I have been noticing for quite some time that images I often see in both media and in local photographer’s work alike of older women are missing something gorgeous: truthfulness.
As if the truth of what miraculously happens to our sweet and tender bodies is not worthy of being photographed without erasing away with photoshop the lines on our face and neck and arms, the possible darkening under our sage eyes or whatever else sacred all of which are filled with laughter and heartbreak and possible birthing or loosing a child and maybe divorce and lovemaking. We have agreed to call our wise skin ‘saggy’ and ‘wrinkly’ and many other disempowering words. We have been convinced we need creams and magic potions and plastic surgery and most always photoshop to feel worthy of seeing ourselves as beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I love my special face cream and scented body oil that I put on day and night. However, I indulge in those pleasantries for my body because it brings me pleasure and it smells like the desert after rain and I love anointing my body with loveliness, not because I think I need them to be beautiful ‘one day’ or because I need to look like the “after” photo of an untruthful infomercial.
I am 35 years old. I look 35 years old, some people tell me I look older. That does not offend me! In some cultures that would be a tremendous honor, to be thought of as an elder. In our culture, however, we tell our Wise Women that they need to change, and try and look like our granddaughters. You see in most of our older women magazines of women over 50 we might see images of celebrities like my beloved Madonna with animation looking pore-less skin and women smiling without a trace of crows feet or heaven forbid some age spots or veins or a soft under-chin.
I am here to remind us all: The tribal like markings on our well-lived skin is beautiful. They tell the story of our sacred life. They are ours and ours alone. May we not let anyone take them away or erase them in our next photo shoot. Praise your precious body and show our younger women there is nothing to be ashamed of to be in a Wise Woman Body to go with a Wise Woman Soul. And furthermore, let’s celebrate this older skin that we are in! It is glorious! It is alive! It is worthy!
These photos I took of Heather and Cheryl are gorgeous. We took these images to celebrate Heather’s 50th birthday and the women’s friendship and sisterhood. Cheryl is 61 years wise. When I finally sent them the photos, I had to also remind them that in many of the images I lit them in a way that brought out the texture of their skin because I want to celebrate that which we have been trained to not want to see in photographs. They had to look at the final images through fresh eyes of truth, and they had to trust me when I said that the images were breathtaking. I suggested that we must learn to see ourselves, in all wonderful ways of lighting and smile at this rendition of ourselves instead of the learned cringing.
It takes practice, to love ourselves in all of our glory! I encourage us to love ourselves, inside and out, and model that for our young girls and boys who think that only thin photoshopped bodies and pore-less skin are something to strive for instead of loving the precious skin they are in and creating powerful lives with a heart filled with self confidence and self love. We must have more photos of truthful beauty in all of the sacred variations we come in. Thank you Heather and Cheryl for trusting me and for sharing these photos we took with our sisters in the name of celebrating all the stages in which we meet life!