Faces of Silver
...evolved women turning on their silver lining!
by ben winkler
‘Faces of Silver’ the project...
ISBN Â© ben winkler photography 1 st edition 2017
Shining light on the beauty of the evolved woman, demystifying the stigma that grey equals dull!
Dedication: Each single silver sister - many a new friend! My friend Judi Schwarz for pushing me to get this out there, Tia Crystal for putting up with my initial chaos & rambling on about this project, and last but not least Tatiana Dudyez, my lady, assistant, and sounding board - thank you for holding space for me!
Contents • • • •
Foreword by Louise Pendry Silver imagery from across the world Group shoot imagery Thoughts by Bella McCloud
Beauty is: - perception - radiance - yummy - contagious - reason to celebrate - to be acknowledged - subjective - in each and every one of us! - ATTITUDE!
...evolved women turning on their silver lining! Foreword: When Ben approached me to write this foreword I was delighted and honored. This is a project it’s been my genuine pleasure to witness unfolding from the very beginning, both as a fan of his body of work and latterly, as one of his photographic subjects. In addition to being a silver haired woman, I am a psychologist at Exeter University in the UK, with a research interest in stereotyping and gendered ageism. In a nutshell, the question that intrigues me is why, as a woman, is it so frowned upon to age? Why are the dominant stereotypes about older women so often negative? Talking with Ben it became apparent that we possessed a very similar outlook on the issue, albeit we approach it from different angles. Ageing is such a loaded term, and it’s one Ben hates with a passion. We are after all ageing right from the moment we are born. Ageing is simply a part of life. There’s a particular stigma associated with women ageing, though, and allied to that, going gray. We read that men can look forward to being “disgustingly hot, sexy silver foxes” as they age, but women, well, not so much. Instead, we are drip-fed messages in the press and popular media about why women “dare not go gray unless they are very brave”, that women are “obliged to defy nature” and “woe betide she who fails to maintain her crowning glory”. If we swallow what the media feed us, it’s all doom and gloom. As journalist Ann Perkins wryly observes: “Of all the choices women… make about their outward appearance, going grey has assumed the role of signalling to the outside world that you don’t care that you’re getting old; you are ready to be invisible, to advertise your shrivelled ovaries, to be in some way ready for insignificance. Going grey…has become the equivalent of a public surrender to age and inconsequence. It’s like the warning light on the car dashboard commanding you to check your tyre pressure immediately. Grey hair means the inexorable decline has begun, the countdown to incontinence pads and lalaland is under way.” What a pile of crap! Ben and I are both keen to fight this stereotype. But whilst my battles are mainly fought via the research I publish in the dry and dusty psychology journals that few people read, Ben had in mind a rather more accessible approach with the potential to reach a wider audience. In Ben’s case, his camera was his weapon, and an army of silver-haired women were his willing accomplices in combat. Whilst the words here are my own, I hope they resonate with the many women who took part. I truly hope, too, that I’ve captured the essence of what this project means to Ben. Back in 2016, Ben conceived a big (some might say madcap) idea: to travel the world photographing silver-haired women, and to collate their images in a book: Faces of Silver. In doing so, he sought to make a statement: “To portray that gray is a natural progression of female beauty, a testimony to mature femininity, full of grace and poise. A conscious transition of beauty, the grandest phase of your life.” Prior to my knowing this was his plan, I had posted a positive if slightly jokey comment in response to one of his gorgeous US studio shots on Facebook of a silver haired woman. I said something along the lines of “Great photo, Ben. If you ever come to the UK I’d be happy to round up a few silver haired women for you to photograph!” Be careful what you wish for. Fast forward a few months and that is exactly what I was doing, rounding up the UK silver women for Ben to photograph in London as part of the European leg of his tour. And that is how I got involved. For the Faces of Silver project, Ben’s remit was simple and inclusive (if a tad ambitious): to invite women worldwide at any stage in their silver transition to take part in a photoshoot. He covered the States, Europe, and Australia. There was no casting call, no selection process, no sense in which any of us was deemed more
or less “worthy” of participation. If we had some silver hair and said we wanted to do it, we were in! We ranged in age from our 40s to our 70s, we were all shapes, all sizes, all ethnicities, and sexualities. A few of us were professional models, but many of us were just regular women who had never even been in a photoshoot before. We were not “perfect” in the socially prescribed way of being a standard size, age and shape. Some of us embraced the opportunity from the outset, others were maybe a little shy and needed a bit of gentle encouragement (myself included). But ultimately, we all approached our shoots seeking to own and celebrate both our age and our silver hair. How was this possible? A lot of that is down to the way Ben set up the shoots in the first place, and this process began before we even arrived at the venue. He made the process sound fun from the get-go. He advised us ahead of time to “wear what the hell we want”, what we felt comfortable in, just a bit of make up if we wanted, bring along props to share (jewellery, scarves, hats, etc.); simply to be ourselves and not to force anything. Ben set out to make us relax and feel at ease. The only real stipulation, given the focus of the project, was that our silver hair looked at its best. Ben’s role in this process is unequivocal: “My job is to make you feel beautiful in front of my lens so that you can appreciate how beautiful you really are and see what I see. Beyond hair, make up and fashion I seek to show you your timeless radiance that shines through.” When we arrived at the shoot, before he even took a single shot, he took the time to talk to each woman, to discuss her hopes for the shoot alongside any reservations she might have had. Genuinely attentive to all of our concerns, he affirmed and reassured us at every stage. At the same time he made sure he conveyed the beauty he genuinely noticed in each of us, whether we were aware of it, or (oftentimes) not. There’s an old saying: “You are so used to your features that you often fail to realise how beautiful you are to a stranger.” For many of us this rings true. Ben gets that. He encouraged each woman to reflect on what unique qualities she brought to the shoot, over and above her glorious silver hair or her styling choices. Perhaps he mentioned that our skin had a special glow, or that our eyes were arresting, or that our tattoos synched perfectly with our cheeky smile. He observed these characteristics in each of us, and he made sure he told us so. And only when he was sure we were more comfortable did he begin the shoot. It was time well spent. His efforts allowed us to be truly ourselves in front of the lens. The result? He was able to capture our unique essence. One might question why there is a need for such a project. Is it, perhaps, a vanity project, an artistic indulgence? Both my research interest in this area and my experiences as a fifty-something woman tell me it is neither of these things. We live in a world where eternal youth and traditional airbrushed stereotypes of beauty are revered. Rare is the woman who reaches her midlife years without having absorbed and internalised at least some of these entrenched beliefs. Ageing, we are repeatedly told, is a battle we must constantly fight to stand any chance of success in this appearance and youth-obsessed world. We learn we must defy it, prevent it, thwart it. But how do we stop the inevitable march of time? We do of course have an armoury of weapons at our disposal ranging from invasive surgical interventions to diet, exercise, make-up, styling and hair dye. Most of us have our own bespoke list of body hang-ups, things we think we need to fix: we are too fat, too skinny, our breasts have succumbed to gravity, our skin has slackened, we worry our wrinkles betray us, that our hair is going gray. It’s well documented that women’s loathing of their physical imperfections is so pervasive it’s even termed “normative discontent.” Yes it’s apparently normal to hate ourselves! Is it any wonder, then, that so many of us (around 75%) succumb to hair dye to ensure that our gray hair at least doesn’t let us down? Indeed, it is perhaps the one anti-ageing step we are able to take that doesn’t require the exacting costs of willpower and dedication in the way that, say, diet and exercising does. Slap on the hair dye and we are instantly rejuvenated. What’s not to like? Well, for many women, indeed, it’s a no brainer. Hair dye is their passport to eternal youth and they prefer having the option to hide their gray hair. And that is entirely understandable. This project is not about coercing any woman to embrace silver hair. No judgements here. Vive la difference! What it IS about is showing that we have a choice. For many women, hair dye is a passport that comes up for renewal rather too often. In my case, it was eventually every fortnight, as what I saw as “those pesky grays” started to peek through (thank you, Clairol, for gifting me this delightful term to berate myself still further!). And so I’d instinctively reach for the root touch up to restore a sense of youthful equilibrium once again. Until the next time. It was such a never-ending cycle! I began to wonder if there might be another way. But to stop dyeing my hair would be utter madness, right? I’d look a mess, people would think I’d given up on life, was resigned to getting old. Or would it? Is there life after hair dye? My story is that of an increasing number of women who are starting to question the
wisdom and necessity of dyeing their hair to cover the gray. Our reasons for embracing our silver hair are many: a desire to be more authentic, to save time and money, to avoid potentially harmful chemicals, or perhaps we’ve seen a few images of women looking pretty darned fine with silver hair and are just plain curious to see what we might look like, too. The process of growing it out is kind of painful. It’s not so much a bad hair day as a bad hair year! And yet at the same time, to the surprise I think of many of us, it brings unforeseen benefits. For starters, embracing one’s silver is often accompanied by a feeling of liberation and empowerment. It turns out it’s about more than just hair. You can see this process unfolding for real in the many Facebook Going Gray discussion groups that have sprung up to support women through their silver transition. This journey has forced many of us to reconsider and debate what ageing truly means, and how defined we are by deep-rooted societal norms around beauty and (preferably not) growing old. It teaches us patience and self-acceptance. Some of us find we grow that bit bolder along the way, too, that our self-confidence starts to climb. And importantly, very few of us by the end go back to dyeing it. We genuinely prefer (LOVE!) our silver hair. We realise that the scare-stories we are told about how awful gray hair is are not in fact true. Far from being a solid uniform helmet of gray, silver hair is often a riot of colours. We may have salt and pepper sprinkles, white streaks, we may be snow white all over, silver on top but still dark underneath, or any multi-tonal blend of these. And you really don’t know how it will look until you grow it out. Silver hair doesn’t have to be dull or boring or flat or lifeless. It doesn’t have to be styled in a staid or dated way. We can wear it any way we choose: Long silver tresses, short funky pixies, sharp sassy bobs, the list is endless. Our hairstyle need not be determined by our age. Healthy silver hair can look good in any style, any colour. If it suits you, then do it and enjoy it! And of course, gray hair has recently developed a new fan base. “Granny gray” (although I’m not a fan of that term!) has become a hot fashion trend as youngsters try to capture what nature has already gifted us older women. There are other benefits, too. A lot of us have noticed that we feel more congruent somehow. What we find is that, far from sucking the colour out of our skin, our natural silver hair generally suits our skin tone better as we age. It might also highlight and frame other features, such as our eye colour, in a way we’d never really noticed before. Members of Facebook Going Gray groups regularly post before and after shots, once their transition is complete. Only when scrutinising these shots side by side can we start to appreciate the visible positive benefits that typically accrue beyond simply hair colour. Women in their after shots often just look happier, glowing, more at peace, more knowing. Does it make us look older? Not necessarily. It turns out that casting off the heavy burden of societal expectations about how we ought to (not) age can be curiously rejuvenating. Many of us feel if anything younger than before. But as a psychologist I know how hard-wired and pervasive the ‘gray = old’ stereotype still is in our world. Until this stereotype is eroded – and this project is hopefully a part of that process - others may still make assumptions about our age based on our hair colour. I think part of this journey is about reaching a point where, even if some consider we do look our age, we feel a sense of contentment, acceptance and peace nonetheless. Yes, we are indeed growing older, and that is something to celebrate, not to deny. Long story short, silver hair, it turns out, is more than OK. And realising this represents a seismic shift in attitudes. Women have a choice here. They can choose to cover their gray or – drum roll, please! - they can choose to embrace it. And growing numbers of us are doing precisely that! Ben has recognised this growing silver sisterhood movement, and the huge variety of women within it, and he has worked with us to create a more positive vision: A world where women are celebrated and allowed to age positively. Where we are not derided but honoured and accepted. Where our maturity and the wisdom that accompanies it are valued personal commodities. Where a silver haired woman is not viewed as a washed-out has-been who’s given up on life but rather, as a spirited, empowered woman who has proudly evolved into her authentically beautiful middle-aged self. The feedback our shots garnered on Facebook and Instagram was life-affirming. Ben would say that the images are doing the talking, and they speak volumes. They capture the very core of what we are about, whatever that is. It might be our sensuality, our grace, our cheekiness, our serenity, or indeed a whole bunch of other wonderful attributes. Along with our defiantly silver hair, our wrinkles are still there, our chronological age has not been airbrushed out of existence. And we
shine. Had we had any misgivings about the project beforehand, we were left in no doubt that Ben was onto something. Silver haired women are indeed beautiful. One telling photo comment enquires of him: “Do you photograph those of us who are imperfect also?” Ben’s reply? “Nobody is perfect, yet everybody is perfect!” The woman in that photo was me. Tall, gawky, skinny, with the neck of a giraffe was how I saw myself before the shoot. Very far from perfect, but Ben took a moment to kindly point out to me that my gloomy glass half-empty self-assessment could be tweaked to be a bit more positive. It worked. Shy at first, I slowly warmed up. For the shot in question, Ben captured a moment when I felt I truly owned who I was: Perfectly imperfect. And he did that for each of us. That is his gift. The shots that are featured in this beautiful book showcase the incredible variety of women who have chosen to defy the norm to dye their hair, to instead be boldly, unashamedly, silver. Some never started on the hair dye merry-go-round and just let the silver hair grow in at its own pace, others had been on it for years, trapped in a cycle of frequent root touch ups and the concomitant tedious requirement to schedule major events around obligatory trips to the hairdresser. Regardless of the route we took, the end result is the same. We, the silver sisterhood, have united to show that it is still possible to be gray and glorious, that age does not in itself consign us to the scrap heap. Granted, some mental recalibration may be required to fully sign up to this more authentic you. It’s maybe more about loving and embracing the ‘now you’ as opposed to the ‘you that you used to be’. This inevitably means accepting a shift in our evolving identity as a mature woman, making a fully conscious transition. It becomes a matter of appreciating what is there now, rather than mourning what is not. But it’s not necessarily bad news. Not at all. Contrary to what society tells us, some things actually get better over time. Age brings different and surprising benefits if we allow them space to flourish. As Ben would say, where ageing is concerned, attitude is all. The silver women in this book possess that attitude in spades. It’s an attitude that defies conventional definitions of beauty. It screams empowerment and freedom. What Ben has achieved here is to showcase that attitude in us, to celebrate it in all its raw glory. On behalf of all the silver women who took part, and those who wanted to but sadly couldn’t make it, Ben Winkler, we salute you and thank you for your unwavering faith in this project and for inviting us to join with you to challenge the status quo! Louise Pendry University of Exeter, 2017
Beauty - the very idea of individuality! Intimate, unique and at the opposite end of the spectrum of generalization! ~ BW
Faces of Silver, the project, started out fairly local up and down the U.S. east coast! Before I knew it I found myself in London, U.K. photographing Deba. Unstaged and ad hoc I was shown that she was about radiance and uncomplicated joy of life in the big city!
Liz was part of a London group shoot we did crammed into one of London’s tiny hotels, with lots of charm and history we literally squeezed around in there, four of us, clothing, acessories and my equipment, the lot! One funny anecdote was that the rooms didn’t have numbers but had names after ‘themes’, ‘Goldfinger’ and co were about to be explored!
This woman is a powerhouse trailblazing her path of individuality. Undoubtedly one of the leading faces of gorgeous silver hair she has the most distinct mane that flows in the wind like timeless strands of glitter. Yazemeenah, international model and equally amazing photographer leads life on her own terms - organic, healthy and authentic are but a few terms that come to mind watching her. Organic, especially to me, is the way she â€˜seesâ€™ beauty in all its various forms. She works her designs and style in a one-of-a-kind form of presentation, fluid and natural, oftentimes in desert or ocean settings as a backdrop. My personal take from watching her short video clip creations in particular is her one of a kind ability to take the viewer into another world, to see beauty, nature and the feminine in an unknown, dream state like trail emphasizing the raw goddess like qualities in a unique, no BS way of existence... She has this special gift to make the simple appear mystical through her presentations of photography & fine art!
I came to photograph Theonita in Los Angeles in February this year and found her to be tremendously inspiring. What precedes her persona is her smile that melts whatever gets in her way! She is a visual artist creating the most stunning paintings she has for sale. At our shoot she turned into this gentle being morphing into her surroundings seemingly comfortable whatever twisting maneuvers I got her into. She became one of my early cheerleaders for our â€˜Faces of Silverâ€™ coffee table book project. Theonita spends her life helping others, sweetening their day with her distinct warmth & connecting personality!
Jen organized our New York shoot. Lots of effort and coordination went into her putting this fun shoot together. We found an old train depot and with the help of the numerous spouses we made it an interesting and memorable shoot at and odd and interesting location!
One hot Miami morning I met up with Hillary in the Wynwood arts district, who even though we sought shelter under big ceiling fans to keep cool, was a good sport about the sweltering makeup fighting heat and made it a very pleasant experience of hair blowing in the fans. So as sometimes things might seem not optimal some amazing results can result if weâ€™re just open.
let that silver glitter sparkle!
Beauty - we have an entire industry catering to what ‘they’ think we ‘should’ be, ‘look’ like, ‘dress’ like and so much more. Standards and norms we try to fit into! Not trendy or changing, beauty is or is not! A move away from generalized ideas and part of a mass! I want to argue for a case of the opposite, of them tailoring their products and services to ‘US’! For way too long have they made us miserable in making us believe that we are not good enough if we are not X, Y, or Z. Let’s face it, how many people out there would love to be us? So if we look at yourselves in the mirror what do we face? A one of a kind masterpiece! This very industry should not, in my belief, make us think we need to be someone else, but ‘help’ us enhance what we already have, who we already are. We have unlearned to experience joy in simplicity, sanitized; take a toddler for example, it finds pleasure in what it sees, untainted by your or my subjective views of what beauty should ‘mean’! Exactly, beauty doesn’t mean anything! it simply is, if we allow to just take one step to either side and view things from a fresh perspective.Beauty, vibrance, and radiance, how are they attached to youth and then suddenly at some weird deadline have to be shed? Beauty not only applies to things alive but stones, the ocean, the sky etc.
Through April’s shoot we discover that demeanor and a desire for expression can result in ‘silver mystique’!
Surrender, belief, and imagination sometimes lead to realization of our dreams!
They have molded us into thinking in rules, big campaigns bombarding us with what it now ought to be, what we ‘should’ be. So, me being the eternal rebel and not giving a flying hoot, I challenge you to see beauty, as an exercise just for a day, in as many things you can realize, from the sun, light, someone’s smile, tone, a cup, a child’s drawing and so on, your day is full of it, you’ll be amazed! ~BW
ystique ...and then the tour moved on to downunder, Australia with Silverfox Management Agency providing the bulk of our silver models there!
‘Stick it in your pipe & smoke it!’ No make up, no filter... This is what a 60 year old woman with major sleeping issue looks like. We can put on make up, fabulous clothes and accessories but at the end of the day we are what and who we are when nobody is watching. All of my 60 years on this earth are etched on my face. My body, well that is a testament to years of unhappiness and self loathing. I am learning to love myself as I am, not easy going, that inner sabotaging voice getting quieter but still there. Even the most beautiful looking people, and IG is full of them, are insecure when it comes to the crunch. I know I am not alone in the struggle for body acceptance and positivity. Add ageing into the mix and things become really interesting. I struggle from time to time but I refuse to be defeated. Ageing is a natural process not a disease to be combatted. I for one feel liberated by my age. I am having and enjoying a much better life now than I did in my 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. ‘Bring it on’ I say. I want to live loudly and vividly, enjoying every moment of every day. I refuse to be invisible. I have things to say and do and I plan on saying and doing them. I know what I want and I am not prepared to compromise. I see my life in full colour, CGI’d in 3D and with full blast surround sound. I have emerged from that darkened, black and shite silent movie theatre of my life. I am never going back. I am awake. I am alive. I see, I feel, I taste and I smell my new world and I like it. I want to experience all that life has to offer. I am not saying ‘No’ to anything that the universe is sending my way. Fabulous new experiences lie ahead! Silvana Sefanovic - Riley a.k.a. ‘Advanced Style Goddess’
How does one end up in Zagreb, Croatia to shoot one of Europe’s most prominent models for ‘Faces of Silver’? Via London, Amsterdam, Munich and Vienna of course. To my surprise, driving from Austria to Croatia, I see Zvona smiling from billboard after billboard along the highway entering the capital! Little did I know that this trip starting out in Miami would result in some of the most epic imagery I have created. Never having been there I ask Zvona where we would shoot she says no problem, one of my best friend’s husband has a studio, he was the sole photographer of Mother Theresa back in the day and she, my friend, is the top celebrated fashion designer in Croatia! So I come to ready makeup a warm and set up studio almost guilty that I had to do nothing at all. It came together by itself, very fluid & organic. Zvona has returned to her roots in her home country after living all around the world, Italy, New York city, Canada... through a prospering career as a sought after model, nowadays with a distinct white mane! I am most fortunate to have met this beautiful down to earth ambassador for numerous charity and animal rights causes who has agreed to be part of the global ‘Faces of Silver’ project!
Trust, emotion and truth all factor into beauty, how could this possibly define each and everyone of us if we were to blindly follow like sheep? Be yourself and let that be truth, your truth, your beauty! Consciously! â€˜Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. â€˜ ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
going grey: instinctive raw vivacious blossoming going authentic with self returning to the wild feminine vibrant conscious breaking the rules re-connecting with self
Faces of Silver I will tell you about a woman; a very beautiful woman. This woman is large, she is round, she is blue and she is green. She is brown. She erupts red molten lava, and her tears, at times, wash over us; and in her flooding sorrow she inadvertently takes from us much that we love. She shakes beneath our feet as she tries to hold “it” together, her very self… together; as we drain her black blood for our energy, she is emptied. And still she provides, to her greatest ability, all that we, her children, need in order to survive. She is our greatest mother, our mother earth. And she loves us, so she forgives… Like The Giving Tree who is simply left a stump, she gives… she holds the feminine energy of the universe, for her children, male and female alike, and the love they so desperately need, she embodies. It is with both love and honor that I share my journey as a woman in this world, and as I grow older in Western Culture. I find it takes work, I suppose that is true for men as well but I would venture to say that it takes a little more work, for women, like most things do. My name is Bella, and I for one, have worked very hard in my lifetime. I am 57 years old, three times divorced, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, a model, a mother, an actor, and a friend; if I hard to choose just one word to describe me that word would be kind. As a doctoral candidate who is currently completing the last two chapters of her dissertation, I was asked to write about issues faced by women as they travel through life, especially as they age, for this beautiful book… Faces of Silver. But first, I must start at the beginning, even before age… Years ago, when I was an undergrad studying social work, I was explaining to two other students, a
young woman, and a young man, that I was unhappy because a professor’s assistant was grading my essay instead of the professor himself; I said that I would be okay with an assistant grading a multiple-choice test but not my essay, due to the inherent subjectivity involved, (and I did not agree with the critique). And do you know what that young man said to me, a woman? What his words of support were? He said, “Don’t worry; it was probably some stupid girl.” Say what? The worst part was that no one else seemed to notice the absurdity of this comment, and I was too young and dumb-founded to reply. Yet it was in that exact moment that I decided that women were the most discriminated group of all because if I had been an ethnic minority this young privileged, white male, would have known better than to reply in a derogatory manner regarding another’s race; but their gender, this was simply not on his radar. Although I appreciated the support he was offering I was deeply struck by the absurdity of the situation, and the depth of the oppression I suddenly realized I faced. That same year, and in another class, a white male was disgruntled because of affirmative action. He was exclaiming that “he” was being discriminated against because he was a white male. True. I told him how lucky he was to have the opportunity to finally experience what others regularly experience, not just “once” in a lifetime, but rather “for” a lifetime. (I think this time it was he who was perplexed.) Sadly, this same year, in a health class, I learned about female genital mutilation (the cutting off of the clitoral hood, clitoral glans, inner labia, outer labia and a closure of the vulva). This still happens today, it primarily
occurs in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. According to the World Health Organization (2017), 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated. The majority of girls are cut before they turn 15 years old. This is in an attempt to control women, and their sexuality. “She” becomes the property of the groom and is nicely sewn up, a package, a gift, to be excitedly torn open on her wedding night, and later again as she welcomes her firstborn child. Yes, I do believe it is a little harder, to be a woman… or a girl. But what about growing older in Western Culture, as a woman, when you begin to lose value for your inherent sexuality, the physical desire, the creation of the child? Well, in a patriarchal culture you simply, begin… to fade…. Into every color that ever was, or wasn’t, into a diaphanous infinity of space and time…. So I ask, in my life, and in my dissertation as well, what is the lived experience of women today, as they age? Why is there this current trend of mid-age women growing their hair into its natural silver color when society tells us that color is wrong; the color of silver is something to be ashamed of, and to hide. And whether we recognize this, or not, why do we do feel shame as we see the roots growing in… something we feel pressured to quickly hide. And when we don’t hide: our hair, our age, ourselves, as the women on the pages of this book are so beautifully exemplifying, why is it that we begin to feel so liberated, so free, so powerful? The Silver Faces seen here on these pages represent a growing number of women whom are not cooperating, not fading, and they certainly are not silent! I realize also that these are the same women who were burning their bras back in the 60’s… they were strong
and outspoken then, and it appears that they have not changed. And I am so very proud to be one with them, regardless of the hair color they choose to wear, because hair color is but one way to make a statement and to make a change. But silver hair is the subject of my dissertation; it is titled, Silver Sisters: A Feminist Study of Strength, Solidarity and Self. And as a midage woman I am interested in learning more about the collective “lived experience” of all women as they liberate and break out of the box of social conditioning. And I know that we ALL have worked very hard. For my dissertation I interviewed several silver-haired women, and I researched the history of women as they age, in Western Culture. I wonder why it’s presumed to be “bad”, and why, suddenly, there is an oppositional trend to embrace aging, and in doing so embrace our very selves. This has yet to be studied which is why this research is both valid and necessary. Through social media especially, I see women embracing and supporting one another and their natural hair colors, and as they do, I observe a sense of freedom, power, and authenticity emerging. From a depth perspective this may be the first time that we, as women, are realizing on a conscious level, that we have more to offer than the limitations prescribed by current culture and the patriarchal atmosphere that surrounds us. As we find our collective voice, we are speaking… out loud, in words and actions; we are standing up to the multidimensional pressures of oppression. I find it interesting that as I write, many other women are speaking up and speaking out about the oppression they have faced as well: in the entertainment industry, in politics, and in life. I in no way want to bash men. Men are lovely. And I love men. They are truly
beautiful and sensitive souls… but they are also victims (as are we), of the culture in which we all live. We are all influenced; we don’t know… what we don’t know. There is a vast (and often unseen) difference between the concept of men and women, and the concept of masculine and feminine energy, because we ALL have both. And it is my belief that we are all victimized by the current cultural emphasis, and value, placed on the masculine. But this is not the problem, i.e., too much emphasis and value on the masculine energy. I believe the problem stems from too little value of the feminine, the mother, the earth… from where it began… and without our collective care I wonder where it will go? Without increased value of the feminine I wonder where we will go, collectively, both as human beings and as a culture. In the last 6 months I have: been diagnosed with stage 3 uterine cancer, undergone major surgery, declined chemotherapy-radiation-chemotherapy (the “sandwich” approach that was recommended by the surgeon), moved two-weeks post surgery to Hawai’i to complete my pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology, and ended up on 35 giant posters all abound NYC modeling for Icon/Thinx. Absolutely none of this was planned except for the move to Hawai’i. Life is so full of wonder! And I am, at this point, just so grateful to be alive, today, silver hair and all! I am filled with nothing but love and gratitude and I realize, like the Velveteen rabbit, that over time, we become real, and it is only when we are very, very, real, that we can truly be loved… PS A male acquaintance of mine, responding to my recent good fortune, said this to me, “FYI, purely from a guy’s perspective, gray doesn’t work. Gray is old,
blonde is young. Strictly a male POV, [point of view].” Right! I think that IS the point! But perhaps it is NOT the “male” POV, but rather the “masculine” point of view, since many women feel the same way. My hope is that as a culture, we continue to grow, following cutting-edge trends in psychology such as: horticulture therapy, attachment theory and the integration of the two, (after all we breath each other’s breath just as we have breathed each other in, for all time). May we begin to integrate the land, the love, and the wisdom of the mother, our mother; our earth… into our souls… I toast to you, Silver Sisters; the pioneers (then and now), and the beautiful Silver Faces of today! To those who say, “Silver is old,” I simply reply, THANK YOU! ☺ (And I also thank you, Ben Winkler, for your passion, your efforts, and your love.) Blessings to ALL! (almost…) Dr. Bella Elizabeth “Bella” McCloud, MS, Doctoral Candidate, Psy.D., Clinical Psychology, E-RYT@500 Faces of Silver
wandering & searching you deserve it sisterhood your wild feminine weaving fate
DIGNITY - STRENGTH - BEAUTY
The confidence to emit to the world who we really are without judgement. Isn’t this what we all strive for? There are so many destinations on our journey that having arrived can’t possible be in the cards. Who would want that anyway. Isn’t it our purpose to continue to not only learn but to teach, better yet, inspire? So many questions to be answered as we wake up ready to start yet another day arriving. I have always been a person to try to make a difference in at least one persons day whether I knew it or not, but it’s not until fairly recently that I have really figured out who I am and what exactly I bring to this extraordinary “table” of life. I have no age nor a filter for age. I treat young and old alike which I know can be shocking to some that I encounter. I am definitely not one to wear my heart on my sleeve but I will share with you this, I am so so happy, fun, loud, energetic, genuine, kinda smart, aware, passionate, loving, relaxed, and funny, actually I am hilarious!!! This isn’t a brag but a self realization that has taken my life time to figure out. I realize that I am not for everyone but I can honestly say that I love me. in realizing all that i have and am, I am BLESSED. Abby Woodsworth - Boretto
While recently on Facebook I noticed this advertisement for Faces of Silver and the lovely photograph attached to it caught my attention immediately. Followed by this handsome man who was the photographer for this project a book called Faces of Silver. Upon reading about it I realized he was photographing woman with gorgeous strand of silver & white and various shades of salt and pepper, and they were all around the same age as me. I went to the web page benwinkler.com and was stunned at the quality and beauty in these photos taken by Ben. I decided to contact him when I saw San Diego was listed on upcoming photoshoots. Ben Contacted me and be began trying to coordinate this get together. Sadly, initially our get together fell through but months later it fell into place. At first, I was elated but then begin to doubt my own beauty. Ever thing from weight height teeth nose you name it I was feeling over whelmed, what will I wear what makeup .I had completely given up on wearing makeup since I was unsure how to wear makeup with my grey hair and the younger girls were not helpful at the stores and I would leave feeling those horrible old feelings again, The day arrived and I had no idea how this would all work after all I had never had my photos done by such a talents man before, so upon arrival in Vista with a few changes of clothes we arrived to meet at a park. At first, I thought this is strange are we shooting outside or in a studio. well then, I met a silver sister Karin who guided us to where Ben was currently photographing another beautiful silver sister. I was so nervous trying to say and do the right thing. Then It was my turn to be photographed. the very first thing Ben Whispered to me “I love your hair it’s beautiful”. Awe the fears began to subside. Ben explained some brief instructions like when I move my hand to this location do not follow with your head just follow my hand with your eyes. Well that fear of being barked out orders immediately faded away I just knew I was in Gentle hands. With ever subtle movement I felt the confidence growing and the fears melting away. I found myself at one point thinking why couldn’t everything in life be this calming. why couldn’t all teachers teach with gentleness. as the day went on the group of us ladies began to laugh and get silly and encourage one another, I even photographed Ben photographing the beautiful girls my husband Wade was photographing Ben behind the scenes which was fascinating. We went from spot to spot on the streets in alley ways. I began to feel apart of something very big and very special. After the photos shoot was over a group of us went to Belching Beaver for some lunch we snapped cell phones of each other and as groups. Friendships were made. FB accounts were exchanged and then the hugs. sincere hugs new friend hugs. Later that evening the personal photos started
popping up on line and we could see the real beauty of how Ben had captured us. I was amazed at my photo when saw it. I had never had such a lovely photo taken of me. As time went on I started to see the photos coming out of all of us and the compliments from each other I started to change. I have never felt pretty and here these women were showering me and each other with sincere compliments. Recently I have felt a major shift in my life. I have felt prettier. It’s Ok To be turning 60 in March. its ok to have silver hair. I started to live a hash tag I saw on my photo that ben had posed #silverhairdontcare it is Ok to have scars and not perfect teeth. I have lived almost 6 decades I am not 20 30 40 hardly 50 any longer It is Ok that I may not look like someone else I look like me. And there is only one me in this world. Ben explained that what I see everyday is not what he see’s when he looks at me thru the lens, the inner beauty the soul perhaps. What has changed since the photoshoot for Faces of Silver? A lot I have started feeling less physical pain and replaced it with a smile. I started going thru the things in my life that no longer encourage me or leave me feeling drained or drab. I purchased and started wearing makeup again though I am still not sure what I am doing with it at least I am trying. The compliments have poured in over his beautiful photos. And those who I allowed to make me feel less then or ugly were let go and replaced with a whole new group of friends who enlighten and encourage one another. You’re probably thinking, how could a few photos of me and my silver hair accomplish all this and my answer could only be one thing and that is Ben’s Ability to capture our true beauty and not edit our flaws but embrace them and in return we do not feel that need to hide our light from society. Just the opposite I felt an immediate desire to stand straighter use my eyes more to communicate sub consciously straighten my posture smile and giggle thru the gapped teeth and just be the Real Audrey that I am when I am alone in my home. Like Ben Winkler Says We have only just begun and I hope this amazing ride never ends because it feels amazing to finally be free to become me. So, this is my Testimonial of what it felt like to be photographed by Ben Winkler Inc. He’s So much more then a man behind the camera lens he is like for lack of better words The Beauty Whisperer he releases what has always been inside us and truly sets it free so we can fly and then he photographs us as we fly to new heights. Audrey Wilmot
I have always embraced my silver hair even when girlfriends & hairdressers have suggested that a certain dye or henna will not give me an allergic reaction. The day you photographed me I had had oral surgery for my gums that morning & was under weight from the gum & mouth issues so when I initially saw the photos you took I was a little disappointed but weeks & months later when I look back at them & see the real me and I like what I see! “True Grit” Funnily enough I just started reading Joan Didion’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” and I’m about to read the John Wayne essay. Ms. Didion doesn’t dye her hair either, right? I really appreciated the fact that you shot me by some of my favorite Muck murals & felt in my element. All in all I found the experience to be empowering & I thank you! Warm regards Sharon Gelfand
Heike Where I grew up in the Austrian Alps we called someone who can’t sit still and is full of energy ‘mercury’ as they are constantly on the go and this is how I perceived Heike. Dropped in Melbourne, Australia on a chilly fall morning, this german immigrant showed me what goofing around combined with a serious face can result in during an ad hoc shoot outdoors in one of Melbourne’s beautiful parks by the river. Heike came through a collaboration with Australian ‘Silverfox Management Group’, a model agency geared for mature models. Her youthful spirit reminded me of Peter Pan, never wanting to grow up, yet in a beautiful woman’s form dancing through life with energy and zest open for anything fun around the next corner.
silver: confident, provocative, inspiring!
adore your silver!
ration I believe that not coloring my hair is more the idea of embracing the present and who I truly am at this point in time. The holding on to a more youthful look does not appeal to me or my feelings of the way I present myself on a daily basis. The grey, I believe, lends itself to a dignity born of years of life experience and an acceptance and joy of life. ~ Linda
reconnect: sensuality discovery essential omnipresent breaking stigmas core identity journey to your origin at your core â€˜I AMâ€™
So you drive two hours north from Los Angeles to the gorgeous valley of Ojai to do a sunset shoot that NEVER happens. You initially connect with your model, once there try to get the lay of the land, and start chasing the light from one end of the valley to the other, finally giving up due to high mountain ranges blocking the light so you start heading for the ocean yet you take the westbound route which turns out to be the longer one just to find you’re always late wherever you turn. Hours turn into throwing my hands in the air, grabbing a bite to eat and returning to Katherine’s house to drop her off when I say just give me 15 minutes, the entire shoot is set up, shot and wrapped up in literally fifteen minutes straight resulting in amazing imagery that couldn’t have turned out better in the setting sun! Katherine exudes this understated radiance, content, welcoming in an inviting & healing kind of way hence her work: ‘Beautiful Sexy Soulful You: Spiraling Up: From Fear to Love; The Woman’s Journey Home to Herself. Love yourself into a Vivacious and Re-Beautified You and live the life of your dreams; beautiful, passionate, pleasured and loved!’
Thank You: to my mother for the awareness and to stand up for whatâ€™s right, to each and every one of you featured in here, without you this would only have been a dream, to Silverfox Mgmnt Group, Sydney, for their cooperation and for providing their beautiful models! to Silvana Stefanovic for hosting my Australian part of the tour, to everyone involved who might not have been mentioned elsewhere!! 125
A two year global project featuring the beauty & radiance of gray haired women and their manes!