Looking for some inspiration? Los Angeles photographers Jennifer Hoffman and Marisa Gallegos, of Esme & Eve, will take a leap of faith on Saturday, Nov. 17 in nothing but a safety harness and their lingerie (the company does boudoir photography). The duo will skydive, for a second time, from a plane over Lake Elsinore, California, along with five other women in the “Be Bold. Take the Leap” initiative to encourage women to face their fears and realize their dreams. Here’s our Q&A with Jennifer Hoffman.
SheKnows: Tell us about your motivation for the jump.
Jennifer Hoffman: We feel that the parameters of what makes today’s woman feel valued need to change in a very, very big way. We see how narrow, convoluted standards stifle so many women from achieving their potential and we strongly believe that is intrinsically wrong. We want more women to shed the mantle of what binds them to ideas that do not serve them.
Face your fears — and love yourself
SheKnows: Won’t you be cold in just the underwear? Couldn’t you make the same point in regular clothing?
Jennifer Hoffman: We are prepared for a little discomfort, as per our wardrobe choice. Originally we jumped in our unmentionables as a sign of solidarity with all of our boudoir clients, past, present and future, who faced their body issues in front of our lenses. Our clients are our heroes, who constantly inspire and drive us, and we honor them.
SheKnows: Why is it important for women to face their fears and be bold?
Jennifer Hoffman: It’s important for women to know what they are capable of achieving. In our own lives, we have come to the conclusion that confidence is not a feeling, it is simply the knowledge of what one is capable of achieving. Facing one’s fears or insecurities is integral to building an individual’s confidence and sense of self. We truly do believe that a confident woman can change the world.
Shake off those social standards and be who you want to be
SheKnows: Do you think women are socialized to go with the flow, keep the peace and keep others happy rather than pursuing their dreams?
Jennifer Hoffman: Yes, we do. My mother grew up in the Philippines; it was her dream to be a doctor and help people. But her father was a physicist, and he decided that she, too, would be a physicist. So my mother came to this country as a Fulbright scholar and became a physicist. Even thousands of miles and worlds away from her father she still turned her back on her own dreams and followed his wishes.
Then when she had children it was decided she would stay home and raise us. She gave up the physics professor job she really enjoyed to raise us.
I grew up watching my mother put everyone first, time and again, and while a part of me found it noble, another part could simply never understand why [even with a] brilliant Fulbright scholar and physicist, her happiness was never a part of the equation of her own life. I never thought my mother’s story was my own, but looking back on many of the choices I’ve made, especially concerning relationships, I recognize that in many ways my mother’s story has been woven into my own.
Women need to change their self-perception
SheKnows: What’s holding women back from personal achievement and fulfillment?
Jennifer Hoffman: We honestly believe that it’s as simple as self-perception — women simply feeling as though somehow they are intrinsically lacking and therefore do not feel like they are worthy of, nor do they work toward, achievement and feeling fulfilled.