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Sixty-Five & Feeling Fab

By Resa McConaghey:

It was a direct challenge to model this Art Gown. Her name is Tenesa, and she is actually an “Honorary Art Gown.”

Tenesa was once a wedding gown. I had been saving her in my movie wardrobe closet for almost 10 years. Any costume designer will tell you, "You never know what the director might ask for the night before a shot goes down."

One day, I was gazing out of a window into the back alley. In the alley was a group of street artists painting away. Light bulb! I covered Judy in plastic, threw the wedding gown on her, and dragged her out to the artists. An artist named Tensoe responded to my plea to spray paint her. Hence Tenesa, a combo of Tensoe and Resa.

She looked more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. I posted her on my street art blog. One of my pals saw it and said, “You should model this!”

I replied, ”I’m too old to do that.”

I expressed how bad I felt about aging and how I didn’t want my picture taken anymore. You see, inasmuch as I think I am a woman of today and modern ideas, certain social opinions make me feel insignificant. Old women don’t model gowns! Old is not pretty!

Old is seniors, impotent and unimportant.

Where did I get these ideas?

Marketing has been brainwashing me since I was a kid. It began with a Clairol campaign for hair dye. “Is It True Blondes Have More Fun?”

I had dark brown hair and olive skin. The boys at school called me "squaw." So, herein lies another part of the equation: Some men dictated how a woman should look, and others bought into it.

Not much has changed, but things have progressed. We have Botox, fillers, plastic surgery, liposuction, hormone supplements, waxings, threadings, etc. ad infinitum.

Now, some men are buying into it. They are becoming more and more brainwashed into buying all the needs to prevent looking old. Not all men are rich and powerful, so youth is what is left. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about toothpaste, soap, deodorant, a razor, and other basic hygiene products. However, how many on this planet can even afford these basics, let alone other products and services to maintain the dictated ideas of beauty and youth?

Can’t I just be beautiful by being a healthy person at any age? I eat well, I get exercise, I practice basic grooming.

I use a bit of make-up sometimes, not always because I want to but because I think if I don’t I will be judged lesser. True, makeup is like painting, and that is a creative thing. However, it should be an individual’s decision to take up that creativity.

Okay, women got the vote 100 years ago. We are more liberated through education and careers, and a few women have cracked through glass ceilings to become CEOs and political leaders.

Still, aging is a key to marketing images that increase our insecurities about it, to us. We are slaves to needing to look like a youth, that is our past.

I stand before you a person, a woman, at 65, in an Art Gown who feels sensational! I didn’t think I could go through with it, but I’m glad I did. I thought about Photoshop airbrushing, but decided to be honest and just pick the best photos.

An established costume designer in film, television, and digital media, Resa McConaghy has worked on productions for Showtime, ABC, Disney, CBS, CBC, Hallmark, and more.

Her mission: to enable the articulation of character through wardrobe.

Take a look at Resa's other Art Gowns:

Read Elizabeth Gracen's interview with Resa McConaghy here.

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