“One day I am just going to get pissed and send you a photo of my big old 70s bush.”
Conversations I didn’t think I would be having a year ago. Conversations with a friend who I have known since I was 15 and with whom I used to sit in the café where we worked and make boy lists scoring those we fancied on height, hair, music taste and kissing ability! And yes, I do still judge on all four of those…
Today is my birthday. 41. I write this in my favourite pub, fresh from a walk in the park and with a large glass of wine by my side and a burger on order. A deliciously solitary Wicked Wednesday!
But let’s rewind 15 months. I pinged Molly this story about a woman who had photographed herself in only her underwear every year on her birthday since 1974: “You don’t know me but I have done a couple of Exhibit A’s anonymous posts and I think this photographer would interest you.” A brief conversation. Molly saying she wishes she’d started her self-portraits earlier, me commenting that I was born the year the woman started her project and was now approaching the Big 4.0. “Maybe I should start a blog and do 40 for 40?!” “Do it!” Molly replied.
Four months pass. It’s a Friday afternoon and I am in a training course when a text arrives from Exhibit A: “You made the Sinful Sunday round-up!” My heart went into my mouth. My friends and I had had so much fun taking that photo on the first day of 2015. I wrote about it three weeks later in my first post for Exposing 40. You see, seeds had been sown and ideas were growing that could no longer be sufficiently nurtured in a monthly anonymous post. I wanted this little journey I had started on Exhibit A’s blog to grow its own legs and I wanted it to be a shared endeavour. ‘Friends. Photography. Adventure.’ is the strapline of Exposing 40.
And what adventures! My university friend and I stepping back in time to the carefree days of our photography degree, once again chatting excitedly about photography ideas. Meeting local friends at 6am for a sunrise shoot. A friend who dates all the way back to primary school rolling her eyes as hungover me inelegantly tried to get out of this huge box last weekend!
New adventures with old friends has been energising. Making new ones has been an unexpected bonus, but oh!, what lovely lovely people I have met. Just a few weeks after my blog was born I sat in the pub where I write this drinking too much wine with Honey and plotting her shoot. I hooted with laughter on the steps of New York City Library with F Dot Leonora. I tramped through the woods with Molly feeling a slight sense of awe that I was this lucky. I met The Photographer who is just so talented and brimming over with encouragement, warmth and ideas.
And there are people I am yet to meet but who have been so welcoming that I am quite sure I will see them 2016, in person or with the aid of tech. Maria and I have promised ourselves a Skype and wine date and I am sure I will visit my friend in Amsterdam during the year (she who took the ‘Tits in Tietgarten’ shot) and when I do I will be looking Rebel up. I am completely honoured that others have asked me to photograph them and I look forward to that happening in the next year. I have been blown away by invitations to do guest posts by brilliant people like Oleander Plume, and another will follow soon at F Dot Leonora’s place. Sorry gorgeous, it will be written these holidays!
How will Exposing 40 evolve? I don’t know! I have a few women friends who have hinted they want to get involved and I know they quietly watch from the side lines. Maybe one day they will leap, maybe they won’t. But if watching this project evolve is helping them think differently about their post-40, post-babies, post-I-fucking-love-wine-and-cheese bodies then that’s enough for me.
I want more very slim women and men to feel they can talk about their own self-image; they, after all, can feel the same sense of alienation from not having a text book ‘perfect’ body as those of us at the larger end of the spectrum. I want more men involved full stop. Body positivity is not an issue owned solely by women.
I want to use the access my day job affords me to explore more how different countries and cultures view the human body. I want to get back in touch with the couple with whom I had a threesome; the woman, a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, chastised her partner for his accurate interpretation of her “manky foot” in the sketch he had made of she and I together. I hadn’t noticed her foot in the sketch because I was thinking he’d made my arse look a bit big. Because that’s what we do isn’t it? We accept others as they are yet pick on ourselves. At the time she said I could use the photos taken and sketches made however I wanted, but I won’t do that unless I can bring in her voice and her reflections. I want to hear people’s voices, not just see their image. And there is room for many more voices, bodies and experiences in Exposing 40, 41, 42…
This is a really special welcoming and encouraging community to be part of and it makes me so happy that people put so much into running the many memes and that everyone comments so enthusiastically. Thank you!
Here are a few highlights from year one. There are many self-portraits I am proud of on my blog but in the true spirit of Exposing 40 this gallery is made up only of photos that I have taken of friends or that friends have taken of me.