Why I Believe Women Over 40 Ought to Be In Pictures and Why You Should Too

When I was in my twenties I didn’t think much about the world around me, or at least I didn’t with the same ferocity that I do now. I wasn’t truly interested in changing anyone or anything, except maybe me. My focus towards change was certainly more inward, as is true for a lot of young people. It’s hard enough trying to get your own stuff straight, never mind trying to shatter perceptions and misconceptions. On top of being a “twenty-something”,  I was a young mom too and to be honest I just didn’t really have time for any of that. 

Now to be fair I wasn’t oblivious, I was pretty well read and I spoke up so much in my political science classes in undergrad that I remember someone once said that someday they expected to see me on the steps of the capital fighting for…well anything. I had lots of thoughts about lots of things. And while  I wanted that prediction to be true, outside of those classroom walls, I was just a mom, daughter, sister and friend trying to keep all of my balls in the air. 

But now that I’m older, I have even more thoughts about even more things and one of those things is truly loving the stage I’m in. My 20’s were a blur. Lots of mistakes, lots of hustling to try to set things right and lots of love being given to everyone but me. 

I didn’t document much of my twenties either. There are pictures of some things-thank goodness and no pictures of others (thank goodness for that too.) But just like many of you, as soon as I hit my groove-That point in our lives where things make sense, where we feel pretty good about who we are and what we’re doing-I like many of you got the message that we weren’t supposed to be seen anymore. We were quite literally expected to take ourselves out of the photos. And so we delegated ourselves to be the picture taker.

 I’ve had so many friends tell me they don’t want their picture taken. “I haven’t been in a family photo for years!” one woman told me. “I’d never post a selfie,” said another. “Nobody wants to see that!” Except they do…Or at least I know I do. The reason we don’t think our photos deserve a space is that we often don’t see ourselves represented anywhere. In the past decade, women over 40 gradually faded from ads, from television and movies-unless we’re playing someone’s mother. And for some women who are also underrepresented, they were never really there at all. But there’s a shift that’s been happening recently and we have a chance to jump on board and change the tide too. 

This year Tyra Banks is gracing the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 23 years after she made her initial debut, and Paulina Porizkova appears 36 years later (sporting a bikini and wrinkles to boot ) and while yes, I know these are women who hit the genetic lottery and many people associate SI with  objectification and the Male Gaze, but the reality is that even supermodels didn’t have a real place anywhere in print media (after about the age of 30) before now.

I think social media is helping change this which means we are at the helm. I’ve talked about why I believe that social media is changing the beauty standard before. I wrote about how we get to choose what’s beautiful, instead of having it spoon fed to us and how we get to stand up and push back on the slanted view of what it means to be a woman who doesn’t fit the narrow standard. 

And, even if you aren’t feeling all “power to the people” like I am. I hope that no matter how old you are or what you identify as, that you believe that you deserve to be seen. That your family wants you in the photos. That, other women who look like you want you in the photo and here’s why YOU should want you in the photos.

Not only are you helping to change the beauty standard and let people know how fabulous it is to be__(insert whatever diverse underrepresented category you fit into- over 40, women of color, plus size, etc)  but you’re also documenting your life. Pictures do that for us. I miss my dad and my grandma like crazy and I run my fingers across their pictures all the time. It’s a part of what they’ve left behind. I don’t want to just see them young and spry. I want the full picture (pun fully intended) And, no matter what you think of yourself right now I guarantee you that in 20 years you’ll look back and realize just how good you looked, so snap away!!

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I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’d really love to see your pics!

P.S check out the hashtag #ShowUs on IG-I recently did a sponsored post with O, The Oprah Magazine and three other OMagInsiders and I loved hearing what they had to say about media and beauty representation too! 

Until next post,

Xo

Tonya Parker 

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I'm a counselor, author and certified life coach who believes in helping women look and feel their best! Brand ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine and author of Single Mom Chic

11 thoughts on “Why I Believe Women Over 40 Ought to Be In Pictures and Why You Should Too

  1. For the last 20 years of her life, my mother did not allow me or anyone else to take her picture. She passed away last year and I don’t have any pictures of a huge chunk of her time on this Earth. And she was BEAUTIFUL, really, really beautiful. I am so glad you wrote this and I hope everyone reading it thinks twice and lets their family and friends snap those pictures. Trust me, you’ll be saving someone extra sadness someday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My Mother, who will be 65 this year, absolutely doesn’t like having her picture taken. She asked me not to post pictures of her on social media. I rarely do but it was Mother’s Day. She’s the most beautiful woman on the planet to me so I told her she’s out of luck and I’m not taking it down, lol! I don’t have many pictures of is together because she doesn’t like being photographed. It’s sad really so I take pictures when she’s not paying attention. I personally love taking pictures, my Mother blessed me with her amazing photogenic gene. Plus, my brother is a photographer so I’m used to having my photo taken alot. I love seeing pictures of people all ages all colors. I love photography. Great post my friend

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  3. You know by now I have a love mostly hate relationship with the camera. I am starting to relax a bit but first I had to stop dragging the baggage around that made me camera shy in the first place. My family and friends deserve more than angry stares in Family photos. I had to realize that all the things said to dishonor me in my formative years were not mine to own. Hurtful words carry great power and have the potential to instill self-doubt. It has and continues to be a lesson to grow from. I have my fathers smile he was not around for my formative years. I looked at his picture on my grandparents mantle everyday as a child. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I saw my reflection. Same closed mouth, same tight lipped smile, although he did seem more jovial in his military photo. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject you’ve inspired me once again 🥰 baby steps but I am working on relaxing my jawline and showing a toothy smile 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your honest share! Hurtful words can carry great power but i’m inspired by your self-reflection and your willingness to take baby steps. We are all works in progress. I also really love that you have those pictures of your dad to help you make that correlation. I’m looking forward to that upcoming toothy smile! xo

      Liked by 1 person

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