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Underneath We Are Women

Underneath We Are Women: The Book Project Celebrating Body Diversity

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

Earlier this year, I took part in a unique photo shoot for Underneath We Are Women. This project is the brainchild of photographer Amy D. Herrmann, a photographer from Australia. Her goal is to publish 100 images of women from all over the world, plus feature their stories, in a coffee table book. It’s all about showing the female form in all its glorious diversity. And through this process change how we see ourselves and others.

The women who volunteered to participate not only had diverse backgrounds but came from multiple cities and countries. Amy recruited women who’d never posed for the camera, much less in their underwear—or nothing at all. And even though I’d taken part in a lingerie shoot before, this experience was more raw and revealing, if only because we were all strangers.

Underneath We Are Women

We Are Women LA photoshoot, w/photographer
via Instagram

Below is the piece I wrote to accompany my story for the book, along with photographs from the Los Angeles shoot. If you’d like to learn more, visit the UWAW website and sign up to receive news about the publication of Underneath We Are Women, coming in 2019.

Underneath We Are Women

I was curious to take part in the Underneath We Are Women project. After seeing some behind the scenes photos from the New York shoot, I read that they were looking for models—especially women over 50. Well, I fit that bill and felt compelled to take part. My first thought was “who will I meet?”

The older I get, the more intrigued I am by other people’s stories and backgrounds. Yes, I’m a writer—but I didn’t dedicate my life to the craft or publish my first book until my 50s. The women at the Los Angeles shoot were excited to get in front of the camera. Our vulnerability was our collective strength. I learned a few things that day: about medical and physical conditions I’d never heard of, much less seen. And casual conversations came to the same conclusion: we don’t look the same on the outside, but we’ve found a way to live our lives fully, regardless of how the world views us.

Underneath We Are Women

Underneath We Are Women LA Photoshoot Instagram
Amy D Photography

My body is 62-years old. Yep, I’m okay with the word “old.” I’m more vintage and not irrelevant or invisible. It’s not what I thought 62 would look like, though. Yeah, I figured the boobs would go south (why I’m wearing a gorgeous, well-made bra), and the skin would be softer and less taut. Maybe I assumed that I’d have silver hair, like my mother. Then, again, I had no idea I’d be going to the gym three times a week, and working out with weights. Not so much to lose excess pounds (the main reason I did in my teens through my 40s) but to maintain muscle and bone density. More importantly, exercise is mental and emotional therapy now. It helps me keep balance in my life.

Underneath We Are Women

Underneath We Are Women LA Photoshoot Instagram

Underneath We Are Women

Underneath We Are Women LA Photoshoot Instagram
Amy D Photography

A few others things I never thought I’d do in my 60s? Pose in lingerie for a photographer. Seems odd that someone who wrote a book about boobs and another about bra fit wouldn’t be willing to strip down for the camera. But this reflection is enlightening. I love what shows up in my body language and face. Joy radiates from my authentic self, and age is a gift—not something to fight against or fear.

underneath we are women

Underneath We Are Women LA Photoshoot
Wearing Fleur of England
Amy D Photography

Here’s another big surprise about growing older. I’m single. I was married for 25 years, had three kids, but willingly walked away from an upper-middle-class life to pursue a writing career. (By the way, women initiate 70% of all divorces, so it appears we are pretty proactive when it comes to tackling and accepting change.) It’s been ten years now, and I’m more excited about my future than ever before. In that time I’ve taken multiple writing classes, moved to Los Angeles, started doing stand-up comedy, and storytelling shows. It may be why I have such a wild smile on my face!

If someone had told me that I’d have to wait until my 50s or 60s to start doing what I was always meant to do, I’d have been angry and upset. Who’d want to wait that long? But as it turns out, the timing is perfect. I’m less self-conscious and more curious than in my 20s. And I can’t wait to see what my 70s bring. Plus, I fucking rock.

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Breast and bra expert, author, and founder of TheBreastLife.com. My latest book, The Bra Zone: How to Find Your Ideal Style, Size, and Support, busts common bra fitting myths and helps consumers navigate the confusing world of bra styles and sizes.