In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would publish my interview with Denise Boomkens. Denise is the founder of AndBloom project on Instagram, and author of AndBloom, which features inspiring stories about life from 100+ extraordinary ‘ordinary’ women over 40, and some into their 90s. Each woman’s story is accompanied by a stunning color portrait photographed by Denise. As she describes, “Together, they are a force of nature and role models for aging unapologetically.”
Inspiring women to embrace life without fear and be proud of their years
I receive countless books from publishers and publicists. Denise’s book grabbed my attention. The more I read, the more I wanted to learn about its author who created a motivational community for post 40 women to embrace aging. I’ll let Denise, who is herself a post 40 female, share her own story and tell you more about AndBloom. I hope you enjoy the interview. Be sure to read down to the bottom and enter the giveaway — one lucky reader will win a copy of AndBloom
Tell me about your background.
Denise: “I am Denise. Friends call me Dee. I am a photographer fueled by compassion, curiosity, and a drive to change the current view of society on aging.
In my younger days, I worked as a fashion model. Living in Milan, Paris, and London, I traveled the world to work for many clients. When I was 25, I moved back to the Netherlands to become a photographer. After finishing art school at 29, I started working as a photographer and loved every minute of it; I loved fashion, beauty, and taking pictures of beautiful people. I worked worldwide from Tokyo to New York, from Capetown to Seoul.”
Why did you launch the AndBloom project?
Denise: “When I approached the ‘BIG 40’, I noticed a certain dissatisfaction about aging, especially amongst women. Exploring this dissatisfaction in my work and private life made me realize that it occurs not only in women over 40 but also in many younger women. Young women who worry about getting older are middle-aged women who think they no longer count after a certain age.
Women, young and old(-er), that follow (the often) unrealistic example of (social) media. The anti-aging campaigns use models barely over the age of 20 or Hollywood women that have everything ‘done’ to look younger. It can be, of course, a bit confusing, looking at celebrities your age that look at least 15 years younger than you do because of great light, filters, Botox, fillers, or other (radical) facial treatments.
Giving birth to my son at 40 changed my perspective. An awareness came over me; I call it ‘motherhood.’ Everything that was once important to me was suddenly less necessary. If someone had told me five years ago that I would be a mother one day, I would have declared them crazy. During early motherhood, I was given time to think about my work, and I decided to give my career a new, more meaningful direction. On an empty Thai beach, during endless walks with my 2-year-old son, I decided to start this new project.”
I posted the first portrait on a brand new Instagram account in June 2018. It was a portrait of my mother.”
What is the AndBloom Community?
Denise: “AndBloom is an online happy place for women over 40. I aim to post/write/speak about the “normal” everyday things of life. I portray extraordinary ‘ordinary’ women. I prefer to talk about subjects that are rarely discussed and that are taboo. But fashion, beauty and lifestyle are also favorites.”
The Community sounds empowering. How did it shape your perspectives on women and aging happily?
Denise: “I think my two previous careers shaped me in that. As a young woman, I was also strongly influenced by my grandmother and my mother. I had a grandmother who was terrified of aging and who openly expressed and showed that fear. And a mother who was not concerned with that at all. They both taught me a lot.”
What prompted you to write a book?
Denise: “I was asked to publish my work by my publisher. I myself had no desire to publish a book, but I think it is a huge compliment that I was asked.”
For your book AndBloom you interviewed and photographed more than 100 women over 40, some even 100. What insights did you gain from these, as you say, extraordinary ‘ordinary’ women? Were there differences about aging you noticed between the women in different decades of their life?
Denise: “The most profound thing I’ve learned from portraying almost 200 women is that we all change mentally and physically starting around the age of 40. That working with ‘ordinary’ women keeps it real (instead of all the Instagram glamour and the Hollywood beauties). It’s very refreshing to look at real faces and talk about real things like loss, divorce, menopause, grief, abuse, etc. Most women encounter similar difficulties in life.”
How can women post 40 become part of the AndBloom Community?
Denise: “I work non-profit regarding the portraits. I ask women who interest me or choose women who contacted me to collaborate. It’s a give-and-take situation entirely focused on energy and mindset. I have only two rules: an age-positive attitude and freedom to dress them (and groom them) however I wish.”
Any last words of wisdom to share?
Denise: “Stop comparing yourself to others, but if you really have to compare yourself, buy my book. 😉 Jokes aside, comparison kills, but we need inspiration in life. So if you look for inspiration, make sure it is a real example and within your reach. Look at yourself with softer eyes every single day. If you have an off-day don’t look at yourself at all. Remember that aging is a natural process and that every change your body goes through is normal.”
Thank you Denise for sharing your story. BTW, Denise’s AndBloom book makes a great gift for Mother’s Day or for a birthday for a special post 40 female friend. You can also join the AndBloom community on Instagram @and.bloom.
Enter the giveaway to win a copy of AndBloom
To enter to win a copy of AndBloom, complete the rafflecopter entry below or leave a comment about how you intend to age “unapologetically.” One lucky reader will be selected.
Happy Mother’s Day!