October 13, 2009

Grandmothers get naked too

Meditation Woman

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.

Morning tea

(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.)

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love the grandmother theme. A new twist on the nude photos!!

T.

Digger said...

Jo(e), these are wonderful. Thank you! (and thank you to Quilt Artist and Meditation Woman)

liz said...

They are so gorgeous! Such warm and generous women and you captured that so beautifully in the photos.

Leslie F. Miller said...

I think thin people feel better about their bodies at any age. I know that I don't feel good about it, and even though you do such a great job, I would be too embarrassed to get em-bare-assed.

jo(e) said...

Leslie: I agree that American women are encouraged by the dominant culture to be obsessed with the issue of weight. I'm always startled by how many beautiful woman will tell me that they consider themselves "fat" or say that they need to diet. I'm startled when I'm in a museum and look at paintings by someone like Renoir -- and see how fleshy the beautiful women in his paintings are. Our culture seems to say, "The thinner, the better." It's an odd standard of beauty.

Cindy said...

Amrican women are way obsessed with weight. It's really ridiculous esp when often they are obsessing over just a few pounds either way.

Paige said...

Yay! These are beautiful. I was hoping the weekend would lead to more nude photos.

AF said...

Men have weight body image issues too, but we don't talk about it. I looked at the height/weight chart in my doctor's office, and it had me listed as borderline obese! I was appalled, and I thought, all right, I'm fat. It was depressing, until the doc himself told me not to worry about it, my weight was fine. Just lately, I found out that the weight/height standards on government-generated charts were aggressively lobbied by the diet industry! They're totally bogus.

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

I have to agree with Quilt Artist - I was hoping for something steamier.

:-)

Anonymous said...

I hope I look like that when I'm a grandma.

SK

Beach Walkin said...

Thanks to you all... for sharing your talents with us. As always... the photos are lovely... showing the inside of women... not just the outside. Y'all aced the pictures (steam or no)!!!!!!

jo(e) said...

AF: Oh, I agree. I don't think men are exempt from the issue of body self-esteem, although I think women still have far more pressure on them to meet some artificial standard of beauty in this culture. And women are much more socialized to talk about their bodies.

The diet industry is a lucrative business in this country. Sadly.

jo(e) said...

Tie-dye Brother-in-law: Laughing at your pun ....

Kyla said...

Awesome!

kathy a. said...

lovely photos!

count me among the shy. it is not just the artificial standards of beauty working against women's self-images, but other people are not shy about skewering heavier women, or offering unwanted advice about slimming down. i've had relatives offer diet advice, recommend liposuction [!], recommend exercise equipment, intentionally buy clothing that is too small to "encourage" me to lose weight, etc.

i'm heavier than i want to be, but not enormous. these efforts are hurtful; the message is, "damn, but you are fat, and you obviously are too stupid to fix that without my help."

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I love what you're doing, but I;m not so eager to be photographed AT ALL, never mind naked. I'm a grandmother, but I LOOK like one.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

These grandmothers are gorgeous!

BrightenedBoy said...

What an awesome tradition. I don't know if I'd be that brave. The second shot is really quite beautiful by the way. I love how the sunlight glimmers off the water.

Mieke said...

One of glorious things about being 41 for me is that I am comfortable in my skin in a way I never was in my 20s. I love these pictures Jo(e) of women owning their bodies so completely. Wonderful.

Magpie said...

You have awesome friends.

justin said...

Lovely photos as usual, Jo(e) and lovely friends too. I think I'm too skinny to look good naked. In my student days, I did a bit of sun-bathing with other students, sunning the top half on my body. One of women was horrified at how thin I was, and remarked: "You look as if you've come out of Belsen". Which was very good for my self-esteem. As a lot of men in my age group are overweight, I now feel more comfortable with being slim.

justin said...

Correction to my last post ... which should read " Which was not very good for my self-esteem".

YourFireAnt said...

I love these photos. Especially the first one, which looks very cozy.

T.

Sarah Sometimes said...

looks like it was a beautiful weekend.... thanks for sharing the pix

Silver Creek Mom said...

I love those photos and I am glad you are trying to change this image we seem to have of the prefect shape in modern culture. Although I do know better I am not comfortable seeing my self nude or feel comfortable in my own skin. I wish I could be happy with all the lumps and bumps that are me. Although it doesn't help when I am told to loose 40 lbs or so. To which I laugh and say...You've got to be kidding?
I am getting better, but it is not an easy thing to be. Yourself.

Arvind said...

You are not gonna rest until your blog reaches the #5 spot in the google searches for hot naked grandmothers, are you? :-)

Sue said...

Once again - two beautiful women captured in beautiful form. Brava!