Northampton

Photography project 'celebrates beauty' of women over 40

Judith Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption Jo Blackwell has been photographing women such as Judith, 75, without make up for her Face it, Own it project

A blogger and photographer has said her pictures of women over 40 without make-up are a celebration of their beauty.

Jo Blackwell, 58, has captured the images of 25 women so far and is aiming to gather 50 subjects for her Face it, Own it project.

"You very rarely see older women's faces without being airbrushed," the photographer, from Brixworth in Northamptonshire, said.

"I find it horrifying we've got to the stage where we feel that we have to put a mask on to be acceptable in society."

Nikki Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption Jo Blackwell said women including Nikki, 46, have taken part for various reasons but "they've got the confidence to face the world the way they are"
Jo Blackwell Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption Since starting her blog eight years ago, Jo Blackwell has turned it into a book, launched a website and podcast

Ms Blackwell said she became depressed after her children left home.

"I never thought 'what about me when they go?', I turned round and thought 'I don't know what I'm for anymore'.

"What got me out of the depression was writing a blog about being 50.

"People were commenting on the blog and and I felt reconnected with the world."

Rakhee Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption Rakhee, 42, said she had no desire to wear make-up and that so many women were beautiful in a natural way
Tracey Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption By photographing women such as Tracey, 46, without make-up Jo Blackwell said she hoped to break a "societal expectation" to look a certain way

Following the blog, Ms Blackwell retrained as a portrait photographer, and earlier this year launched her project.

She said the women wanted to be photographed for a variety of reasons.

"Some are just grateful to be getting older, maybe they've been through illness.

"While others are tired of feeling like they've got to conform."

Bridget Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption Bridget, 46, said she had her photo taken because "not everyone has the blessing of getting older, every year life gets better"
Emma Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption Jo Blackwell said her photos of women such as Emma, 50, dispelled the "male gaze" which dictates how women look

Ms Blackwell said: "People will say 'oh you look good for your age' but that's a passive-aggressive backhanded compliment.

"I either look good or not, and that's your opinion anyway, but my age has nothing to do with it."

Ms Blackwell said she did not have a problem with people wearing make-up.

"But when you look at our daughters and the way they feel they can't go out the door without putting this mask on, I think we have a responsibility to lead the way," she said.

Mel Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption Jon Blackwell has also been recording her subjects such as Mel, 52, with their thoughts on why they had their photo taken
Jojo Image copyright Jo Blackwell
Image caption So far 25 women including Jojo, 58, have taken part in the project, which it is hoped will double by the end of the year

Ms Blackwell is also encouraging other 40-plus women to send their own "no make-up" selfies, and then she hopes to put the pictures in an exhibition later this year.

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