HaveHeart Magazine is about real beauty. That doesn’t mean something as simple as #no filter. What it means is learning to appreciate someone for who they really are, as they really are. When we choose our cover models, a lot of work goes into the process. We ask ourselves: what are they doing to better the world? Who are they as a person? What do they stand for? What can they teach us?
We’d like to introduce Robbie Kaye as our March cover woman. She’s a mash-up of creativity, talent, spark and beauty. It’s no wonder her latest book, Beauty and Wisdom is such a huge success, and you definitely haven’t seen a publication like this before. Being a talented photographer with a keen eye for the unseen, Robbie found herself photo documenting elderly women in beauty shops. Little did she know, it would change how she saw the beauty in herself.
First we had to know, how on earth did she get involved with such an amazing project? “This project found me,” said Robbie. “I wasn’t looking for it and wasn’t an epiphany. I stumbled on something that in the end turned out to be a quest of understanding and a crusade to alter the perception of aging/ beauty and the treatment of our elders. I walked through the door of a beauty shop and the women I saw inspired me to take the project this far. I saw the faces of women who have weathered many storms and supported many people through trials and tribulations. These women fought for all of us to expand our culture that still is so very focused on the beauty of youth and all that is ‘obviously’ beautiful. I wanted to do something to create visibility and interrupt the groove that we seem to be stuck in. It was a scary process for me because I had to face my own journey of aging in the process. The more I photographed, the more denial I had to strip away from my own ideals and vanity. I had to face the reality that I too, if the powers that be allow, will be aging as well. It was as if I was allowed to be a voyeur in a sacred club where older women gathered. One of the most important things I learned from the Beauty and Wisdom project was that there is nothing to be afraid of and everything to look forward to! I consider myself so lucky to have been engulfed in a project where I was surrounded by older goddesses, grandmothers, and sages. These women allowed me into their lives, even if only for a few minutes. They were so loving and open.”
It’s no secret that our shallow society has one very definitive version of beauty, but times may be changing. Thanks to women like Robbie, people are realizing that just because media says one thing, it doesn’t mean it’s true. “I do believe there is a collective consciousness for body positivity that is occurring and for that, I am grateful. Could it be because the majority of our population is reaching an age that is no longer viewed as sexy or voluptuous in our shallow culture? In honesty, the reasons don’t matter. This project found me at age 49, months before turning 50 and after years of living in the vain world of entertainment, I started to take a look at what is truly real and important. I’ve always been inspired by Gloria Steinem’s words on aging, something to the effect of, “there are two ways to age… one as a bitter woman and the other as embracing it.” I believe this is a decision to be made by most women at a certain point in their lives. I didn’t want to be bitter or try and hold on to my youth because I was afraid of what was ahead.”
With all of those negative messages piled on her shoulders, it’s difficult to imagine any woman developing a positive body/self image, even as they years grew by. We asked her where she’s at today, as a grown woman.
“My perception has changed quite a bit, but in all honestly, not without that internal struggle that goes on between acceptance and resistance.” Robbie says. “Some days, it is extremely difficult for me to feel beautiful when I catch myself in the mirror and see the many lines in my face. Other days, I am in total acceptance and I don’t think twice about it. I had the ‘good’ fortune of always looking a lot younger than my age until my early 40s when it all caught up with me and people started guessing my age or even older, but at that time I was still toting around the engrained mindset from my shallow past. I guess that’s why I started to really take a look at aging. By the time I reached 49 and started taking photographs of these older women, something in me matured. I felt I was growing a strong kinship and acceptance with the women I was photographing in regards to aging. Ultimately, I learned that I have a choice to embrace the aging process with grace and joy. I dream of desensitizing our entire culture and inserting the beauty and importance of older people. I rejoice in their elder-hood, love to hear their stories, see their faces and take counsel from their wisdom. I feel camaraderie from my peers who share in the quest to alter the perception of age and bring credence to the importance of our elders. And it makes me happy if there is an essence of comfort that is experienced from other women, that they realize how gorgeous they are, in every way, at every age. I have experienced immense support which tells me I am not alone on this journey. I hope the impact will affect us all and give visibility and voice to our elders.”
Something tells us that’s exactly the impact she’s making. –HH