It’s been a week of firsts for me. Here’s a big one. One of my photos is on the front cover of a magazine and my work is featured in it. Well, I’m featured in it. Here’s the thing. When I started doing this work, photographing older sportsmen and women and creating the collection that would later become my book Growing Old Competitively, I was obviously happy if anyone noticed what I was doing at all. But then I started noticing that if I was ever interviewed, I’d be asked questions about me, not just the folk I was photographing. I’d say, “can we just talk about the athletes please?” and they’d say “no, actually.” It was only when the lovely people at Growing Bolder talked to me that the penny dropped. Why would anyone be interested in what this middle-aged woman was doing rather than in the older people she was photographing? Cue light-bulb moment. This middle-aged woman in my head; ahem, where was she? Gone, that’s where. I was an old woman photographing old people and that’s where the story lay. Suck it up, Alex.
Wow. I mean, yikes.
Of course in my head I’m still thirty seven and a half. Pretty grown up but y’know, still with a lot ahead and still trying to figure it all out and most of all with different plans of what I’m going to be when I’m fully and truly grown.
And also of course: when I say ‘old woman’, and own it as I’m now coming to do, I mean it in the Hillary Clinton sense. Thanks Hillary for changing the landscape for the rest of us and letting us swim in your slipstream.
So back to the Growing Bolder piece. I am of course super-excited and super-honoured to feature in their magazine at all, let alone so prominently. I was so excited when I saw that it was out late last night, that I had to force myself not to read it till this morning as I knew I wouldn’t sleep a wink afterwards if I did. Growing Bolder is a wonderful organisation and I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with their project. They published a great postcard on their Facebook page a few days ago which sums up what they’re about: “Passion and Purpose,” it reads. “The difference between growing older and growing bolder.” Spot on, GB. You’ve nailed it again.
Everything they do is directed at redefining what it means to get older; to challenge the tired stereotypes of diminished and disempowered lives and to replace them with new messages of hope and possibility. “It’s never too late to create the life you want,” they proclaim. And I, a new ‘old woman’, need to believe this too, and I do, I so do.