Is there such a thing for women?
Yes, I guess there is. Those women I know who truly are aging gracefully are the ones who never carry on about their fading beauty, their new-found wrinkles, the sagging eyelids, their double-chins. And I do know women like this. They are the women who simply get up in the morning and get on with living a fulfilling life. But it's not easy. Everywhere we look we're bombarded with ads for anti-aging creams, teeth whitening products, hair colouring/replacement formulas. The media tells us, insists, really, that we should fight the signs of aging ~ at all costs!
This has really hit home for me in the past few years. I keep a website, and teacher-librarians often check this site before inviting me to their schools and libraries to do presentations. I have not bothered to update my author photo in about 10 years. The old one was a good photo, taken by my local newspaper, but really, I don't look like that anymore. I guess I simply didn't want to admit that to myself.
I met a lovely author in Whitehorse this spring, Shyam Selvadurai, who I only knew through his author photo. Once we met and got acquainted, I teased him about his publicity pictures, and how I'd expected to meet someone about 12 years old. He shook his head and said it was just sheer laziness that kept him from making updates.
I guess that was part of it for me, too, (laziness) but I suspect there was more to it. I say that I never take a good photo, but to be honest, it's not the photo, it's the subject. She's growing old. (See previous post.) There have been clues, loud ones, that it was time to update my on-line presence. In recent months (and years, if I'm being honest), when I've arrived at schools and libraries to do those presentations, the teacher or librarian would often do a double-take. They'd say, "Shelley? Is that you?" I could see them scanning my face, trying to find the similarities to the book-jacket photos they'd seen.
"Yes." I'd say, and smile innocently.
They try to hide their shock, and say things like, "Oh, I was expecting someone with dark hair, or someone taller, or....."
"Or someone younger?" I'd ask.
They always look sheepish, and I can only laugh. Of course they expected someone younger. My publicity photos show someone MUCH younger.
So today was the day. Daughter #2, Cara, photographer extraordinaire, took about 1000 head shots of me. I knew I would hate most of them, and I did. But there were a couple that were okay. Better than okay. Flattering, actually. I may be older, but is that character I'm seeing in that older face? And those lines around my eyes... laugh lines?
I have a new web designer and in a week or two those old author photos will be history, replaced with the new ones, and in the future, I will will try to be like my beautiful friends, the ones who accept the aging process, who don't spend ridiculous amounts of time and money to fight the inevitable. And I will not wait 10 years to replace the publicity photos. I will hire a good photographer (hopefully, Cara) and expect a few flattering shots. I will look at the aging face, and know that if I'm living a good life, it will be well-etched into my features and I hope to feel acceptance of that
In the meantime... posted are a few of Cara's photos. Didn't she do a great job?