I’m a 45 year old woman these days, and I think one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life is age. That is saying something as I’ve been through some really difficult shit in my life, a lot of which has undoubtedly contributed to this goddamn process.
Up until 5 years ago I was always that naive 20 or 30 something that KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that I was going to take care of myself through diet and exercise, only use natural products and as a reward, look young forever. Like, I literally believed this with my soul. I believed that I would somehow evade the fine lines, the crows feet around my eyes, the loose neck skin, (which really fucking bothers me and gives me a new understanding of why my ex-mother-in-law wears turtle necks all of the time). Then I turned 40. . . and then 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and it’s all happening to me. ALL of it, and what the actual fuck!
I was that young woman that wrapped my whole identity up in what I looked like, and being attractive. So now that all of that seems to be fading, I find myself having a sad, midlife identity crisis as I catapult from ‘mother’ to ‘crone’. I’d like to say that I’m cool and advanced enough to do this gracefully, whatever the fuck graceful means, but when it comes down to it I’m really struggling with this transition.
Part of the problem here is that I still feel like I’m 25. When I see an unedited photo of myself or wear my reading glasses while I’m looking in the mirror, it shocks and frustrates me; because I was going to evade this, godammit! However, it turns out that I’m actually not. I was just talking to my Aunt Judy last week, who is in her late 70s. She told me that her Grandmother told her once that every woman grows into her age somewhere in her 20s, and that is the age that she feels for the rest of her life. I believe this with my entire soul now. I still feel like I should be able to run and hike and joyfully “get around” like I did when I’m in my 20s, and to some degree I’ve taken care of myself enough that I can do some of it, but it really isn’t the same because my brain, and the past 20 years of messaging that “young is best’, always gets in the way of my heart and soul.
So, how does a woman get through this stage of life? Really, tell me how? I preach Empowering Yourself to my clients, yet I struggle with doing this for myself? Empowering Women is literally my job, and yet I feel like a fraud because I’m convinced that I’m a shriveling midlife woman who can’t deal with aging and I just want to throw a huge tanty and go hide from society so that they can’t see how hideous I’m becoming. It’s such bullshit!
So, I guess it’s time to give myself the same advice that I give my clients:
You are gorgeous. Aging is a privilege that you GET to do and you should celebrate it. “Aging Gracefully” doesn’t mean that you let yourself go, Elayne, it simply means that you learn how to adore everything nature is doing to you and still find your way to feel sexy and powerful! You go flirt with that 26 year old, without shame. You dress in whatever way you feel best, even if the articles tell you you “can’t wear that after 40”. You embrace the changes in your sexuality but also challenge yourself to keep active and moving so that you can still blow your partner’s mind. You take care of yourself, Elayne. You love yourself and know that you are going through a beautiful time honored process and you are god.damn.ROCKING.it!
Remember Elayne, your passion lies in taking images to show ALL women just how beautiful the rest of the world sees them, even when they struggle to see it themselves, and YOU are no exception.
A note about my Session:
Empowerment looks different to every woman. As I age, (and after being told I have a major case of RBF by my makeup artist, who is one of my favorite people ever) I decided that I wanted to EMPOWER myself to be soft and romantic. To embrace my femininity and honestly, to wear all of my favorite dresses. Doing self-portraits is HARD (that’s what she said?) so I simplified my shoot by using only a couple locations in my studio. . . and I felt awkward at first, even though I was totally by myself. After putting on some music and getting comfortable being in Front of my camera, I just decided to embrace it and have fun, dance around and not shy away from focusing on the parts of me that I get scared of. It also didn’t hurt that my hubby stopped working on my back studio long enough to help me relax, if you catch my drift. 😉
Whatever EMPOWERS you. . . do it!!
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