The 40 over 40 Project
This is a post I original wrote in July 2015 that I wanted to share with you all. I feel the message is as clear and relevant now as it was when I first wrote it. Although this particular project has finished, I still want women to hear my story and my message and know that they are not alone, no matter what they are going through.
True beauty comes from within. Our intelligence, strength, courage, vulnerability and determination are what makes us beautiful. Like a fine wine, woman get better with age. Most of us know this, but we often forget how important it is to appreciate that inner beauty. Sometimes, we may not feel as beautiful on the outside as we do on the inside. We get busy with our lives, raising families, working on our careers...or both.
Life can take us in so many directions and everyone has a story to tell, good or bad, if you just take the time to listen. I want to tell your stories. I want to help you look and feel your best but most of all I want to empower you. I know from experience what body issues and negative self-talk can do to your feeling of self-worth and I want to help you.
My story is a complicated one but when I hit 30 years old I was at a cross-road. I had not achieved what I thought I should have done at that age and I felt lost and lonely. I had a marriage breakup and 2 young children and even though I was happy with how I looked, I felt empty & ugly on the inside. A failure. Instead of being grateful for what I had, I started questioning why I didn't have more. So in that moment, I decided to do something about it. I applied and was accepted to dental hygiene school in Adelaide, something I had wanted to do for some time but because of other things going on in my life, I didn't pursue. At the time I told myself it was because the kids were so young or that I financially couldn't afford to re-locate. Truth is, I think I was scared of failing...or change...or both.
So fast forward to when I hit 40 and wow, my life changed so much in 10yrs! I studied and graduated from Uni and was working as a dental hygienist in a beautiful practice in Wanniassa. I had met a wonderful man, saw my beautiful boys grow up to be wonderful young men, volunteered with several organisations and the list goes on. I still felt good about my outward appearance but now I felt love for myself where before only hate and resentment resided. I had hit my stride and life was good!
Then I got sick
The migraines started with one a month, then 2 a month and before long I was crippled by them, being forced to leave the job I loved so much and the people I used to treat everyday. By 42 I had put on 10kgs and now at 44, I'm carrying 30kgs more than I want to be. All because I got sick. Migraines = inactivity = medications = weight gain. I know I'm the same person on the inside, the one that picked herself up and dusted her self off numerous times to achieve what she wanted. I know I am supposed to still feel accomplished and courageous, intelligent and determined, but my total disgust with my body image makes it so hard to see my inner beauty rationally. My man is always telling me how beautiful I am but I never believe him, because I don't love myself. Or I didn't.
When deciding what my next 10yrs would look like, I decided to take the hand I was dealt and delve into my photography full time. I stopped photographing landscapes and babies & started photographing something that is so near and dear to my heart.
Women of all ages, sizes, races, sexuality. I can honestly say, it makes my heart sing to get up in the morning knowing I'm going to change someones perception of themselves today. Every day I hear the negative self talk a woman berates herself with and it makes me sad. Not only for those woman but for myself. I do it ALL the time to myself! I have beautiful woman coming in to see me every day and I can't think of a single one that hasn't said something to put themselves down before we start shooting....do we do that to ourselves before others have the chance to say that to us? Maybe. I know that little by little, I am trying to stop my negative self talk and starting to love myself again. Its hard...but baby steps right. I'm a good person, a great mother, a great friend, a mentor, a confidant. Someone that can be relied upon when you need her. I'm starting to find myself again and all the woman I have photographed have contributed in getting me there.
So that's how the 40 over 40 project came into being. I was looking for 40 woman over the age of 40 to photograph over the last 4 months of 2015. Each lady was pampered with professional hair and makeup, had some bubbles and a photoshoot with me....and it was all free of charge. They also receive a matted print with the option to purchase more.
I wanted to celebrate you...your life, your loves, your passions. Help you find something you thought you'd lost or celebrate you hitting your stride. I wanted to tell your story.
Ladies were asked to fill out an online questionnaire. This was probably the hardest part for a lot of the women as it was quite in depth and asked some questions that many of the ladies that responded said they really struggled with. They also said it was a great learning experience for them as they were able to look at their lives from a different perspective as they told their stories.
I was overwhelmed by the response, with more than 100 people submitting the online questionnaire to be involved and everyone had a story to tell, good or bad, and it was heart wrenching for me to not be able to pick all of them. Everyone was so deserving. My hope was that through all of us sharing our stories, we not only helped ourselves to grow past those blocks that hold us back but to help other ladies to identify with these stories and in doing so, make them see that they aren't alone and that a mind shift can make all the difference to our feeling of self worth.
I was so excited to embark on this project. I am incredibly proud of how the project was received, and all the feedback I received from the lucky 40 ladies on how it helped to build their self esteem and quite their negative self talk was just incredible. Lots has changed for me since writing this post originally, but I'll leave that for a different day.
Maybe its time to look at 40 over 40 project v2.
If my story resonated with you and you would like more information on what a full photoshoot experience is like with me, feel free to browse my information brochures and you can get in touch by filling out the form below if you have any questions.