October 13, 2009
Grandmothers get naked too
Some of my close friends are grandmothers already. That means that every time they take out a digital camera to capture fall foliage, they stop and say, “Hey! Want to see a cute photo?” Then they go scrolling through all these tiny photos in the back of their camera to find the latest pictures of their grandchildren. Half the time, they are so distracted by the cuteness of their grandchild that they never do take the photo of that maple tree.
“I need some naked photos of grandmothers,” I told my friends this weekend. “For my blog.”
“It’s too cold,” said Meditation Woman. She’s got a bunch of grandchildren already, and she’s the oldest in this group of friends. She’s fine with getting naked but she hates being chilled. Even inside the lodge, she was wearing thick socks, several shirts, and a fleece that was probably meant for the Arctic Circle.
“I’ll put more wood on the fire,” I said.
I grabbed my laptop computer and showed her the naked photos I’d already put on my blog. Age, I explained, is an important factor. “I’m trying to shatter stereotypes about women and their bodies.”
Once the fire was blazing, Meditation Woman stripped off her clothes and sat near the hearth, the firelight dancing across her skin. “This warmth feels great!” I snapped the photo while the rest of our friends lounged and talked. They’re used to the naked photo shoots by now, and the conversations that inevitably result. We talked about body image and how most women feel more comfortable with our bodies as we age, in contrast to the messages of the dominant culture, which values youthful bodies.
The next morning, Quilt Artist -- another grandmother in the group -- chose her own pose. “I’ll go out on the deck with a mug of tea.” Since she’s an artist, she was a stickler for getting all the details right. “Let me get naked first, then pour the tea. So it’s just boiling. You can capture the steam coming out of the mug.”
She was clearly overestimating my skill as a photographer. I had no idea how to make the steam rising from the cup visible in the morning light. Besides, my experience with photos of naked women suggests that no one will be looking at the tea mug.
She relaxed in her chair, sipping the tea, while I backed up against the glass window to take the picture. Our other friends, gathered at the breakfast table, started pounding on the window. I turned to see what the problem was.
“Kayakers!” They were waving and pointing to a bunch of kayakers paddling toward us across the lake. I tried to shush them and turned back to Quilt Artist.
She dismissed their concerns with a shrug. “Eh. I’m getting cold. Let’s just take the photo.” We took a bunch of shots, and then I tossed her a blanket just as the kayak family paddled into view, coming out from under the trees near the edge of the lake.
(Readers who want to know the history of the naked photo tradition can check it out here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.)
Posted by jo(e)