By Robbie Kaye, Photographer and Guest Contributor
Why is it a daunting task to alter the perception of aging and beauty when we all do it? What if there were billboards of sexy 50 and 60 year olds doing sports or just close ups of their aged faces? What if there were pictures of older men and women in hair salons? Why should older women have to sit in a salon chair and see only posters of young beautiful faces on the wall? Who put the “ugly” in aging, a privilege denied to many, and how do we take it out? Enough questions?
It makes sense that because the fashion world has grown so much that we are barraged with images of youthful beauty. Could it be that during the time that some of our mothers or grandmothers aged, they were relegated to wearing beige rubbery shoes and flowery housecoats? It’s not that way anymore.
And in my memory, my own grandmother wore Ferragamo shoes and Chanel suits well into her 90’s until the day she passed. What I don’t understand is why do we keep aging a secret when it is inevitable? The gap between generations would lessen if we chiseled away at the stereotypes that are not even accurate anymore.
How can we teach young women to honor older women? My guess would be to teach by example. After all, the older women are the ones who opened the door and led the way for our younger generations and they/we will continue to do so.
The reality of my vision for older women appearing on billboards is not so far away. More and more magazines are being published with mature women on the covers and stories about what they are doing. On social media I have had the privilege of meeting many other advocates for baby boomers who are also on the path of redefining what aging looks like. It actually feels like a bit of a revolution, if not, evolution. Bonnie McFarland who offers information for women who want to create lives they love at 60 & beyond. And Growing Bolder, which now has their own TV station, blog radio and blog. Ceri Wheeler (FabAfterFifty) from England, Carrie Pierce who sheds light on topics for older women including the taboo subject of menopause with her radio co-host Gail Edgell and Sophie Lumen from Feed The Beauty… the list goes on and on so the good news is that collectively, we are expanding our perception and in the process, altering it for the healthier and better.
I am seeing other photographers paying homage to our elders. Honey Lazar, a fantastic fine art photographer is coming out with a photographic book called, “Loving Aunt Ruth” and we get to be voyeurs into the life of a woman, who at 92 and a half, continues to teach us valuable lessons of love and integrity. I highly recommend reading Honey’s blog with her eloquent gentle writing and poignant photographs.
While it would be easy to rant and complain about how our media, advertising and culture caters to youth, I prefer to focus on the movement forward and I am grateful to participate in this movement. I enjoyed presenting my photographs of older women and hearing people relate their stories of nostalgia about their elders. The photographs present strong, fearless women who did not let vanity stop them from living full and exciting lives. I feel honored that they allowed me to take their photographs and interview them. I am excited to exhibit their photographs and share their images along with essays from women all over the country in the book, Beauty and Wisdom, a preservation of rituals and an account of Beauty and Wisdom.
Robbie Kaye studied photography at the University of Southern California. Her work can be viewed in publications such as Visual Overture Magazine, Professional Women Photographers Imprints Mag, Gourmet and Allure Magazine and she is published in various online publications such as Lens Culture and Lenscratch among others. Robbie’s work from Beauty & Wisdom has been featured in the Month of Photography, Los Angeles Group Show, (MOPLA) at Smashbox Studios in Culver City, CA and has received numerous awards. Robbie will be exhibiting Beauty and Wisdom in a solo show this September at Camera Work Gallery in Portland, Oregon. To view more of her work, visit her websites at RobbieKaye.com and RobbieKayeGallery.com as well as her Beauty and Wisdom trailer on YouTube.com.