Updated: Dec 17, 2022
A few weeks ago I was sunning on the patio and I found myself peeling off layers of clothing, before I knew it I had a camera set up to snap away at my naked body. As a model and actress I get my picture taken a lot, usually wearing designer clothes, and with a passion for photography I'm always inspired to take photos of the beautiful shapes and aesthetics that I find around me, but this time my own body became the subject of intrigue.
I'm in my early sixties now and after decades of taking great care of myself, I suddenly found it incredibly hard to control my body shape. I'm peri-menopause which is frustrating in itself, you'd think that by this age I'd be done with the hot flashes, but no, I still wake up twice a night shedding off blankets and trying to settle my tingling body. As soon as the flashes started in my early-fifties I noticed my energy level dropping and my midriff expanding, it was confusing for me. I wasn't able to go to the gym as often as I had liked, my muscles would become fatigued a lot quicker, I found that my whole workout routine slowed right down because longer recuperation time disrupted the momentum. It was constantly two steps forward and one and a half steps behind. Finally it was a strategy I had to concede too, it took a long time to surrender to the reality of my ageing body.
It was all taking its toll on my psyche, I would see images of older women with perfect physiques, or compare myself with younger women which was completely ridiculous, but it was all because I was not wanting to fall into the middle age spread syndrome that was so easily accepted. I thought how could this be happening, I was so diligent, so thoughtful with my food and exercise, I hadn't had kids to stretch or stress my body so why? Then I started modelling, way to go, my body image problems just got worse. I wasn't that confident to begin with but I enjoyed the job immensely, so I threw myself into dieting, but with lockdown and incredible cravings it became a hopeless and delusional process.
There are so many factors that go into why our bodies look the way they do, and how they change, whether it's hormonal, or trauma, or genetic, we each have our own stories to tell through our bodies. I remember when I was young my body sprang back like an elastic band but as the ageing machine started its gears the change became foreign territory, uncontrollable and disempowering. So I could either devote the rest of my life and money to retain the slender girlish figure, or I could reconcile to the limitations of my efforts. My reconciliation came after I went hunting for answers, firstly to some art exhibitions like Flesh After Fifty and various Instagram accounts like Tyran Brumfitt's @bodyimagemovement and her wonderful documentary. I didn't think much about all the content I was consuming on the subject at the time, in fact I felt that my efforts weren't getting anywhere... until one day I started to take photo's of my body and I posted it on my social media.
It wasn't easy, I thought about it for a while, but I felt the need to let others know that it was ok to not have the perfect body that I had dreamt of and instead that I was proud of my efforts to at least try to achieve a healthy, fit and limber body, and that I wasn't going to stress about it anymore. I found a message came through to my subconscious from all the ground work I'd done that it was important to love myself just the way I was, I was sick of being obsessive or complaining about my dissatisfaction, it was futile and annoying I'm sure. It doesn't mean I've given up, it just means that I have accepted the change and to go with it, and not stress what I don't have anymore, but work with what I do have, and find my way to achieve my own personal goals, as they say, its the journey, not the destination that is important, so why not enjoy the journey as much as possible, life is too short not to.