Zenfolio | Wilomark Music and Imagery | 40 over 40 project - Alison, 49 year old mother and survivor

40 over 40 project - Alison, 49 year old mother and survivor

October 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Alison's first words to me when she came in for her session was "I don't know why I'm here, I'm not very glamorous". The thing is, my job is to photograph you as you are, your personality and your spirit.  Not to have you wear clothes that aren't "you" but to give you the best photos of who YOU are.


When Alison was younger, she would always have people commenting on her looks.  She never liked the way she looked but as can often happen, watching a video of herself in her twenties, she realized she was actually attractive.  Alison has always wanted nice photos of herself but has spent the last 10 years doing everything she could to avoid the camera.  She says, “I know that is a stupid thing to do, because I will want to look back on my time spent with the kids and have pictures that prove I was there”.

Alison suffers from anxiety, the result of childhood abuse and two abusive adult relationships and told me she has never felt beautiful.  She gained a lot of weight in her late 30’s, then lost it and then fell pregnant at 40 and then 44 years of age. Alison explained to me that now at age 49, she just feels hideous (her words) about her appearance but is so thankful to have found a lovely partner and to have lovely children….but she has never felt she was “worth” much.

As many of my clients will attest, my studio is a “negative self talk” free zone.  However, when you have been conditioned to not see yourself as worth anything, it becomes second nature to counter a compliment with a negative; turning a compliment into a criticism of yourself.  I think we all do this to one degree or another.  I know I do.  It was a huge reason for me embarking on this project in the first place.  The hardest thing to say when someone gives you a compliment is THANK YOU!  We need to practice it daily.  Smother the negative voice that wants to pipe up to extinguish any praise that you get.  I’m going to give you an example and I bet you we can all identify with this in some way.

Friend says – "Oh Kylee I love your shirt! It really suits you!!"

I say (looking down at said shirt) – "Oh this? It would look even better if I didn’t have more rolls than my local bakery!"

Ummmm….what?  I just had someone tell me they liked my shirt and that it suited me and I automatically resort to humour to squash the compliment?  All I needed to say was THANK YOU!! That’s it…2 simple words.  Granted, they are probably the hardest two words to say when receiving a compliment. So that is why you need to practice them.  Daily.

But I digress; Being a “negative self talk” free zone, it can be very challenging for some people to stop putting themselves down.  I understand this, so I give you a few passes but then I have to dish out some tough love. In a fun, non-judgy kind of way of course ;)

When Alison arrived for her session, she was a bundle of nervous energy.  Keeping Alison’s negative self talk at bay was certainly challenging but watching her become more relaxed and comfortable during the session was awesome.  I’ll let her tell you about her experience;

“After entering the Wilomark 40 women over 40 project, I didn't give it another thought. When Kylee rang to say I was one of the women chosen, that's when the anxiety kicked up a level. Especially when I was to be photographed in a week’s time. Aaahh! No time to do some exercise and tone down the chocolate consumption. I second-guessed myself and ummed and ahhed all week, “I should cancel, what am I thinking!” My partner set me straight and before I knew it, it was Saturday morning.

I bowled up looking quite the mess, no make up and hair looking like a burnt birds nest. Amazingly, Mel transformed me as Kylee and I talked and my nerves settled. Both Kylee and Mel were lovely, great for my confidence and so friendly. The whole experience, although nerve wracking, turned out to be a positive and fun time. I'm glad I did it. So thank you to both Kylee and Mel for making me feel pretty.”

Alison said in her application that she would like to have some nice pictures of herself to hopefully be a little prop up, at least for a little while so she could say “Yeah, I can look good!”. 

Alison…I think you are amazing and definitely look good and so glad you feel pretty, you just need to see in yourself what others see in you.  I hope when you look at your beautiful images that they remind you that you ARE worthy.


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