Capturing the (older) body beautiful: Artists celebrate ageing and femininity


I’m pleased to include this addition to my earlier post Older women as works of art: Artists celebrate older bodies and ageing femininity. Three artists, who celebrate the female body in all of its natural beauty, have recently been brought to my attention.

The photographer Alyscia Cunningham will soon release a book entitled Feminine Transitions which presents a series of portraits of girls and women aged from 7 weeks to 105 years. Taken from the website, the book “unmasks women and exquisitely demonstrates that young is beautiful, old is beautiful, and natural is beautiful”. Take a peek. The preview images show that it’s sure to be a winner.

Aleah Chapin’s recent work The Aunties Project contains a series of nude portraits of older women which capture the aged female body in a way that truly challenges the dominant western view of the body beautiful. These are really wonderful portraits.

And finally Susan Singer has a selection of female nude to view on her site which are worth a look. The work is described as one which includes “all sizes, shapes, ages, and races” so as to “give the viewer an opportunity to see real women’s authentic bodies in order to help them develop an appreciation of the glory of the human form”.  These pieces form part of a series entitled Not Barbie.

Artists have, for a long time, captured the idiosyncrasies of the human body in their work. And such work is particularly valuable in light of the images of ageing we see everyday which give derogatory or mixed messages about our bodies. Work that represents ageing in its natural form provides a challenge to dominant ideas about beauty. In my view, projects which makes visible and celebrate the diversity of physical appearance will help to prevent the perpetuation of prejudice against older women’s bodies.

Acknowledgements: thanks to the Centre for Women, Ageing and Media; Changing Aging; Alyscia Cunningham; Aleah Chapin; and Susan Singer.

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