This one always stumps me. It's hard to give advice to others, because it's a very internal process. YOU need to love YOUR bits... not someone else. Outside validation, rather than internal validation, will never amount to the same type of self-love and self-acceptance. Work on yourself, for your own benefit. Remember that everyone is unique, but we are also so similar. You are never alone in your struggles and voicing them to others can help.
Pic: Millie wearing Triumph bra and Peach underwear.
What does vulnerability (or self-love) mean to you? How do you think the experience of being photographed in such an intimate way taps into this?
Getting down to your most raw and natural state, i.e. being naked, is probably one of the most vulnerable things some women will ever do. Nudity is something that's hidden in most societies. To get photos of your body, in its most natural form, is hard for people. Some people don't even like to look at themselves naked in mirrors. The connection to oneself often is tied to how we look, and our bodies especially, so being able to get nude (or into underwear) and get photographed taps into self-love and vulnerability because it's not often done, can often bring up emotions about body issues and really digs deep into how we view ourselves.
Through your perspective (on the other side of the lens) what’s the experience of photographing women in such a vulnerable way like?
I see a lot of naked bodies. I also see a lot of nervous and uncomfortable women, especially when they first step into the studio. I think one of the most beautiful experiences that comes from being on the other side of the lens is that I get to see the change in them as the photo shoot goes on. I see the change after they receive their photos, whether that be through their response or if they come to me for another photo shoot. That's all I care about, being able to help in that process.
Pic: Millie wearing Feele.
Speaking of intimacy, do you remember the intimate moment of getting your first bra? What was the experience like?
I hated it. I avoided it and felt so embarrassed when my mum took me to get my bra size measured. I can't remember the complete ins and outs of the experience but I know I didn't want to go. I think that has a lot to do with puberty not being spoken about openly enough. I was really young when I went through puberty, and being one year older than the rest of my grade, I was well ahead of the other girls. Instead of being proud of the changes in my body, I kept it hidden. I would like to hope through the work I do, and the conversations I have (especially with women who have daughters), we can help young girls have positive experiences with the changes in their bodies.
Pic: Millie wears Nico’s certified organic cotton underwire bra and matching plant-dyed high-waisted briefs
Fast forward to the present state… what are your favourite thing about your body and bits now?
I love my curves. I have always had wide hips (I used to get called ‘wide load’ in high school, but in an appreciative way). In the past couple of years I have put on weight, become even curvier and even got myself a little pot belly. I embrace all of me, because I know there is more to me than just my body and we're not all one size or shape.
I usually let the boobies free, however the Triumph bra is really comfortable and I hardly feel like I'm wearing it. I also love anything white and lacy, so it still has a sexy feel while being supportive.
Pic: Millie wearing Triumph bra and Peach underwear.
The Peach bottoms are super high waisted (my fellow curvy women will appreciate it) and because they're seamless they're perfect for when you're wearing tight clothes and don't want to have undie lines showing.
The Feele Crop and Brief on the other hand is more like loungewear style. I wear the briefs under my tracksuit pants and then just wear the top as a crop. Cute look and comfortable (the older I get, the more I sway towards comfort over the look).
Pic: Millie wearing Feele.
And what’s next for you and M Brand Photography? A book! I have promised to my followers (and myself) that it will launch by the end of the year. It has been a long time coming and I am really excited to share it with everyone. It is called In Her Skin and features 27 women and their stories.
Pic: Sneak peek of Millie’s book In Her Skin.
How does our BITS community get involved in yours? Follow me on Instagram. I am active as much as I possibly can while being a full-time journo!
We teamed up with Millie from M BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY to celebrate everybody's bits. See more LOVE YOUR BITS here.