Cassie's Story


By Cassie Campbell

Cassies photos were created and captured on the 27th January 2020 at Otatara and Oreti beach (Invercargill - Southland - fast forward to todays date the 1st of May 2020!



We are all on one right? From start to finish there are many hurdles along the way, a few “light at the end of the tunnel,” a few thorns in the roses, but a lot of rainbows among-st the clouds.


I was a teenage Mum at 16 and was thrust-ed into motherhood and life did not hold back. In my late 20s, I decided to embark on a self love journey. At first I tried to embrace my body, and love it for all of its curves, shapes and the smooth feeling of each roll - and the warmth it gave me. I played new sports, I kept active as a Mum of 3, I even took my clothes off by trying the art of Burlesque in front of hundreds of people. I became a plus size model, and was the first plus size model in Dunedin to rock the catwalk for a Poly-tech designer. But deep down that smiley, laughing person was not what she wanted to be Inside she was hurt, ashamed and tired. The words of a nasty ex would whirlwind through my head whenever I was feeling good “If you were skinnier you would be model material”.


I was destined to be a big girl, female family genes it seemed. I was addicted to food. I ate it when I was sad, happy, mad, angry, bored, as a reward, as a punishment - or just because I bloody well wanted it! I didn’t want my weight to rule my world, and I tried my hand at most fad diets, (first one was at age 11 with my Mum by my side). I exercised my butt off but I just still couldn’t fix the head game!


After one last nasty relationship I decided the time had come to put my health first so I could be the best damn Mumma bear and woman I wanted to be. On November 12, 2018 I had Gastric Sleeve Surgery and I have never looked back.


Now this is where Awhina comes in to play. I had liked and watched her amazing photography journey and my goal, when I reached my own weight loss goal was to have my “goal photo shoot” with a goddess in her own right. Who else could you really trust to make you feel amazing and beautiful and that 12 months of hard work and determination was going to show in a set of photos - so that I could truly feel like a Queen.


I trusted in Awhina to style me, and to pose me because I had seen the photos, I had ooohed and ahhed at the amazing goddesses that had rocked the beach before me, and I was getting a chance to be that person.


I had a sneak peak over Awhina’s shoulder to the back of her camera as she showed me this Queen that she had photographed. I didn’t even think it was me. With a firm but sweet voice, Awhina said this is you babe, this is what I see. That is the moment, that after 12 months, my head caught up with my body and I finally got to see what others could see. I finally believed in myself, I stopped picking at what I didn’t like, but saw the beauty. I saw the curves, the smile, the love in my eyes.


I saw the girl that I was destined to be, the one I had strived to become. I am now just under 50kg lighter and I see the world in a different light. I enjoy food for the taste. I savior it and take my time, and now - that is how I intend to live my life. Taking time to smell the roses, one petal at a time.

© 2020 Awhina Russell Fine Art Photographer Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand. / 0279206482