When I was 49 I had a professional photographer take nude pictures of me. Yes. Nude, as in I had no clothes on.
Also, my hair was fairly short so I wasn’t able to hide myself behind luscious locks like Lady Godiva did. Sadly, these days, sixteen years later, even her length hair wouldn’t do the trick. Gravity can be cruel.
I took those photos because my husband was always saying “You should be in Playboy Magazine!” Naturally, he added, “the women over 40 edition” but that was fine. It was realistic.
It’s like I advise my son, “Doug, never tell a woman she’s beautiful (unless she is) Tell her she’s pretty. ‘Pretty’ is possible and attainable so it doesn’t sound like a line, even if it is.
Although past my prime, Jimmy would regularly say, “You’re so sexy!” He must have had an image of me from 1972 stuck in his head. Those were the days when I could still turn heads, not stomachs, in a two-piece bathing suit.
It was exhilarating to sneak off to the Greenwich village for a rendezvous with Marie, a sophisticated french photographer.
Our first meeting was a consultation. She assured me that these black and white photos would be tasteful enough that I could hang them in our living room. Some would be headless and no one would ever imagine they were of me. (No, I never hung them. I hid them.)
On the day of the shoot I felt like I was cheating. There I was, naked and mugging into the camera, not knowing where to place my hands. Marie draped me with various strips of lace that covered bits of myself but she was never quite able to cover up my self consciousness.
Marie moved from behind the camera to outstretch my arms, turn my face towards an imaginary lover or bend my ankle so that I felt as uncomfortable on the outside as I was feeling on the inside.
Six weeks later I picked up 10 finished portraits and many 4X6 proofs of a woman desperately attempting to capture herself before she turned the dreaded fifty and fell apart. I signed a waiver stating Marie could use the headless ones in her upcoming book and was on my way.
Today I did a brave thing. I brought out the box they were stored in and took a peek. Then, I did an even braver thing. I undressed in front of a full length mirror and compared.
1. I look better in black and white.
2. Sixteen years does make a difference.
3. Happily my eyesight isn't what it used to be either...