Paralyzed Bride Rachelle Chapman Poses in Sexy Lingerie to Send a Powerful Message (PHOTOS)

rachelle chapman boudoir shotsFive years after a harrowing accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down, Rachelle Chapman's still known to the world as the "paralyzed bride." But these days, more fitting labels might be "stunning wife," "beautiful new mom," and, yes, even "hot model," given the jaw-dropping boudoir photos she took earlier this month to launch an empowering campaign called "What Makes Me Sexy." 

She tells us exclusively:

When the injury happened, it took a blow to my self-confidence and to my sexuality. I identify with that part of myself, and I felt like it was gone.

So, stripping down to nothing but gorgeous lingerie and lounging in front of Revolution Studios's camera à la Marilyn Monroe was one way to retrieve that part of her self-image that had gone MIA. And it did. "It made me feel like me again," she confesses.

At the same time, the experience wasn't meant to simply boost Chapman's self-esteem. Her aim: To prove that disabilities don't have to keep you from feeling beautiful and sexy. "The photo shoot was for people who feel like they've lost their confidence or sexual identity [and] for the people out there who have misconceptions about disability," she shares.

Think it's safe to say that she can consider that mission -- accomplished. Chapman's hashtag "#WhatMakesMeSexy" has gone viral, attached to a bevy of photos on Instagram from other women inspired to talk about their own sexuality, self-image, and disabilities. To that we say: Bravo!

Check out Chapman's beautiful, bold photo shoot -- and how the author, public speaker, and advocate feels about "baring all" to the world.

 

Image via Revolution Studios

  • "I'm learning to love myself."

    1

    "When the injury happened, it took a blow to my self-confidence and to my sexuality," Chapman explains. "I identify with that part of myself, and I felt like it was gone. I couldn't control my body's looks, and I couldn't control the fact that I had to wear a catheter. But after five years ... I am not OK with the disability. I am OK with myself, and I'm learning to love myself."

  • "It's OK to hate the disability while at the same time feeling beautiful."

    2

    "The shoot was not inspired just to boost my own confidence," Chapman explains. "It was to break stereotypes and put a different face to disability. I think if you ask most people how they view in their head someone with a disability, it isn't usually a positive image. I want to make it clear that ... this injury has greatly affected my life. But it's OK to hate the disability while at the same time feeling beautiful and confident in yourself."

  • "People who are in my situation can feel very lonely."

    3

    Chapman hopes her campaign will empower others to feel more comfortable in their own skin. "People who are in my situation -- especially young people who have sustained a life-altering injury -- can feel very lonely," she acknowledges. "I wanted to show [them] that they aren't alone and that they can still be beautiful." 

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  • "I'm the girl behind the wheels."

    4

    "Because of the negative stereotypes, it's very difficult for people with disabilities to find a lifelong partner who accept them for who they are," Chapman notes. "I think the wheelchair is kind of a deterrent before someone even gets to know you sitting in it. So, I wanted to do a photo shoot without the wheelchair to show that I'm the girl behind the wheels, but actually I'm the same exact person."

  • "Can she have sex?"

    5

    This photo shoot also turned out to be a way for Chapman to address one of the most common question she gets from commenters online: "Can she have sex?" Her answer: "Intimacy is a very important part of being in a relationship, and I think it's important that the world knows that we aren't asexual and that we still love being sexy and intimate."

    Love it.

  • "If I had had an image like this when I was in rehab ..."

    6

    That said, it wasn't always so easy for Chapman to feel that way about getting close with her husband. "After the injury, it's hard to imagine what it's going to be like to be intimate again," she shares. "If I had had an image like this when I was in rehab, it would have made me feel so much more confident about the future."

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  • "I decided to just let go of all the insecurities ..."

    7

    Although Chapman looks incredibly confident in these shots, she was still in a vulnerable position. "I was a little nervous," she admits. "I've never been in in front of anyone other than [my husband] Chris like that since the injury. The leg bag is something I've been self-conscious about, but now that I hit the five-year mark of my injury, I decided to just let go of all the insecurities and show the world what I'm made of." Awesome.

  • "It was so liberating."

    8

    When it came time to look at the end result, Chapman says the pictures took her breath away. As it turns out, simply seeing herself that way was unique -- and we don't mean in lingerie. "What people don't realize is that we never see ourselves out of the wheelchair, because we need the wheelchair to get in front of a mirror," she explains. "It was so liberating seeing myself without it. It made me feel like me again." 

  • "You can have something 'different' about you, and you can still exude sexiness."

    9

    "Disabilities are all so different, but sometimes you can feel very alone, like no one understands what you're going through," Chapman shares. "And with the catheter bag, you never see it on anyone obviously, and I wanted to show people that you can have a disability, or have something 'different' about you, and you can still exude sexiness."

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  • "We all have insecurities."

    10

    Champan's tip for women who aren't disabled but perhaps are struggling with positive body image: "We all have insecurities, and I want people to know that our differences are what make us beautiful. Let go of self-criticism and focus on the things that you love about yourself." All the yes to that!

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