in conversation with Helen
our womanhood ~ chapter II
As part of our latest campaign, we invited our community to take part in a shoot for womanhood. As with all our images, they remain untouched.
We had a chat with Helen about what womanhood means to her and the journey she has been on.
"I’m 43 and my fierce grandmother died in her early 90s so feel like I’ve got a long way to go and yet in some ways, I feel so ancient and exhausted already, ha!
I feel like one day I was 28 and then woke up and I was 40, and invisible, with two daughters approaching teenage-dom and all that entails. Before that, I don’t think I thought of my gender or womanhood much at all.
I guess one of the fortunate things about not being Gen X, is I grew up without social media. I had some insecurities of course but not about my body really. I was slim, had good skin etc.. so I think I totally took my body for granted. I definitely didn’t nourish my body (or mind) in the way I should, and it caught up with me. In the last 10 years, I have steadily gained weight and that has been a huge adjustment - to start to experience age and hormone-related issues with my skin, to realise my body will never look like it did pre childbirth.
However, I’ve come out the other side of this and strangely I’ve never felt more at ease in my own skin. It is very much a “this is me” situation. The weight, the tattoos are an integral part of me - I feel like myself in any given situation now dressed or undressed. 40 was really hard, my body wasn’t the same, my mental health wasn’t good, my life had completely changed and I didn’t feel in control of things. The last three years I’ve worked really hard to get a handle on myself and what validates me.
Having daughters has also made me incredibly aware of the damage done to girls on a daily basis with seemingly harmless comments from strangers/friends or family on how you look. I owe it to them to be a positive role model. It's insidious that as womxn we are so judged on our physical appearance. In realising I am so much more than my dress size, I have definitely reached a sense of peace in my own skin but there’s still a fire in my untoned belly to keep fighting for change.
All the rage I felt as a teenager about systemic inequalities, gender disparity, is now reflooding my system. My friends and I joke that the rage is a precursor to the perimenopause, but I think it’s more that motherhood is so consuming you can lose sight of the wider world for a time.
There’s so much that needs changing for womxn and girls (times that by 100 if you are a non-white womxn) so I’ve begun to look at womanhood and gender on a much large scale. I am learning everyday and really thinking about what I can do with my privilege and hindsight for myself, my daughters, the womxn I love and way beyond my immediate circle in both my work and personal life.
Helen wears sets by Moons and Junes.
Helen also draws figures which we adore and want to share. To see more of her art head to @kestrelryeillustrates