Aging brings wisdom and experience — and body image insecurity. Most of us, even if we glory in our sexuality, have misgivings about our ever-expanding wrinkles and sags. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes — whether a lover or a photographer — to show us that our outer beauty matches our inner beauty.
At age 65, then again at age 68, I stripped to lingerie for photo shoots. I learned a lot about myself from these experiences and from viewing and sharing the results. People applauded, praised me for my courage, high-fived me for encouraging others to have their own lingerie shoots.
My blog posts about these events quickly drew more viewers than any of my other posts, and they continue to place in the top four all time most popular posts. Many women shared their own experiences and photos, some privately. some publicly. I was happy that my experience had helped to empower others.
I didn’t know I would do it again. But in September 2016, I slipped (wrestled?) my 72-year-old body into lovely lingerie provided by Lovehoney.com and smiled at the renowned Los Angeles photographer, Perry Gallagher, who specializes in Boudoir, Fine Art Nude, Fashion, and Wedding photography.
How did this happen? Krista from Lovehoney knew Perry’s work and mine. When she learned that I would be in LA for speaking events in September, she offered both the lingerie and the photo shoot.
Krista explained her involvement in the project this way:
Joan is a lovely timeless spirit and I was overjoyed to work with her on a photo shoot and check out some of Lovehoney’s newest lingerie styles. I connected her with one of my favorite photographers, Perry Gallagher, to complete the vision.
Joan is not only adorable, she is also breaking down stereotypes that women of a certain age are not considered sexy or sexual. I want people to see that lingerie isn’t just for the young and pert. Lingerie, and sex toys, can enhance your sex life and increase your self-confidence no matter your age, size, shape, or ability.
What was it like to work with Perry? A ton of fun. Perry is a true professional. He knew how to put me at ease with his humor and his appreciation of the female body whatever its shape, size, or age. He give me instructions — where to turn, where to look, how to arrange various body parts — including tucking myself back into my bra when breast spillage occurred. The whole time, he clicked away.
I felt completely comfortable with Perry — except when I worried about him climbing on a ladder to shoot me from above. (I have a fear of heights — he does not.) It was exciting to be at the center of his rapt attention, I admit that. Much of that excitement was the feeling, “I’m doing this. My 72-year-old body is fine with being photographed in skimpy bits of cloth.” It was a truly empowering experience that I’ll take with me anytime I fret about a new wrinkle or thigh puff.
Thank you, LoveHoney.com, for sending me the luscious undies and sponsoring this photo shoot. These are the products I’m modeling. Follow the links if you’d like to wear these yourself!
- Lovehoney Spoil Me Satin Babydoll Set Plum
- Lovehoney Flaunt Me Floral Lace Robe
- Lovehoney Flirty Underwired Plunge Bra Black
- Lovehoney Tempt Me Dot Mesh Bra
- Lovehoney Flirty Black Lace and Mesh Panties
News flash: Lovehoney is offering my readers a 10% discount on everything — not just lingerie! Follow this link.
Thank you, Perry Gallagher, for these amazing photos and for making the whole experience fun and full of laughter. View Perry’s video here:
I would encourage other women of all ages to explore the opportunity to have just this type of experience for yourself: to be photographed and to see the inner beauty that is you, right now, no matter what age you are. Now is a good time.
I’m putting together the final touches for the launch of
my BawdyLove program and I wanted to ask if you’d be interested in sharing
what I’m calling your “Bawdy Love origin story”, or the moment(s)
where you decided you were done hating yourself and ready to work towards
loving yourself fully.
I didn’t ever “hate” my body, but I didn’t see it as beautiful or sexy through most of my teenage and adult years. I looked good in clothes, but naked, my body was far from the media’s image of what a sexy female body should look like. My breasts have never been perky, not even as a teenager. They always flopped, and the older I get, the flatter and floppier they become.
But here’s the strange thing: I love my body now more than I ever have. OK, you can tease me about my eyesight, but honestly, it isn’t about what I look like — it’s what I feel like. and I feel like a beautiful, sensual, sexy woman at age 71. Here’s how I got here:
1. When my great love Robert and I fell in love, he truly found me beautiful and told me so often. He and I had a morning routine, where he brought me coffee in bed, I let the covers slip from my breasts, he covered his eyes and stepped back as if dazzled by my beauty. This didn’t just go one way — I would drink in his body with my eyes and tell him, “You’re the handsomest man in my world.” Take-away point: If you’re lucky enough to have a lover in your life, let each other know how sexy/ beautiful you find each other.
2. I discovered shaper bras that can give me the uplift and cleavage that my breasts don’t have on their own, and that makes me feel confident in sexy, revealing clothing. Take-away point: Shop for underwear and outerwear that show off your body to the best advantage. Put the accent on revealing rather than covering up.
3. I did a lingerie shoot with a photographer at age 65, and I enjoyed it so much that I repeated the experience at age 68. (Hmm, I’m due for another!) I learned so much from the experience of posing in lingerie and seeing the photos afterwards. Take-away point: Pose in lingerie if this intrigues you — you’ll discover that the camera reveals how sexy you are in ways you never saw on your own.
4. I realized that this body, whatever its age, is capable of giving me great sensual and sexual pleasure. What’s sexier than that? I celebrate my body because of the sensations and the pleasure I get from it. I encourage you to do the same. Take-away point: Whether you’re partnered or not, experience, enjoy and love your body’s sexy gifts to you.
I asked followers of my Naked at Our Age Facebook page to comment about their own body image challenges. Here’s what they said:
- I turned 62 yesterday and of course never appreciated my young self’s body. While I try to appreciate my current body, sagging breasts, stretch marks, and loose skin make my newly single sex life a challenge. The lights are out before sex and I don’t dress or undress in front of him. He likes my body but I’m still not comfortable being naked in front of him.
- I’m 55. I have been severely limited in expressing myself freely because I think I should be a smaller size. A friend who was heavier than me once said, “Men don’t care what size you are as long as they can get it in there!” Too funny! I guess she could sense my fear was holding me back from meeting anyone. I have never been able to be that uninhibited about not being my ideal size. Hence, I have been alone a while now. I say I’ll meet someone when I trim down.
- How about also addressing the challenge of explaining scars from injuries and surgeries to a person not yet familiar with what adventures and misadventures you have survived? Along with the ethical quandary of a cancer survivor (with the scars to prove it) dating a person who lost their mate to cancer?
- The most insecure I have been is after surgeries. Explaining your scars and exposing them is nerve wracking. Plus your body has been through a trauma and getting intimate after these events takes time from healing and a patient lover.
- [from a therapist:] I frequently counsel with gorgeous women from 30-65+ who look at their body in the mirror and all they see is the tummy roll from child-bearing or their less than 34D bust. What I see is a woman who is physically, spiritually and emotionally beautiful, but just doesn’t look like the Victoria’s Secret models. You must love yourself before you can love others, and that includes your body.
|Lauren Marie Fleming|
Miriam Kura wrote me about her experience posing nude for photographs at age 60. Her experience was so empowering and delightfully sexy that I encouraged her to share it with you, along with the steps she followed to become comfortable enough to embrace this racy adventure.
I invite you to post your comments. Enjoy!
For my 60th birthday, I asked my sex friend if he would take nude photos of me — this was the youngest I was ever going to be again! We set a date to do it two weeks out.
During that time I looked on the Internet under “nude photos” and got ideas about props and poses, picking out what I thought fit my style – natural and elegant. I collected scarves, pearls, a white boa, a leather jacket, a man’s crisp white shirt, translucent white curtains, gold lace fabric.
When the day came, we had three hours of creative and collaborative fun. He took over 700 pictures! It was like adult arts and crafts. I felt beautiful, sensual, comfortable, sexy, at ease, and appreciated.
It was a gift I gave myself, and he gave to me. And we both enjoyed it immensely. I never could have pulled it off if I hadn’t prepared the year before to fully occupy my nude sexiness in these nine easy steps:
1. Believe your lover when he says that he loves the way your neck/ breasts/ waist/ legs/ butt/ hair/ face/ feet/ whatever looks.
2. Just do it. Look at yourself naked everyday, while you’re doing something else, like brushing your teeth. Get used to it. Blow-dry your hair while naked. Put on your makeup while naked. Make it part of your routine.
3. Go naked until it’s so normal that you don’t cringe any more.
4. Do it until you get curious about how you look at different angles.
5. Look at yourself in the mirror naked and try to see what he sees.
6. Do it until you sincerely enjoy looking at some part of yourself, with pleasure.
7. Walk naked around the house as you do some little chore, like put the wet towel from your shower into the dryer, or when you go to put some music on, or lay out your clothes. Work up to spending more time naked around the house.
8. Take time taking your clothes off when your lover sees you do it. Practice doing it in an unhurried manner. Then practice as though you enjoy him looking at you. Then start to actually enjoy it. Then flaunt it a little while he looks. Then give him a sly, proud, slow smile while you do it.
9. Ask him to take your clothes off – slowly.
This experience showed me that every body looks good from some angle. You just have to find it. Some pictures were totally not complimentary. But overall we found the angles that worked. It was surprisingly fun to see myself as the art subject.
Miriam Kura, 61, is a business owner who lives in Portland, Oregon. She contributed to the anthology, Ageless Erotica, edited by Joan Price. She is delighted to learn that sex in late mid-life is a whole lot more fun and meaningful than it was in earlier decades.
|Photo by Ruth Lefkowitz|
I discover it’s not just single women: I had a conversation with a man about my age who is no longer having sex with his wife because she’s too embarrassed about her weight gain to be naked with him.
Other men tell me similar stories — that their wives hide their bodies, and the men miss the sex and the intimacy, but don’t know how to ease their wives past their distaste for their bodies.
I’d like to talk to both genders here:
Finally, after meeting so many frogs (and not even tempted to kiss any of them), you’ve met a man who makes your heart flutter big time. You’ve flirted, you’ve gone on a few dates, you’ve talked half the night, you’ve laughed at his jokes and he at yours. On your last date, you kissed… and kissed. His hands went exploring, so did yours, and you know that on the next date, more than your lipstick will come off. You’ve even had the Condom Conversation.
But, your inner worrier keeps asking you, what if he sees your body and heads for the hills?
You’ve got to trust me on this, he’s not going to say or even think any of the following:
- “Oh, gee, you have so many wrinkles!”
- “You’d be so pretty if you lost weight.”
- “Huh—I thought you looked younger with clothes on.”
- “I like firmer butts and perkier breasts.”
- “Uh, I gotta go now.”
No, whether or not he voices it out loud or conveys it with a smile or melting eyes, here’s what he’s thinking:
Partnered women: Does your husband have the same body as when you first dated? I doubt it. Realize that your man wants you, wants the bonding with you, wants the sexual pleasure with you. Instead of asking him, “Do I look fat?” try asking, “What do you find the sexiest part of my body?” His answer might surprise you, and I’ll bet he’ll be delighted that you asked.
Men: You may not realize how insecure we women are about our bodies. We need to hear from you that you find us sexy, alluring, beautiful. If you think our breasts are gorgeous, or our rear view turns you on, please tell us. Even an “I could gaze into your eyes forever” will make our hearts flutter. We need you to help us affirm our bodies. A hefty dose of romance does wonders for us, too!
We women are our own worst critics, always have been. Remember those teenage pimples? Those worries about our shape and smell? Let’s decide, once and for all, that our bodies are just right, capably of visually delighting a partner and of bringing us both great pleasure.
If we can’t do that at this time of life, when can we? Even if we don’t fully believe it, acting “as if” we’re proud of our bodies will help make it so.
So when it’s time for that get-naked date, prepare with some gorgeous lingerie, dim the lights if you feel the need, but don’t black out the view (candles are sexy and flattering), have lubricant handy, and enjoy.
I’d love to hear from both women and men about this topic! Please comment.
This post was originally published in a slightly different form 11/8/11. I expanded and updated it 11/20/2012.