Five years ago this month I found myself in the heart of New York City, nervously awaiting a unique experience.
I had agreed to pose nude for Angelika Buettner, a renowned professional photographer and creator of the I AM: Celebrating The Perfect Imperfect movement and coffee-table book.
“One can actually see the fear in my eyes.”
I was filled with trepidation and uncertainty when Angelika captured me on the dining room table of a KUEL woman’s Upper East Side apartment. Thoughts of self-doubt crowded my mind as I exposed my vulnerabilities to the camera lens. One can actually see the fear in my eyes. I was not a supermodel nor possessed the airbrushed perfection often depicted in magazines. Yet, at that moment, I embraced the courage to reveal my true self, imperfections and all.
Although my image didn’t make it into her book, the memories of that day still linger in my mind. I had so many mixed feelings about the results — unretouched photos showcasing my body at a weight 30 pounds heavier than my current self. I distinctly remember feeling shocked at the results and somewhat dismayed that my inner image of myself did not line up with the black-and-white digital likeness presented to me by Angelika.
It took me a while to get the courage to share them with our Kuel Life Community. As a matter of fact, I ended up writing a guest post for Angelika instead — somehow thinking that if I distanced myself from them it would be okay.
Oh, What A Difference Five Years Can Make:
“as I reflect on my decision to pose nude once again, I am struck by the stark contrast in my emotions”
So weeks before my 59th birthday, I took it all off again for the camera. Now, as I reflect on my decision to pose nude once again, I am struck by the stark contrast in my emotions. This time, I felt confident and carefree. The couple of glasses of wine surely didn’t hurt. It also helped that I was exposing myself to a dear friend whom I trust. The fact that she, in turn, posed for me also helped level the playing field – so to speak. It felt liberating to leave behind the weight of self-judgment that had burdened me years ago. And I am not talking about the literal, extra 30 pounds.
Why did I choose to expose myself to the world so vulnerably? What had changed between those two encounters? And why am I sharing it this time directly with you all?
Was it seeing Martha Stewart, 81, on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Or Jamie Lee Curtis, naked at 61, semi-hidden behind a rock? Or seeing the nude backside visage of Paulina Porizkova, 56 reflected in her bathroom mirror? I am not sure I have an answer. I feel that having these public figures lead the charge is a double-edged sword. Do we view them as aspirational or just another unattainable demarcation of capturing a woman’s beauty and essence?
Sure, famous and wealthy people can have it all, right? They can afford any and all cosmetic procedures. They have access to the best photographers, the perfect lighting, and the top editors. What does it mean when we see them unclothed? Are they really exposing themselves to us? Can we trust and be inspired to follow suit? From what I have read the pictures are not doctored — take that for what it’s worth. I decided to believe and be inspired.
What Posing Nude Meant To Me:
“By posing nude, we reclaim our bodies as works of art”
Posing nude is not simply an act of rebellion for me; it is empowering and liberating. It is a way to defy the notion that only celebrities can look and feel their best at any age.
By baring it all, I celebrate the diversity and resilience of real women as we age. In a world dominated by airbrushed images and unattainable beauty standards, it is easy to feel inadequate and invisible. But I have come to realize that our worth is not defined by external validation or the opinions of others. By posing nude, we reclaim our bodies as works of art, each line and curve telling a unique story of strength and wisdom. It is a powerful statement that we are not defined by age or the number on the scale.
The transformative journey from my first nude photo shoot to the present moment was fueled by self-acceptance and self-love – and a little vino. It required shedding the layers of insecurity and embracing the beauty that comes from within. The experience allowed me to redefine beauty on my own terms and challenge societal norms that dictate how women should look and feel.
Vulnerability Is Strength:
Through my vulnerability, I aim to inspire other women to embrace their bodies, their imperfections, and their journey through midlife and beyond. We deserve to be seen and celebrated for who we are — not in spite of our age but because of it. Posing nude is a powerful tool to reclaim our narrative and redefine the meaning of beauty.
As I stood before the camera, unconcerned, unselfconscious, and unapologetic, I realized that my decision to pose nude at almost 59 was about more than just me. It was about empowering women of all ages to rewrite the script of aging and embrace their true selves. We are vibrant, resilient, and beautiful at every stage of life.
So, I challenge you to embrace your own vulnerability. Strip away the layers of self-doubt, shame, and fabric if you so desire. Celebrate your body as it is, imperfectly perfect. Let us unite as real women, supporting and empowering each other to live this Second Act as we see fit. And if that means taking it all off for the camera, may I suggest a lovely Cabernet?