I’m 71 years old (yikes, that happened quickly), and since graduating from college, marrying and moving out of my parents’ house 50 years ago, I’ve never been financially supported by a man. I’ve earned my own money for half a century, and continue to work as hard as I ever have. That’s not what I was brought up to do, but that’s what’s happened.
And, I confess that while I thrive on work, and am proud of myself for forging a fairly successful career, I’m envious of women who don’t have the pressures, challenges and anxieties that working inevitability brings, not to mention the worries about supporting a family. When I see young women pushing strollers down the streets of Manhattan, or anywhere else, in the middle of the day, I remember what a different life I led when I was their age. And when I see a woman of my generation pushing her grandchild’s stroller down the street in the middle of the day, I think what a different life I lead now.
Of course, when I snap back into reality, I know I would have hated endlessly pushing a stroller down the street and going to playgrounds while my husband earned money and had a successful career. But recognizing that still doesn’t stop me from wishing I could have eliminated the angst I’ve felt for decades, about everything from making sales quotas to writing thousands of articles on deadline, from strategizing how to beat competition to putting up with more insufferable bosses, clients, coworkers and employees than I care to count.
I wonder, do women whose husbands financially support them, happily and heartily, feel differently deep down than women who support themselves or their families? Do they look enviously at women who work, wishing they could have calm lunches, grown-up conversions, and their own money?
Are some of us simply born to be full-time mothers, while others push proposals instead of strollers? Or do our circumstances propel us in such diverse directions?
I had a luncheon meeting yesterday with two young men, both of whom had twins. One set of twins is only two years old, and when I asked that man if his wife “works,” he chuckled and answered, “my wife would say she does!”
With children comes great responsibility. With a career comes great responsibility. Worlds of women manage to have both, whether out of necessity or out of desire. I applaud any woman who works hard at either, or balances the two.
I vividly remember watching Bill Cosby’s one-man show in the garish nightclub at a Las Vegas hotel in the mid eighties. My boss and I were in LV for a trade show, and he invited me to go with him to see the famous comedian. Cosby was spectacularly funny that night. (I needed a good laugh, considering my date!) Even if we didn’t know how he acted off stage, didn’t we all assume he was like the adorable and affable Dr. Huxtable he portrayed on TV?
We’ve since met the real Bill Cosby, thanks to the scores of women who stepped forward to accuse him of drugging and raping them. And, today we saw him being led out of the courtroom, handcuffed, after being sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for his crimes. No matter how much relief some of his accusers felt after the judge handed down Cosby’s sentence, no one was laughing.
We’ve all heard countless times how a powerful and famous person can become divorced from “reality.” Yessed from dawn to dusk by hangers-on. Adored by fans. Sought after by friends–even foes. But how does the comprehension of right and wrong fly out the window? How is it that famous people don’t learn from the tragedies that often befell famous people who came before them? Why don’t they take even a couple of minutes a day to reflect how they could lose everything in a flash?
When powerful wrongdoers get away with bad behavior for years on end, they probably start believing that they’re “immune” from getting caught. Bernie Madoff. Bonnie and Clyde. A criminal attorney I know often told me that big-time drug dealers never think they’ll be apprehended, but “they usually are,” he added. Cosby sexually abused women for decades. Did he even once look at himself in the mirror the morning after any of these episodes and see anything but a rich, famous and adored man? Did he ever have a moment of remorse? Did he ever seek help from a therapist?
After miscreants are collared, why do so many of them deny wrongdoing? They don’t just demurely deny the error of their ways. They deeply dig in their heels. They point their fingers at their accusers. They smirk. They scoff. They trot out their supporters, including the very wives they’ve betrayed. Surely, Camille Cosby at least suspected her husband of decades was up to “something” at some point. Or did she turn the proverbial blind eye to his ways with women because he gave her a life of luxury–and laughs?
I imagine 81-year-old Bill Cosby living in jail, legally blind (perhaps a blessing, considering his environment), and destined to spend what could be the rest of his life denied the freedom he enjoyed most of his life. But “freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being,” Eleanor Roosevelt said. “With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”
Bill Cosby carried his own weight, but not quite in the way the esteemed Mrs. Roosevelt meant.
Before you read this blog, please put aside your political affiliations. I’d like you to read it as a WOMAN, not as a “Republican,” “Democrat” or “Independent.”
I assume you know that a man named Brett Kavanaugh has been nominated to become a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. I also assume you know that a woman named Christine Blasey Ford has come forward accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both high school students at private schools in Maryland. Christine Blasey was 15 when she ran into 17-year-old BrettKavanaugh at a summer party, she said, where he and a friend of his corralled her into a room, then Kavanaugh pinned her down, groped her and attempted to remove her one-piece bathing suit. When she tried to scream, she claimed he covered her mouth with his hands. When Kavanaugh’s friend jumped on top of them, they all tumbled to the floor, and Blasey managed to escape to a bathroom.
Kavanaugh and his friend were “stumbling drunk,” said Ford, who holds a doctorate and is a clinical psychology professor at a California university, as well as a biostatistician who designs and analyzes clinical trials.
Ford passed a lie detector test about the episode. Kavanaugh and his friend at the time unequivocally deny the story.
First, let’s assume Ford is telling the truth. If Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, were indeed “stumbling drunk,” they might not have remembered the incident the next day, no less decades later. On the other hand, a young man who is “stumbling drunk” at 17 might very well have groped a young woman. Regardless, surely Kavanaugh knows if he drank heavily back then. If he drank heavily one time, isn’t the likelihood great that he drank heavily more than once?
According to an article in motherjones.com, former friend Judge wrote a book–God and Man at Georgetown Prep–where he said alcoholism was rampant at the private school he and Kavanaugh attended. And, he chronicles his time as a teenage alcoholic in another book, writing that his own blackout drinking while he and Kavanaugh were Georgetown Prep students “reached the point where once I had the first beer, I found it impossible to stop until I was completely annihilated.”
So, what do you think of Kavanaugh’s absolute denial, which implies that Ford is a liar? Should he, like Judge, have admitted he drank at parties when he was a Georgetown Prep student, but maintained he’d never have done anything like she asserted he did?
Should our misdeeds and misjudgments as teenagers hurt us as adults? If something egregious happened 36 years ago, but the facts never surfaced until now, should we dismiss it today?
Do you think that Ford is flat out lying, on the other hand, because she doesn’t want Kavanaugh to become a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States? Do you believe a woman could be so vindictive as to make up a story about something that happened 36 years ago, using such specific details?
When it’s a question of he said, she said, what makes you believe one person or the other?
When I was 18, I went out with a guy who was around 23 and a senior at New York University, where I was entering as a freshman. I can tell you his name, what he looked like, and I distinctly remember that he told me Barbra Streisand had been his classmate at a Brooklyn high school (that impressed me no end, since I was in love with Barbra!). When we pulled up to my parents’ house in his car, he kissed me and put my hand on his crotch, which felt hard as a rock. Being an 18-year-old virgin (this was 1965, ladies!), I recoiled, and promptly called an end to the date.
If I remember every detail of that incident 53 YEARS LATER, isn’t it entirely possible that Ford remembers every detail of her encounter with Kavanaugh, which would have been many times more chilling for her than mine was for me?
Personally, I am torn what to think. It’s horrible if either Ford’s accusation or Kavanaugh’s denial is a blatant lie, more loathsome if one is telling the truth and the other is lying.
Ford and Kavanaugh were invited to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, but Ford’s attorney wrote a letter to the committee stating that her client only wants to testify after the FBI conducts an investigation. The head of the committee implied that if Ford doesn’t show up on Monday, he will still go ahead and hold the vote on Kavanaugh.
There’s no telling what could happen between now and Monday.
When the critical care doctor brought Rigby to me last Wednesday for our final goodbye, my heart broke apart seeing his sedated body wrapped in a blanket. I couldn’t bare to look directly into his adorable face but I held his head in my hands as the doctor first flushed the catheter and then administered the overdose of anesthesia that would still his heart forever. It took only a few minutes, but they were excruciating because a piece of my heart went with him and I still hurt today, over a week later, in a way that I never would have dreamt possible.
I hurt because it was painful seeing Rigby so vulnerable. And I hurt because I now realize that when he’d frequently stop in his tracks during our walks the last few months, he wasn’t being stubborn Rigby. Something was happening in his lungs and he needed to regroup.
His lungs were in good shape in April, when we had them x-rayed. It was the mitral valve in his heart that had lost some function, a fairly common genetic condition in Norfolk Terriers. The cardiologist didn’t think Rigby needed any kind of treatment yet. When Rigby became sluggish last Monday, and wasn’t anxiously racing to get to his bowl of food, I became worried, thinking his heart had taken a turn for the worse.
We went to the hospital on Tuesday, but the X-rays showed that Rigby’s lungs, not his heart, were under stress. They needed to find out why and get him into an oxygen tent to help him breathe more comfortably. They also started him on antibiotics In case had had pneumonia or some other infection.
Rigby stayed at the hospital overnight, and things were looking up the next day. It appeared the medication and oxygen therapy were working, but they still wanted to learn what was up in his lungs. He’d be in the hospital at least another day, the doctor told me, but if he continued to progress he’d be able to come home in a day.
We never found out what was wrong. The doctor called me at 7 last Wednesday evening to tell me Rigby had taken a turn for the worse. She was starting him on new medications, but if he didn’t improve during the next half hour, she didn’t want to hook him up to a device so he could breathe.
Although Rigby is no longer here with me, I still feel his “presence.” I think of him lying in the small bathroom to keep cool, while I worked in the living room. I think of him in his round corduroy bed on the floor in my bedroom, where he’d curl up when we retired upstairs each night. I think of him eyeing every morsel of food I ate, waiting for me to share it with him. I think of him when I was getting ready to go out and he’d look at me with soulful eyes because he knew he wasn’t joining me.
Rigby wasn’t a cuddly, affectionate dog, but he didn’t have a mean bone in his body, and he’d wag his little tail even when he must have been in distress.
We brought Rigby home with us when he was five months old, and his heart stopped beating when he was almost 12. I understand now how most people feel when a pet is gone. I knew a woman who had three cats, but when she developed allergies she “got rid” of the cats without a moment’s hesitation or sadness. They were better off without her.
I believe there are three types of people when it comes to helping others:
Type 1: Those who never help at all, under any circumstances. You could be lying on the street, bleeding to death, and they’d pass by as if you weren’t there.
Type 2: Those who help ONLY when it’s convenient for them. You could be lying on the street, bleeding to death, and they’d come to your aid if they weren’t in a rush. However, they’d pass you right by if they were on the way to a very important date, maybe even to a not-so-important date.
Type 3: Those who will help you, even if their acts of kindness inconvenience them. You could be lying in the street, bleeding to death, and they’d come to your aid, even if they had a horrible day and couldn’t wait to get home to have a stiff martini.
Type 3 is a rare person, but it’s a godsend when one of them helps you out of a nightmare experience. So, without further ado, here’s the story of the godsend who came to my rescue last Wednesday, after scammers took over the FabOverFifty Facebook page, and we could no longer post a thing. How it happened is a long story, and it was totally our fault, but it happened, and that’s what counts.
Our Facebook page has 522,000 followers, and it’s an important part of our business. When we saw the page was no longer ours, Simone (my daughter, who works with me) started to communicate with Facebook over text message. It’s impossible to talk–as in saying words with your mouth–directly to anyone at Facebook. All communication is done online, at least with companies who don’t have gigantic advertising budgets!
Frantically, I began reaching out, via email and phone, to people I know whose companies do spend a great deal of money placing ads on Facebook. Perhaps they have access to real people there, I thought. No one responded right away, and I was becoming more and more frantic. Plus, I noticed that many of our old Facebook posts had been removed. I felt as if my baby had been kidnapped. Then, a soft porn post popped up on our page, that linked to a strange website in a far off land. We were headed for big trouble.
At last, I reached Robert (not his real name), and he sprung into action immediately, calling an ad agency he knew that worked directly with Facebook reps (real people) all the time. But, that’s not where his help ended. He consistently stayed on top of the situation, even though he has a big (new) job running digital advertising for an important brand. He tried to figure out how to get our page back. He called me when he got home from work to try and put my mind at ease. He assured me that a Facebook team was working on the problem, although he hadn’t yet heard back from his contacts at the ad agency.
By the next morning, Robert still hadn’t received word from his contacts. Although he had work-related meetings most of the day, he made sure to stay in touch with me via email. Finally, word from Facebook came that afternoon. We had to supply them with notarized documentation that we indeed owned the page. Simone and I completed the paperwork in record time. I raced to the notary a block from my house, and scanned the notarized documents back to Robert.
Strange posts continued to appear on our page throughout the day. I slept fitfully again that night.
On Friday morning, about 36 hours after the ordeal started, Robert received this email from Facebook:
“Thanks again for having Geri send over those documents so quickly. Our Pages team reviewed the request and has successfully released ownership of the Page from the unauthorized Business Manager. We have also taken action on the offending Business Manager and permanently disabled it for fraud.”
Iwanted to fly to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA, and kiss the “Pages team.” But it was Robert who I really wanted to thank. And, he continued to help over the weekend, working on our page so it had extra security and making sure that only people we knew had access to the page to publish posts.
When I asked Robert why he was doing so much to help us, he answered “I thought that I wouldn’t want my mother to be in the same situation.” Robert’s mom is a lucky lady. So am I.
Can you tell whether you’re going to have the “grandmother gene” before you become a grandmother? That’s the gene that turns you into a cooing, cuddling, calming, cheering, chuckling lady, who can’t get enough of your grandchildren.
“I’m obsessed with him,” my friend Terry told me about her toddler grandson. A loving wife and mother of one son, Terry’s had a successful advertising career, now owns an online vintage apparel shop, and is soon launching a style consulting service. So while she knew she’d fall in love with her grandson the moment she laid eyes on him, she never dreamed she’d be so consumed with him. “I can’t get enough of him,” she laughed.
My sister Shelley also uses the word “obsessed” when she talks about her feelings for her four-year-old grandson, Sammy. He gives her pure and absolute joy. Shelley couldn’t wait to be a grandmother, and jokes that she loves her grandson more than her own sons. “Maybe it’s because I can go home at the end of the day,” she said.
My friend Hane has babysat for her toddler grandson since he was an infant, traveling almost an hour to her daughter’s house as often as three times a week. “Maybe I love doing it because I wasn’t a devoted mother,” Hane told me.
Lately, my Facebook timeline has been packed with as many gushing posts of grandchildren as of cats and dogs. Boomers are becoming grandparents by the droves, and proudly show off their grandkids moments after they enter the world, and at every milestone.
When these posts pop up in my timeline, I pass right by them. I adore many of the women who are gushing grandmothers, and I hope these children delight them all the days of their lives, but I’d rather see a kitty opening a kitchen cabinet than a six-month-old smearing bananas over his high chair.
So what’s wrong with me? I love my 5-year-old grandson with every fiber in my body. I’ve dropped everything many times to be with him when my daughter couldn’t leave work or had other issues that prevented her from staying home with him when he was sick or on vacation. He’s spent many weekends at my house. I think he’s a great-looking kid, and sharp as a whip. I adore the photos of him that his parents post to a private album.
I’d lay down my life for him in a nanosecond.
BUT, I’m not so obsessed with my grandson that I must share his comings and goings with anyone outside of our family. Why do they care when he took his first step, said his first word, hit his first baseball? Does it make me a better grandmother if I do share?
Multitudes of young mothers post so many photos of their kids on Facebook pages that I sometimes think it’s their way of validating their motherhood. Sure, they might be marvelous mothers, but is something else at play here?
If grandmothers overshare, is it for the same reason?
Am I overthinking this? Am I guilty because I don’t do the same? Am I an under par grandmama?
This is a “sponsored post.” ChromaDex compensated FOF with an advertising sponsorship to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we believe will be helpful for our readers. All insights and expressed opinions are our own. —Geri Brin
No matter how many anti-aging lotions and potions I rub into my skin, it’s unlikely that I’m going to wake up one day soon, glance in the mirror, and see my 30-old-face staring back at me. But the burgeoning nutritional supplement market, estimated at a whopping $20+ billion, consistently promises it can help me live healthier–and feel younger. Although I’d be willing to keep my crow’s feet and laugh lines, in exchange for feeling as tip-top as I did decades ago, so many supplement claims seem downright absurd!
I wanted to learn more, so I arranged for an interview with Dr. Charles Brenner, the scientist behind this discovery, and asked him to explain his discovery in non-scientific terms. If a highly educated scientist hoped to teach me anything, he had to make it simple. Biology was my worst subject in high school!
If I had been a young woman anytime from 1915 to 1945, and Pablo Picasso was attracted to me, I would have jumped into bed with him (all 5’ 4” of him), probably had a long-term affair, and become distraught by his inability to truly commit himself to me.
I just watched Genius, a National Geographic Network series about Picasso, and was enthralled—but not surprised—by his spell over women. He was stimulating. Smart. Sexy. Wealthy. And famous. But he usually lost interest in women whom he had once passionately pursued, and would often have two lovers simultaneously. Two of his mistresses once physically fought over him, which he enjoyed watching. One of the women was Dora Maar, a renowned photographer, poet and painter, who was Picasso’s mistress for nine years. She was so in love with him that she actually went crazy, and underwent electroshock treatments, when he rejected her. The other woman, a model with whom Picasso had a daughter, committed suicide four years after his death.
Picasso married twice, the first time to a Russian ballerina with whom he had a son. She took the child and left him when she learned his mistress was pregnant, but Picasso wouldn’t divorce her because he didn’t want to share his fortune, which included his paintings. Besides, he no longer desired her.
Francoise Gilot, a mistress with whom Picasso had a 10-year-affair and two children, was an entirely different story. Herself a gifted artist, she wanted to achieve fame for her talent, not just for being Picasso’s lover. Four decades younger than Picasso, Francoise left him when he became increasingly tyrannical and cold. “ ‘I wanted a bit more affection, maybe; not love, but affection. So anyway, I was not satisfied,’ ” she told an interviewer for The Guardian newspaper two years ago. Picasso and Francoise became estranged, meeting only once more a year later, when she handed over their children for a visit.
When the interviewer asked Francoise if leaving Picasso was liberating, she answered, “No, because I was not a prisoner. I’d been there of my own will and I left of my own will.” Before she left, Francoise told Picasso that she came when she wanted and would leave when she wanted. He answered, “nobody leaves a man like me.”
Francoise, now 96 and living between Paris and New York, has achieved fame in her own right. Paloma Picasso, a businesswoman and jewelry designer, is her daughter, and Claude Picasso, a movie director, is her son.
I would not have been as strong as Francoise. Would you?
I always enjoyed chatting with Karen when we’d sit next to each other while we had manicures or pedicures, or when we’d run into each other in the street. We knew each other for years, but we really didn’t know each other.
“Karen died last week,” Angela told me as she was applying polish to my nails.
I was incredulous. I hadn’t seen Karen in a couple of months, but that wasn’t unusual since our mani appointments often didn’t coincide. Turns out Karen had cancer. She had it years ago, Angela said, and it was in remission, but the cancer returned. She chose not to tell anyone, certainly not acquaintances.
Darlene (not her real name) is different than Karen. They’re polar opposites, at least when it comes to publicly discussing their illness. Darlene has metastasized cancer, and talks about it often, at least on her Facebook page. She shares information about her experimental treatments, asks for help getting to and from her appointments, and calls out people whom she regards as callous towards her.
“Some of you just watch me, lots of you help me, and some of you are scared of my raw feelings and how I express them. This is me (on cancer). I ain’t changing now,” she recently commented on Facebook. Having cancer has actually made her an “extrovert,” she wrote.
Why do some of us share our feelings, with just about anyone, when we’re most vulnerable, while others wouldn’t dare? I have a few thoughts on the subject.
Sharing makes us feel even more vulnerable. When we tell others about something bad or unpleasant that has befallen us, it might make us look less in control of ourselves and the situation. A successful, controlling woman I knew never would admit to problems she was having at work because she always had to appear “in charge.” Being “in charge” gave her leverage over others, which she didn’t want to lose.
When my aunt was dying of colorectal cancer, she steadfastly avoided the subject simply because she couldn’t face it, even to her family.
Sharing opens us up to hearing things that we’d prefer not to hear.I think most of us would agree that we don’t know what to say to someone who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, or had some other horrible thing happen to him or her. “People always ask me ‘how do you feel?’” a woman with cancer told me. “How do they think I feel?” she rhetorically said. Or, they’ll go into detail about what happened to someone else they know with the same disease; offer non-stop medical advice, or give us disingenuous offers of help.
Openly sharing makes us feel less lonely. Although some of us would prefer not to hear every last detail about an acquaintance’s sickness or other problem, it might actually be a relief for her or him to discuss it. Sharing, however, is different than oversharing. “The difference between being authentic and oversharing stems from your intentions. In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown summed up the difference by saying, ‘Using vulnerability is the not the same thing as being vulnerable; it’s the opposite—it’s armor,’” wrote psychotherapist Amy Morin on www.forbes.com.
Amy says some people might “cross the line (sometimes unintentionally)” from being authentic to being oversharers togain sympathy. “If you share your mistakes in an effort to help others learn, you are being authentic. If, however, you share your hardships to gain pity, you’re oversharing,” she said.
Oversharers often want to relieve the anxiety they feel when “pain is raw,” and it feels like everyone sees something is “wrong with you,” Amy noted. “Oversharers relieve their anxiety by revealing their pain. Authentic people, however, tolerate that anxiety and carefully consider whether it’s good idea to share,” she explained.
If you care to share your personal feelings about this subject, I’d love to hear from you.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling brave, I’ll take a peek at my nude 71-year-old body in the mirror. I’ll critically study my drooping breasts and underarms, torso that more resembles a pot-belly stove than a washboard, and dimpled legs. Doesn’t make an alluring picture, I think. Or would it? My aging body may not look like it did when I was 40, or even 50, but aside from the fact that it wouldn’t hurt if I shed 20 pounds, it’s my body and why shouldn’t I like it? It may be far from “perfect,” but who really gets to decide what perfect means anyway? Isn’t beauty supposed to be in the eye of the beholder?
“Women don’t accept what we see in the mirror like men do. A man can be fat, paunchy and have no hair, and he’ll look at his image and think he’s a stud,” said 69-year-old cardiologist-turned-photographer Judith Monteferrante. Funny, but sadly true. So, Judith decided to make it her mission to help aging women “feel comfortable in their own bodies” by publishing a book of nude photographs of real women over 50 years old. The Nude Matured: Body and Spirit features women “who accept their bodies, even if they weren’t genetically blessed and don’t have gym memberships,” Judith told me.
“As a cardiologist, I shared the daily life experiences of my patients, with all their joys, sorrows, and fears as well as the adrenaline rush of life and death crises. I watched their struggles with intimacy, loneliness, and vulnerability, and it has changed me,” Judith beautifully states in the introduction to the book.
“The Nude Matured projectexplores the hidden beauty of aging and the soft sophistication of the beautiful older woman, accepting and often celebrating her desirability in this image-driven age of unachievable perfection,” she explains.
It was stimulating to talk to Judith, and to learn how her project evolved. She, and her book, will make you think about your body differently, if you don’t already do.
Please tell us a little about your career before you became a photographer.
“After secretarial high school I got a master’s degree in nursing, practiced for five years, and then went to medical school and became a cardiologist. I was the first female cardiologist in Westchester County, NY.”
What interested you about becoming a cardiologist?
“I became a cardiologist because of air conditioning. After nursing school in Buffalo, I went into pediatric nursing in the pediatric medical surgical unit at Buffalo General Hospital. I had to wear gowns and and give medication to children under 12 months old. The unit had no air conditioning, and there was so much humidity in Buffalo because it’s on a lake. I couldn’t do it anymore, so I went to the cardiology unit, which had air conditioning because they didn’t want the heat to stress the patients. After working there I wanted to go to medical school for cardiology.”
How did you go from cardiology to photography?
“When I retired nine years ago, at 60, my husband wanted to move to Gloucester, MA, where we had a home for 25 years, but I didn’t want to get another license and start another practice. I wanted a change, but to feel comfortable about taking another path.
“I grew up in an artistic family. My mother did arts and crafts, and my father was an art director for an ad agency on Madison Avenue who taught me how to see, and explain what I felt when I looked at something. I had been a photographer for quite a while, so I decided to apply to the School of Visual Arts in New York, and I got in. There I learned digital skills, marketing, processing and printing.”
Why did you decide to photograph nude older women?
“I do a lot of still life and floral photography. I really love flowers. But when I thought I’d submit dramatically photographed florals for my master’s thesis at SVA, my professor discouraged me. So, I started doing older nudes, with flowers as props. John Coplan, a British photographer, did bold nude self portraits when he was in his late 70s, but no one had looked at nude older women. All the major books of nude photography showed beautiful, younger women.
“Why couldn’t I make older women look beautiful just by the way I photographed them? I didn’t want to use perfect models. I didn’t want to touch up anyone. I didn’t get rid of cellulite. I wanted to show the women the way they were, and to use light to caress them. Different types of lighting brought out different aspects of each woman. The women felt wonderful about themselves. They were proud of their bodies.
“Another student, who was photographing young male and female dancers, and I rented a studio together. He’d be my assistant one day and I’d be his the next day. His nudes would walk around naked all day, flaunting their sexuality, and the mine wore robes.
“We shared the award for best student that year.”
Where did you find the women to photograph?
“A 68-year-old woman came through the school’s modeling agency, and she got all the other women, many of whom were art models and knew each other. One woman was undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, and she wanted to show how important it is to be accepting of your body.”
Did you have a mentor?
“My mentor was Robert Farber, who photographed gorgeous models and used soft lighting in his book The Natural Beauty. I liked his work and called and asked him to be my advisor, and he said sure. I met with him many, many times. He was an inspiration.”
So, your book was originally published nine years ago?
“I self published the book in 2009, but added a few new photos for the updated version, which is from Lulu Publishing. This edition shares the thoughts and emotions felt by the women during the project. One woman said: ‘Women have to get over the fact that they think being perfect is so important. They have to get over it! Being genuine and understanding is very important.’”
Do you still live in Gloucester?
“My second husband of 30 years and I live on the water in Gloucester for half the year and in Scottsdale, AZ, for the other half. He was a plastic surgeon who ran a burn reconstruction unit.”
You can purchase the soft cover version of The Nude Matured: Body and Spirit on www.amazon.com, and the hardcover book on the Lulu website.