As you may know, I’m always keen on anything (naturist or otherwise) in SL that reflects ‘the older avatar’.
Following on from, and in conjunction with, Harry’s piece(s) on Helmut Newton, part one here, part two to follow, I’m going to dedicate a post to Charlotte Rampling, the model in some of Newton’s photographs.
Rampling, born in 1946, and now 67 years old, posed nude for Juergen Teller in The Louvre when 63. She describes her uneasiness at the idea in this Daily Telegraph piece by Jane Shilling, who herself did that ‘middle aged disrobing’ thing for her book, The Stranger in the Mirror’ (see below). Shilling’s disrobing was -at the time- discussed in ‘The Times’, alongside a companion piece by Bridget Harrison (reproduced below and readable from the original print)
Jane Shilling poses for the cover of her book, in a pose that echoes a previous photograph by Simone de Beauvoir
The original Simone de Beauvoir photo, she would have been 44 at the time of this photo, taken in 1952
And as recently as 2003, Rampling, in her late-50s, stripped off in the film ‘The Swimming Pool’
I’ve not contributed much to SLN lately, on account of a) Ella going off on her ‘clothes design retreat month’ and b) I’ve been more interested in scouring the grid, actually coming to terms with being middle aged in SL. While it’s a time of life I’ve championed in SLN, and a time of life other avatars are clearly embracing, I’ve wrestled with the idea over the past weeks. What set this train of thought off, I’m not quite sure. Rather than writing, I’ve been exploring SL, bought new (and blonder) hairstyles to reflect that in RL I’ve finally abandoned a fierce loyalty to being prematurely white, and ‘gone blonde-ish’, with my SL reflecting that.
I’ve also spent literally hours of my SL time in recent weeks exploring ‘appropriate’ clothes for a middle-aged avi. While the blogs offer us a limitless amount of free clothes, I often find myself not wholly taken with them, as a mini-skirt half way up my bottom isn’t quite the image I’m trying to project!
It’s therefore thrilling to see Charlotte Rampling embrace nudity in her mid-60s, and look marvellous for it, not only being someone we (younger than her, but certainly in middle age) can admire for her body confidence, but -personally- act as a conduit through which I can channel my own SL. Having briefly and stupidly toyed with the idea of shaving 20 years off my life and making an avatar that would reflect that, I’ve decided that I was right all along on the road I had previously decided to travel. Embrace those middle years!
Charlotte Rampling, a couple of years ago, opted to pose naked again (aged 63) in the Louvre, for another iconic photographer, Juergen Teller.
What I like about Teller’s work is that, as with some of the younger portrait photographers, self-portraits, sometimes nude, feature. This isn’t ‘porn’, incidentally, but ‘fine art’. Erotic, yes, in some instances, but always strong photographs.
Juergen Teller, self portrait
Juergen Teller with Charlotte Rampling
The photo directly above, I think, can’t be seen just as some naked snap of an exhibitionist, but, rather, just as the Shilling book cover pays homage to du Beauvoir, Teller’s photo of himself homages Coubert’s ‘Origin of the World’
The Teller/Rampling photoshoot (the younger female is Raquel Zimmerman, the Brazilian model) is reproduced in part below.Ms. Rampling, more even than Ms. Zimmerman, looks absolutely stunning. Agreed?
‘Age’ isn’t an issue, either, when another of Teller’s subjects, clothes designer Vivienne Westwood, is photographed nude (aged 68 when the photos were taken)
These photos featured in a Teller exhibition at the ICA in London, and also featured portraits of younger models, such as Lily Cole and Kristen McMenamy . McMenamy is 46, Cole 25 but, for me, Westwood, 68, is the most beguiling of the subjects.
Age has indeed given models such as Rampling and Westwood a patina of experience and beauty that seems oddly absent in the younger models such as Cole and Zimmerman.
So what does this have to say about being middle-aged in SL? I think that if RL can show nude, older women to be attractive in RL, then there’s no reason why older avatars in SL, nude or not, can equally be attractive. In a sense, women undertaking such nude photoshoots in RL with a sense of body confidence legitimises how we, as women, can equally feel strong, confident and content in our naked bodies in RL too. And equally in SL.
Naturism is a lifestyle in which older women abound. None of us are perfect, just as none of us were even perfect in our teens and 20s. But naturism teaches us a contentedness in the body we do have. Wrinkles, crows feet, gravity, whatever….none diminish our middle aged beauty. They enhance it. If you’re a middle aged woman in RL, playing SL, then why not consider adapting and adopting your avi to a middle aged appearance? The same goes for men, too. The Peter Pan/Dorian Grey look is fine, up to a point, but if diversity is the spice of life in RL, then it should also apply in SL.
In conclusion, my avi may be sporting a few extra virtual pounds around the middle, and her hair may be white (most of the time) but it’s a reflection of the real, contented me!