"Ma, why are you on Facebook in your underwear???" read the text from my youngest son.
He'd seen a photo on my page from a shoot I'd done a few weeks back. The idea (Sweet Nothings brainchild) was to bring a group of lingerie bloggers and designers together to show that wearing lovely underthings is for everyone, whatever your age or body type.
When I got the email from Sweet Nothings inviting me to be one of the models, my first thought was, "Oh, hell no." I'll be turning 60 in a few months, will soon be a grandmother (another milestone), and it felt way out of my comfort zone.
My generation didn't grow up taking selfies, which may be one reason I'm less comfortable posing for the camera. I do appreciate beautiful lingerie, the artists behind the designs, and the way fine fabrics feel next to my skin. But sharing my passion with the Internet? Not so much. Plus posing with a group of women closer in age to my daughter seemed odd and uncomfortable. I loved seeing similar lingerie shoots from Sweets and The Lingerie Addict. But I wasn't excited at the prospect of filling the old matron slot in any portrait.
But then I recalled Susan Sarandon's critics when she wore a bra-baring outfit to the SAG awards. The message? Women of a "certain age" shouldn't show excess cleavage. Doesn't six decades of life give us license to wear whatever we damn well please? I'm tired of nonstop ads urging me to buy products that make me "ageless" (code word for not looking a day over 35). Now Christie Brinkley is the new face of 61. Really? Unlike Brinkley, I didn't spend the past 40 years working as a supermodel so have no plans to start competing with one now. I'm frustrated by a lingerie industry that makes me feel as if I might age out of my bra.
So I said "yes," with reservations. I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived at the appointed time. I was a bit nervous about the outfits I'd wear since my bosom and buttocks aren't as perky as they once were. But Leanna Williams of Harlow & Fox made that part of the day easy. Her elegant lingerie collection fit me beautifully. I felt like a goddess in her designs.
As everyone arrived, my mood became more relaxed. Rose Wednesday and I bonded over our inexperience in front of the camera. Sweets brought wonderful homemade goodies for our tea party. Cora came prepared with extra heels, and we pooled all our jewelry. We all oohed and aahed over our different looks. It was fun playing dress-up in this decadent boudoir closet, complete with a hairdresser, make-up artist, and professional photographer.
Feeling divine in my skin and Harlow & Fox Photo by Kristen Blush
I admit I was apprehensive about the finished product. I didn't smile much in my solo pics and was more animated and comfortable in group shots. How could I not be happy hanging out with these beautiful women? It truly was a celebration of our uniqueness and individuality--and that of the different designers. I was also surprisingly pleased to see myself unretouched, and my actual age reflected. Yep, I know the woman in those photos.
In Harlow & Fox, Eleanor Almond Full Cup Bra, Eleanor Almond French Knicker, and Eleanor Almond Robe, Photo by Kristen Blush.
Do I wish I looked a decade younger? I'm not sure. Fewer lines on my face and a more toned body couldn't mirror the turmoil going on underneath at that time: wrestling with a dying marriage, unsure of the future and scared to let go of the past. I'll trade crepey skin and a softer vessel for increased self-confidence and self-esteem any day. Besides, youth is only appreciated in a rearview mirror. I'm guessing that 20 years from now I'll look back at these photos, and think "damn, I looked good for my age."From left to right, Cora in Evgenia Lingerie, Rose in Between the Sheets, Me in Harlow & Fox, Sweets in Evgenia Lingerie. Photo by Kristen Blush.
From left to right, Me in Harlow & Fox, Cora in Layla L’obatti for Between the Sheets, Sweets in Harlow & Fox and Between the Sheets, Rose in Evgenia Lingerie. Photo by Kristen Blush.
Want to learn more about this unique collaboration? You'll find more photos from the Lingerie Bloggers Tea Party at The Lingerie Addict and Sweet Nothings. And don't miss Rose Wednesday's essay on her experience, here.