Apr 2, 2024

Fierce After Forty: Being Proud to Be Me

Are you able to say you are “proud to be me?”

For many women, the path to self-love and self-confidence is long and riddled with potholes along the way. Each day more and more women are waking up to their worth and are making brave bold decisions to reclaim themselves, bucking societal and cultural norms. 

Fierce, delicate, and proud, our recent Fierce After Forty Spark Alumni discussed with us what it means to her to have reached her fifth decade of life. A proud survivor of domestic violence, her “journey hasn’t been sunshine and roses.” But she’s come “out the other side very strong” and is ready to enjoy the rest of her life to the fullest using her voice to raise awareness about domestic violence.  

After her session, Spark Alumni Clionagh sat down with our hair and makeup artist, Michelle, to discuss what being a part of the Fierce After Forty Project meant to her. 

Read on to learn more about her inspirational story. 

Woman with bright red hair and deep blue eyes in a gold shirt sitting on a red velvet chair.  Photography by Lindsay HIte

What does the word “fierce” bring to mind?

“Fierce means being strong and being proud of who I am and the person I have become; there’s just one of me on this earth and I’m proud to be me, to be her, to be that girl. As I have overcome domestic violence, some days are hard and I still get down, but I have and will always get back up again; to continue living a content and happy life; that’s fierce.”

What are you proud of yourself for having overcome in your life? 

“Looking back at my story, I’m extremely proud of the strength and reliance I have shown in escaping an extremely abusive long-term relationship. I was at my most weak, fragile, and broken state when I found the tiniest drop of strength to leave and start rebuilding my self-worth and life. I was very fearful of my abuser but I remained at the hands of him for so long primarily out of shame; I was so ashamed that I had allowed someone to do this to me. But with the help of my wonderful support network of friends and family, professional support, and educating myself regarding domestic violence, I can say I now feel the opposite; domestic abuse doesn’t define me and I am a very proud survivor.

Side by side 2 images of a woman with bright red hair.  On the left, a woman with an animal print shirt sitting on a leather sofa.  On the right, woman wearing a gold shirt with a black background.

What have you learned about yourself in life since stepping into your current decade?

“My current decade only started three months ago, so I’m a newbie to my 40s, but I have learned how precious and delicate life is. As a result of domestic abuse, my twenties and thirties were not kind or gentle to me but I know that my 40s are going to be my best decade ever. So I’m starting out strong.”

What do you value now that you didn’t value in your earlier years?

“I have learned to value myself again. I’m proud of myself for what I’ve both overcome and achieved in life and of the person I have become.” 

“More than ever, I value kindness. I’ve always been a kind person, but I’m now extra considerate of the smallest gestures we can offer to others in our day-to-day. Going through the experience I’ve had, I’m very mindful that strangers I encounter in my daily, such as in a grocery store or a coffee shop could be going through the worst day of their life; so, learning to slow down life’s pace and offer the smallest kind gesture could make a huge difference to someone’s day. 

Side by side image of woman: on the Left, woman in animal print shirt, black pants, and leather coat standing up against a white background.  On the Right, same woman in a white fluffy dress.  Boudoir Photography by Lindsay Hite

What do you want others to know about what it means to be a woman over forty? 

“I would say to enjoy it all because getting to any decade isn’t a given. You should cherish life, enjoy it, and be proud to be you, but be gracious and kind along the way.”

What are you looking forward to in the coming years?

“I am looking forward to everything! This may sound silly but I’m looking forward to my future so much; the day-to-day simple stuff; from finding a yummy new coffee shop to walks with my boys and our pup but mostly watching my boys get older and grow, as I am immensely proud to be their Mummy. I’m also looking forward to continuing to expand my ability to raise awareness for domestic violence. That’s something I’m very passionate about.”

Woman with bright red hair and deep blue eyes in a gold shirt laying on a dark teal bed.  Photography by Lindsay HIte

What has being part of this Fierce After Forty project meant to you, and why did you choose to apply to be a part of it?

“I’ve taken many steps in my healing to evolve from a victim of domestic abuse to a proud survivor. This has included many avenues including professional support from trained counselors and publicly speaking about my story of survival but my confidence was still wavering about my personal appearance. So this was the next step. To be able to come here and know that I’m worthy of this day, then to see the photographs and to know that the woman I’m looking at is in-fact me – it means everything.” 

What does it mean to be part of a photography project that highlights the beauty and strength of women over forty?

“It means so much and I’m so grateful to be part of this project. It is helping me blast into my 40s feeling even stronger and more confident in myself as a person.”

Woman with bright red hair and deep blue eyes in a white fluffy dress laying on the ground.  Boudoir photography by Lindsay Hite.

What advice would you give to yourself 20-30 years ago? 

“I would say, no matter what, expect the same kindness and respect from others as you give out in the world. Nobody in this world has the right to verbally or physically hurt another person, especially someone with whom you are in a relationship. I wish I realized I was worth so much more than what I was told I was worth. I can’t get those 20 years back, but I can fill the next 20 years, jam-packed tight with laughter and lots of love and kindness”

What does your Fierce After Forty portrait say about you? 

“My Fierce After Forty portrait says that I’m happy and proud and I’m back with a vengeance.”

The Fierce After Forty Project, designed by Show Your Spark Photography Studio, seeks to highlight powerful women over Forty through photography and storytelling.  In doing so, we inspire countless other women to embrace and celebrate their journey, bodies, and power – no matter their season of life. 

As part of our ongoing philanthropic work, we donated a portion of the profits from the entire project to DOVE (Domestic Violence Ended), an organization committed to hope, healing, safety, and social change as they work to end domestic and partner violence. At the end of the sessions in the fall of 2023, our donations totaled $1000 to DOVE. We are honored to partner with DOVE in helping women stand in their power and shine their light.

If you want to show off your After Forty Fierceness, contact us today!

Remember, you are powerful, courageous, and one of a kind! Show Your Spark!

Here’s what to expect when you contact us

  1. Schedule a free consultation call to have all your questions answered and start planning your Spark Experience. 
  2. Select a Spark Session date that fits your schedule. (Studio located in Braintree, MA)
  3. Rock the session like the bright light that you are, and create beautiful, tangible artwork to inspire you for the rest of your life. 

Remember, you are powerful, courageous, and one of a kind! Show Your Spark!

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