The photo was originally about the boots—my first pair of boots. It turned out to be a photo about embracing my life as a single woman, at age 62. Me as a vibrant, sexual, mostly confident woman. Me. Learning to be unapologetic and comfortable with all the aspects of my life.
I spent most of July in Santa Fe—alone. I chose to make the trip partly as an exercise in accepting and embracing my single status. It’s not been easy admitting I’m still single 10 years post-divorce. To counter the comment made to me during my divorce—one that many women are subjected to—that I failed at being a wife. And, that as a single woman there must be something wrong with me.
Add in the other things we are taught make us undesirable. Aging, our imperfect thighs, our post-menopausal, single status, and one wants to just dissolve in a puddle on the sofa with a glass of wine in one hand and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the other. Cherry Garcia, in case you’re wondering.
I’m not one for bragging, or even promoting myself (ahem, or my new book!) but I want you to take a look at the photo Louis Shackleton took of me last week—one week before my 62nd birthday. It was taken at a burlesques event/gala at the annual Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. He didn’t touch up the photo. What you’re seeing in this image is the real me.
Here’s What I See.
First I see the dimpled thigh and the it’s-not-really-that-chunky calf. I note that my lacy black bra shows. I wonder if I should have hiked up my dress that much. These all pass through my mind rather quickly and automatically. Then I look at my face, and notice it’s glowing. The gray hair and how it frames my face. The smile that says, “she’s having a good time.” I love the curves of my breasts. I see a sexiness, a sexual energy, that isn’t limited, or defined, by age. I see comfort in my body and a willingness to be a little bolder. I see the new audacity that I plan to cultivate with those expensive new boots.
What you can’t see is the male friends who walked by as the party went on in the front of the room. I remember the sigh one guy made as he paused to look at me before walking on. And the cheering gesture made by another man. Both men in my age range showing appreciation and affirmation.
I’m sharing the photo because I feel compelled to do so. I look good. I look happy and energized. What I don’t see is a sad old divorcee who is damaged goods. I’m just a woman. My age is irrelevant, and yet, it’s not. Not really. Because of my age I want to show off! I want to negate the frequent messages shared about older women. I want to bring a sense of pride to the aging process. A big f–k you to everyone who says we have to be thinner, or dye our hair, or stay hidden away with our fears about aging and wrinkles and menopause.
I spent a lot of time during my trip thinking about aging, being single and things I’ve done so far in my life. The good choices and the not-so-good choices. Here’s the thing: we get to choose how we show up in life! We can choose to feel, act, and look old. We can fight aging with drugs and expensive elixirs and things that obscure our authenticity. We can give up sex because we think we’re “past all that”. Or we can embrace our sexuality and how we show up in our daily lives.
I’m choosing to live life fully, boldly and unapologetically. What about you?