What does the real body of a mature woman look like? Well lived in. Some ladies might have had pregnancies, some have stretch marks, others have scars. All of them are far away from the ‘ageless’, silver-haired and glamorous models featured on the cover of several magazines, but still ‘crunchy’ women with a mature yet interesting body for the simple reason that it represents a marker of the life they have been lucky to live.
“The very best factor about an older physique is you’re nonetheless right here; it’s received you thru a lot. Your physique tells the story of your life, a product of your genes, your well being and accidents – and all this stuff have an effect on what occurs in your life as effectively, and I wished to point out that“, says photographer Ponch Hawkes, 75, who has shot a stunning black and white series of nude portraits of around 500 mature women (all volunteers who came forward after a media call-out), resulting in a joyous representation of bodies in all shapes and sizes.
Her exhibition called ‘500 Strong‘ is a centrepiece of an exciting art program in Melbourne called ‘Flesh After Fifty‘ that celebrates women and ageing by challenging traditional representations of those ones over fifty in art, fashion, advertising and the media. In particular, with her work, Ponch aims to break the taboo that suggests mature bodies should not be seen and celebrated, documenting the normal process of ageing so often overlooked.
Asked how they felt about the photo-shoot, the women involved in her project (who brought a prop of their choice for the shooting) expressed everything from pride to fearlessness as well as being thankful for their bodies. “At this age, I am in my glory. I hold a lit chandelier because they throw glory”; “The fan is for hot flushes, the tattoo reflects making my mark and the flowers for a head and heart full of bloomings.”
Although many of us won’t be able to see the interesting project (due to COVID restrictions), the photoshoot represents a great example of how artists can help us in changing the perception of ageing.
‘Flesh after fifty’ is the brainchild of Martha Hickey, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, who through her research into menopause found women tended to think of that stage of life as an ending, rather than a beginning. She hopes to shift the narrative around older women and challenge many of the assumptions made because “women over fifty will soon be the largest sector of society“.
‘Flesh after Fifty’ runs from March 4 until April 11 at the Abbotsford Convent – Melbourne.