Baby Boomer Women - Duke ADA
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“Women of an UNcertain Age: Indomitable Baby Boomers Challenging Cultural Norms” is a portraiture series— accompanied by text culled from interviews with the subjects— that focuses on American baby boomer women of diverse ethnicities, races, religions, sexual identities, professions and socioeconomic backgrounds.
American baby boomer women—– women born between 1945 and 1964—were the first generation to expect that they could “have it all”: equality, family, careers, fitness, health and prosperity. Now, as these women enter their mid-50s, 60s, and 70s, they face a unique set of challenges brought on by the demands of growing older while continuing to enjoy those same meaningful and evolved lives.
Women have been, and still are, the targets of sexism and ageism. Older women are often invisible, remaining largely unseen by members of a youth-oriented society and underrepresented in popular culture and imagery. When they are visible, they are often and euphemistically described as being “of a certain age,” as though an acknowledgement of maturity might be taken as an offense. Even worse, older women are sometimes thought of and depicted as crones or witches. As a child, I believed these depictions to be true; as an adult, and a baby boomer woman, I now know them to be false.
Since 2015, I have photographed and interviewed 39 unknown yet outstanding baby boomer women who have shattered stigma, dismantling stereotypes to become extraordinary women launching new careers, achieving physical goals, overcoming adversity and making society a better place for all of us.
I researched and networked to identify women to feature in my project who were born during this period and are living in the United States and leading inspiring lives. The women we meet in this project are strong, resilient, tenacious, courageous and unstoppable. Their stories cover a wide variety of accomplishments. They are athletes, scholars, activists, businesswomen, artists, immigrants and survivors. They are role models all. These amazing women are a testament to the character, courage, vitality and spunk of American baby boomer women.
Each portrait in the series represents a collaboration between me and the particular woman being photographed. The women have been photographed in settings—whether at home or at their workplace—that are meaningful to them and convey a sense of who they are. Additionally, together we made choices about their hair, makeup, clothing and even what objects would surround them. They are not only making sure that they are seen—they have taken charge of how they will be seen.
As this generation is inching towards the end of their lives, these photographs and stories bear witness to a generation that never gave up and help cement the legacy of the individual women. As the photographs are seen and the stories read, viewers will become more aware of what is possible and be inspired to become a better person, citizen, community member, partner, lover, and friend. And I believe that younger generations will find in these images examples of ways to be and how to live as well as encouragement to face the unique challenges that lie ahead of them.