I have been so excited about taking this photograph! It was really important to me that the first person who I photographed for Exposing 40 was this friend. Call me sentimental.
Yesterday morning. Tea and toast in a sunny kitchen, catching up on gossip. Then: “Darling, we are going to the bathroom to photograph the scar where you came out of Mummy, you can come in if you want.” My God, my friend is the most laidback cool mum. Her son is a dream.
Footsteps pad down the hallway towards us and a face appears, bearing very important news: “Auntie Catherine, this is a Roman warrior.” A few minutes later: “MUMMY, there’s a bee in the kitchen.”
It was funny and perfect and I will hold the memory close.
The Whitechapel Smile is what my friends (her husband is not just her husband, he’s my friend too!) call her caesarean scar, in an affectionate nod to the hospital where their son was born. When we first chatted about photographing her scar she described how she once hated it but now thinks of it as being part of the “rich tapestry of my life.”
We talked about it yesterday. She touched on her issues with the physicality of the scar – the lip it’s created that’s visible through swimwear, the fact that underwear slips down and gets caught uncomfortably in the ridge. But more interesting were her reflections on how motherhood had changed her relationship with her body.
That relationship had always been a close one – it wasn’t disassociated from the rest of life in the way some people separate their physical and intellectual selves: “I really inhabited my body, I was aware of it.” Childbirth changed all of that. Nearly four years on she says it’s only really in the last six months that she feels really in touch with her body again, that it is once again becoming an expression of herself and her sexuality.
“What’s happened in the last six months?”
“From 30, when I looked in the mirror my feelings about what I saw were all about not looking as good as I once had. I felt like I was fading.”
She was driving as we chatted and glanced away from the road to me.
“We are aging really well you know. We both look bloody good for 40.”
Eyes back to the road.
“Now, when I look in mirror I don’t see what’s gone I think ‘bloody hell you look good for your age.’ Forty feels like a turning point.”