Northampton woman launches no make-up photography campaign to celebrate midlife women

Middle-aged women across Northamptonshire and beyond have posed make-up free for a new photography campaign to defy 'filter culture' and normalise the aging process.

By Carly Roberts
Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 11:19 am
Jo Blackwell.
Jo Blackwell.

The women, all aged 40 plus, are standing against the Instagram world, where they feel under pressure to look perfect and live life through a filter.

The campaign, called 'Face it, Own it!' was created by Brixworth photographer Jo Blackwell, 58, who is also the founder of The Midlife Movement, an online community to support and empower midlife women.

Now Jo is urging other women aged over 40 to get involved in the campaign by taking no make-up selfies and submitting them online. The images could be included in an upcoming exhibition and book.

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Lucy Howe.

Jo, who was inspired by her own life-changing experience of ageing, said: “To look young for your age is considered a compliment but there’s nothing wrong with being older – we’re beautiful just as we are. Every line, grey hair, lump and bump speaks of our experience, strength and character.

"There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good, or in wearing make-up. But it’s time to reclaim our natural beauty and not be ashamed that we are no longer youthful.

"I see beauty in every woman I photograph. They are full of wisdom, grace and joy and I feel privileged to be able to reflect that back to them.”

Jo became a photographer in her 50s after years of working in the family business as a bookkeeper. At the age of 49 she found herself feeling lost and depressed and suffering from panic attacks.

Kezzabelle Ambler.

She experienced insomnia, forgetfulness, noise sensitivity and at one point struggled to even get out of bed in the morning. Eventually, she realised she was suffering from peri-menopausal symptoms.

Jo started writing a blog to release her thoughts and emotions, and people from all over the world contacted her, telling her how much they identified with what she was writing.

She sought out alternative treatments for her physical symptoms, but it was the online connections through her blog that eventually pulled her out of her depression.

At the age of 50 Jo found herself with a new zest for life. She took a photography course, and a new career as a portrait photographer was born. More recently she turned the blog into a book and since then she has launched The Midlife Movement, as an online hub of information and support for midlife women.

Jo, who has four children and eight grandchildren, says: “I’m thriving – I run a successful business and feel better than ever. Midlife is an exciting and empowering time for women who often find themselves with more time to devote to their desires and ambitions after years of putting their family first. We shouldn’t look at midlife as crisis but as an incredible opportunity. Some doors may be closing but many more are opening ahead.”

Find out more about Face It, Own It! and get involved: