Breaking down the biases and framing a new mindset

Published on Tuesday, 17 January 2023 08:08

Businesses and entrepreneurs are often challenged with maintaining a successful business and putting for an expansion of some kind. Most who are successful in business, love what they do or have a real passion for it. Former Valley resident, successful photographer and body image activist Teri Hofford has spent quite a few years living her dream. Hofford had a bustling boudoir studio, awards and accolades from some well-known photography communities, speaking at engagements and workshops all around the world and creating work that challenged the status quo. Although it was all Hofford could dream of, inside she was feeling overwhelmingly exhausted,
alone, stressed and unable to ask for help. Her fear of resting led her to believe her business and accomplishments would fail or fall behind. This led to her exploring and challenging the beliefs set forth by the hustle culture, which
is very similar to the diet culture, that has deprived so many people’s bodies of what they needed the most.
This has opened up a new door for Hofford and it’s one she’s going through, without letting anything hold her back. “Over the last three to four years I’ve been building up the education side of my business to work with photographers and other creatives on how they can make their business more inclusive, that way there can be more progress,” said Hofford. “As one person I can only do so much, but I figured if I could teach people what I know, then the more impact we can have to make sure others understand they are worthy of being photographed and that we start seeing bodies of all types.
“In building that up, while running my photography business in 2018, I hit a bout of burnout and the worst depression I’d ever had. I’ve never experienced depression before that. It was going on a trip to Norway and not remembering anything about the trip that was the revelation moment that something needed to change.
“That’s when I went back to school for positive psychology and learned all about the mindset behind it,” said Hofford. “What I realized most was a lot of creative people create businesses they are passionate about and want
to make a change in the world, but they are also human and don’t recognize the toll it takes on themselves personally to do it.
“I started to shift my work to include mindset work because, ultimately, body image is mindset work as well. That’s where I’ve been heading for the last four years. This type of work that is done in the empowerment world is so
important, but the people who do this type of work are usually empaths.
They are givers and often don’t give to themselves. I want to make sure I can help others build sustainable business practices, even if it is not in photography, so they incorporate that into their model and not run the risk of burnout.” During the pandemic, Hofford faced a lot of similar pressures and anxieties many entrepreneurs had. Most were unable to continue their business or services the way they had normally done due to public health restrictions.
This led to Hofford challenging herself in new ways and as a result, she published a new book. “This book actually came out of the pandemic, because I wasn’t able to utilize my creativity or purpose to the extent I was used to,” said Hofford. “I couldn’t photograph clients as a part of my normal business, so I had to challenge myself with a task. I decided to go with taking a new self-portrait every day and also writing a personal post or story to go along with it.
“That’s when I really started to notice that one of my gifts was through my own honesty and humility, I was able to connect with people. I gravitate to following my intuition on things, such as what to post and when to do that. This became a self-practice to dig up some old stories and talk about how I’m working through them or how it relates to business creativity or body image.
By being able to condense it down, it made people feel more seen, heard and understood in their own mindset or what their brain was telling them. A lot of times, people felt they couldn’t open up and share those thoughts and
feelings with others. This led to people suggesting I put this into a book. “Essentially 2,200 Characters or Less is a compilation of 2,200 different posts I had on Instagram and the whole intent was to put out there all the things
that make us human, the parts of ourselves that we feel aren’t great or have shame about, how can we move through it,” said Hofford. “That’s the premise of this book.” Lived experience is becoming something that more people are connecting with when it comes to personal growth and recovery. There’s something about reading or listening to someone who has gone through something similar to what a person is experiencing, that has a positive and inspiring
effect. Hofford has been able to channel this energy to help those going through similar situations that she has encountered or is going through.
“Every time someone shares their story, it’s going to be easier for someone else to share theirs, which is why it was so important for me to put myself aside when I had these thoughts,” said Hofford.
“I know there are a lot of people who have stories they want to tell, but their fear gets in the way. The way I would get myself to share my writing, is to remind myself that my passion for helping has to override the fear of
whatever I’m feeling. “When I keep that in mind, that it’s not about me, it’s about the people that are going to read this, or the one other person in the world that this is going to greatly impact, the more honest it’s going
to be.
“Which is why we are seeing a lot of pushback from people who hate change,” said Hofford. “This is a little too dramatic or feelsy for them and it’s scary and contrasting to the way these people have always been. The more we do
this, eventually they will get on board or the movement will happen whether they like it or not. I focus more on who I am helping, not who is offended by what I’m sharing.” Looking back at 2022, letting go has been one of
the biggest achievements Hofford has been able to do. She felt that she was tied to all these titles and her studio in order to be successful. Once Hofford embraced that these things don’t define who she is or her work, she
was able to take her work to a new and higher level.
“This past year I feel that one of my biggest accomplishments has been being able to walk the talk, so to speak,” said Hofford. “I’ve always been a believer of one following their dreams, but I was holding on to having a studio and
being just a photographer. I had become so attached to all these identities that I created for myself and this past year, I proved that I don’t have to be attached to those. 
“I’m growing, changing and adapting, and that has been my guiding principle. I want to be a role model for those who want to try something new, but are afraid to or letting things hold them back. I had to detach myself from all
these things I thought Ihad to have to be relevant, valued and successful.” 
Hofford has set another goal for 2023 and is focusing on healing. “For this coming year, I would like to personally focus on healing,” said Hofford. “After putting myself in a state of chronic stress while I was building my photography
business, my body took a toll. Now I have to show more appreciation for my body through movement, rest, and nourishment. I also want to heal relationships that I didn’t keep up with while I was running my business and other
aspects of my business. Healing is going to be the theme for this coming year.
“I also hope to reach more than just photographers with my mindset and body image work. I want to expand to anyone that is ready to do the work in challenging their body image and mindset, which includes breaking down
biases and beliefs.”
Hofford’s new book, 2,200 Characters or Less is available to order online or through her website.

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