“I wish I had done this 20 years ago.”
“Can you take out the wrinkles?”
“We need to hide the sagging.”
When clients come in for a boudoir photography session we hear all of this and more. They are sometimes looking for a fantasy version of themselves. Or maybe just an earlier version.
Our culture tells us that men get more distinguished as they age and women just get old. Hollywood’s favorite leading men regularly play opposite love interests far younger than they are. When is the last time you saw Tom Cruise paired with a woman his own age? And Emma Stone, who is in her mid twenties, is often paired with men in their 50’s.
How unfair is that?
“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve.” Coco Chanel
Our lives are mapped and written across our faces and our bodies. Those wrinkles at the corners of your eyes are laugh lines. You got those from decades of good times. The stretch marks across your belly were earned when you grew a life inside you. Of course, not all of our experiences and memories are good ones, but they all make us who we are. The frowns and the sadness. That look you get when your daughter’s yogurt somehow ends up on the ceiling. It’s all there.
We need to learn to celebrate our physical selves as a reflection of the life we lead.
I have a very distinct memory of being on a city bus when I was in my twenties and there was a very old woman sitting across from me. There wasn’t an inch of her face that didn’t hold a crease or a wrinkle and yet I found her beautiful. She was well dressed and obviously cared about her appearance but she wasn’t wearing a stitch of makeup. Her hair was combed but not coiffed.
It struck me in that moment how liberating it must be. To be in a place in your life when no one expects you to try to look young and conventionally beautiful anymore. You’ve gone so far beyond the possibility that you can just be. You can just live in the cracks and crevices of your life and think about other things. It seemed so amazing and so distant. But should it be?
We should be able to do that at any age. Live in the face and body we have earned without lament or regret.
When we do boudoir photography we don’t do fantasy photography. We don’t even necessarily do glamour photography. We do you. We want your session to be about who you are and the beauty that comes from every moment of the life you have lived. Even that time your best friend ran out of gas in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, Georgia and you had to get a ride in the back of a pickup truck in the cold from a stranger to the next gas station and then wait for the attendant’s brother-in-law to get out of bed and drive you back to your car with a can of gasoline. But no one was hurt and everything turned out fine in the end but you still won’t ever let her forget.
It’s all there and it’s all important. Don’t ask us to hide it, let us help you celebrate it.