In January 2007, in the early years of this blog, I wrote a post titled, “Don’t call me a ‘little old lady'”!” Thirteen years later, my feelings have completely changed. Here’s what I wrote then:
I’m always surprised by how acceptable it is in our society to call older people disparaging names.
I was reading a newspaper article today about Barack Obama’s popularity in Illinois, which quoted Emil Jones Jr, president of the Illinois Senate, as saying, “Sitting across the table from me was a little old lady, said she was 86 years old,” who hoped she’d live long enough to vote for Obama for President.
I was startled by reading this mature woman described as “a little old lady,” and I didn’t like it. OK, I’m little (4′ 10″), 63 years old, and female — but “little old lady” belittles my maturity and experience and sounds like it would be uttered while patting me on the head. Didn’t the 86-year-old elder deserve a more dignified description? If she had been male, would she have been described by Mr. Jones as “an old geezer”?
…I know there’s no consensus about what to call older people without offending us! I like the term “senior,” although I know some dislike it. I like “elder” because it connotes wisdom and sounds respectful, even reverent — but I don’t feel old enough to deserve being called an elder. “Mature” is a nice adjective, though “mature adult” sounds stilted.
Here’s how I feel now: If a little old lady can make her living writing and speaking about senior sex — which I do — and keep her body strong by teaching line dancing, practicing Pilates, and walking miles a day — all of which I do — then go ahead and call me a “little old lady.”
I feel I can own, even enjoy, being called “little old lady” at this time of my life. I’m little (4’10”) and old (76), and my life is thrilling, so what’s the problem? I’ve also grown into the term “elder” (though not “elderly,” please).
When Gloria Steinem turned 40 and a reporter told her she didn’t look 40, she said, “This is what 40 looks like!” We continue to redefine what aging looks like, feels like, and acts like. Join me!
Q to you: How do you feel about being called “senior,” “old,” and so on? I invite you to comment. You’ll see 18 comments from the first post — let’s add to those. I know we won’t all agree, so please disagree politely.
“Using my camera to pry deeper into woman’s psyches, I started to photograph timeless beauty, trying to capture what lies beneath the skin, woman’s hidden desires, and hidden conflicts. I am motivated to help women overcome their inhibitions and insecurities about their bodies. I believed if I could persuade enough women to let themselves be photographed naked, I could prove to them and prove to the whole world, ageless beauty does exist. Women over 40 and 50 and 60 and even women in their 80’s and 90’s radiate from within and are beautiful at every age.”
— Angelika Buettner
I AM is a book of nude photographs of 121 women between the ages of 40 and 100, and it’s so much more. Photographer Angelika Buettner celebrates these women — their beauty, wisdom, humor, and audacity. From the first page, this book shines with a celebration of women’s beauty as they age. No makeovers, no retouching: these are women celebrating their time of life — their authenticity, self-acceptance, and joy. I AM kicks at our outdated notion that we age out of beauty and desirability. Quite the contrary, as Angelika Buettner and her 121 brave women illustrate.
Each page of photographs glows with images of the splendor of aging. The women proudly bare their wrinkles and loose skin; their large breasts, small breasts, breasts that droop, or maybe no breasts at all. But the point is that they are at home in their bodies, proud and courageous in their skin. What a lesson we can learn from them!
Buettner explains her mission:
It’s been my passion, my intuition, my vision, my desire, my obsession, and my quest to reveal and showcase ageless beauty of women over 40 to make us all more visible. Using my camera as a therapeutic tool and instrument of social commentary, I have attempted to capture, something raw and refined, edgy and elegant, honest and pure. Naked portraits of strong women who dare to step out of their comfort zone…
We, meaning, the women over 40, who are ready to own their sensuality without being sexualized, stand naked and bare it all. There is no judgement involved in how our bodies look when we see into each other’s souls. We accept we are all goddesses.
We are so much more than our bodies.
We can celebrate our pasts, nourish our present selves and relish what our futures will hold.
In Buettner’s words, “Each picture has a story to be told.” Lucky for us, we get glimpses of those stories. Each woman speaks in prose or poetry about what “I AM” means to her personally. For example, this from Ruth, age 100:
There is great power in this book. If you’re looking for a special Valentine’s gift for a lover or yourself, I urge you to splurge on I AM, a gorgeous book that you’ll be proud to display on your coffee table for all to see. Buettner put 7 years into making this project a reality, and she spared no expense making the finished product stunning — a big book (12″ x 9″ hardcover, weighing 4 pounds) on thick, glossy paper. Purchase it here.
When I announced my Sex Toy Sightings contest, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it would be funny and surprising, and I was right about that.
This project has been a delight, thanks to all the contestants and their creative photographs. Sex toys were spotted in workout rooms and yoga classes, on library shelves, at a cemetery, and in stores of all types. There were plenty of outdoor scenes, including Rockefeller Center in New York City at Christmas. Many people noted that although their toys were public and very visible, passers-by generally ignored them.
Here are our winners
Most Prolific Sex Toy Photographer, first place: Louise, age 69, submitted 27 photos. She took her glass dildo to the ocean, her flogger to the library, her strap-on dildo to the pool, her handcuffs to the gym, and various sex toys to stores selling food, clothing, even children’s toys. It is my honor to pronounce her the winner in three categories (see below) as well as Most Prolific. Her prizes: We Vibe Melt and Fun Factory Stronic Drei.
Photo Taken While Surrounded by the Most People: Adult film star and sex educator jessica drake took her LeWand Chrome Grand Bullet to New York City for Christmas. She wrote me, “At Rockefeller Center I used it to put the star atop the iconic tree with tens of thousands of people standing shoulder to shoulder all around me. Some of the comments were, ‘You GO, girl,’ ‘Is THAT…?” and “That’s amazing, what’s it called?” Although jessica told me she had all the sex toys she needed, she was happy to receive copies of my Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50 and Ageless Erotica as her prizes.
Most Beautiful Photo(s): Louise captured the prize with these two lovely shots of her glass dildo at the ocean.
Best Story of What Happened When the Photo Was Taken: Dave posed his We-Vibe Unite and his We-Vibe Wish cuddled together atop a police car at the police station. As Dave tells it, “Got some strange looks and comments from one officer who came out in the rain to ask why I was putting a ‘bug’ on one of their vehicles. I had forgotten about the security cameras in the parking lot. I guess being 81 years old helped get me out of that one. Are the police ever young!”
Best Conversation with a Stranger When the Photo was Taken: Sharon, 60, took her Magic Wand on a 4 a.m. romp in her workout center, submitting 9 photos. While she was taking this one of her Magic Wand climbing the climbing wall, “Four beautiful young men were working out.” One of these men told her, as she clicked the photo, “Excuse me, you’re standing on my mat!” Her prize: We-Vibe Touch from The Smitten Kitten.
Best Story About No One Noticing the Sex Toy: Raven, 64, took her Fun Factory Volta to the yoga studio. She posed it on the altar, among the carrots at lunch, and on her mat in a variety of yoga poses. “No one even asked me what I was doing, although I took my time placing the toy in several fun poses and then casually putting it away in my yoga bag,” she says. “I was surprised and amused that not one person made a comment to me, although many were around. I have trouble believing no one noticed. In the yoga studio maybe they are all just too deep in meditation.” Her prize (by her request): a new Fun Factory Volta.
Riskiest Photo: Ness created her “Tadpoles” photos with her collection of Tracey Cox Supersex Kegel Balls by climbing over rocks and hanging onto a tree branch to get the “tadpoles” positioned right and position herself for the best angle to take the photo. Glad you survived it, Ness! Her prize: Three of my webinars.
Best Statue Carrying Sex Toys: I invented this category, too, because Dave’s photo of The Lovers, each carrying a We-Vibe sex toy, needed an award.
Most Fitting Juxtaposition of Sex Toy and Surroundings: We have three winners here:
Dave’s half-century-old sex toys were just right under the sign, “Dead People’s Stuff: Antiques.” Dave tells me, “Both these toys are over 50 years old and still fun and pleasurable. Advertised as a ‘personal massager’ back in the ’60s, the Prelude was way ahead of anything else on the market and still gets plenty of fun time use. I have rewired it a number of times.” (Hey, Dave, I used to have a Prelude, too!)
Linda’s Kegel balls look like a miniature version of the dumbbells in the gym at the Hilton Garden in Phoenix. “There was a gentleman running on the treadmill behind me,” she says. “He was either too engrossed in TV to notice, or maybe did not realize what I was taking a picture of.” Her prize: $100 gift certificate from Good Vibrations.
Louise’s flogger-wearing dildo knew its place at her public library: in the crime fiction section, in this photo titled “Crime and Punishment.”
Photo That Made the Judges Laugh the Hardest: Louise’s Sunbathing Strapless Strap-On Dildo was the funniest photo submitted. If we had a category for Best Sex Toy That Looks Like Something Else, she’d win that, too!
We also had several runners up who won’t go empty-handed: They’ll get $25 gift certificates from Lucky Bloke. And our friends at Wicked Sensual are sending all the winners and runners up a bottle of Toy Love lubricating gel, plus a variety of water-based lube samples to keep their sex toys well lubricated for pleasure.
Shamus MacDuff wasn’t eligible for a prize because he helped me set up and judge the contest, and he took preliminary photos to show what we were looking for. But he kept on taking photos — 43 total! — including this one of the Womanizer 2Go and the Hot Octopuss Pulse at a rural cemetery with a fitting message.
Congratulations to all our winners and runners-up, and many thanks to the wonderful companies that donated prizes! Please click on their links and purchase from the stores that support senior sex health and pleasure.