A couple weeks ago, I became mesmerized with 42-year-old Jodi Lewchuk’s Instagram gallery, @whispered_words_: not just by her stunning body, but by the way she captured her particular brand of sexuality. It was clear, looking at her photos, that she was the embodiment of a strong, smart, powerful woman of a certain age. So I asked her if I could feature her work on my blog. Lucky for me — and for you — she said yes.
What prompted you to start your Instagram account?
I’ve been pairing images and words for awhile over at my first Instagram account, @jodilewchuk. I’m a career editor, but writing is my first love and true passion; it’s the way I’m most adept at expressing myself. Three years ago, when I was 39, my 12-year relationship ended, and after the initial shock wore off, I realized that there were many aspects of my personality that I had either toned down or turned off altogether over the course of those years with my ex.
It was liberating to become reacquainted with, and rediscover who I was. I had been a competitive sprinter in my younger years, and I took up distance running as a way to exercise my very energetic dog, who stayed with me in the split. Training for my first marathon, which I ran the year I turned 40, transformed my body and my mind, and I began writing about that experience.
The more I ran and the more I wrote, the more I realized that limitations are self-imposed and possible to transcend. I also gained a new confidence in the strength and beauty of my body, which sparked a reawakening and whole new perception of my sexuality. Being single, I felt I needed an outlet for exploring that part of myself, and @whispered_words_ was born. I see WW as a part of my evolution into an empowered “woman of a certain age” — one who is finally living fully, passionately, sensually, with the certainty that some of the best years are to come.
What has been the response to your Instagram account? Do your friends know?
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when posting to this Instagram account, and the positive and enthusiastic response has been really gratifying. It’s flattering when people are complimentary about the images, of course, but what’s really delighted me is the way the audience has embraced the accompanying words, and how they complement the way I photograph myself.
Instagram is a visual medium first and foremost, so I’m always grateful when people take the time to read my poetry and prose. And when it’s clear that the words have resonated very truly, it means the a lot to me. As for my friends, to date only a very few who know me in “real life” are aware of WW.
I wanted it to be a place where I could vision myself and write in a completely free and uncensored way, and so having a semblance of anonymity seemed the best approach. That said, the few who know me both personally and WW have been incredibly supportive of it as a personal and creative project. I don’t know that it will be an endeavour I share with everyone in my life, but I’m starting to feel more comfortable with being open about it in certain contexts and circumstances.
How do you feel when you see the photos? Has it changed the way you see yourself?
Sometimes I’m still surprised when I look at my photos — in a good way! It’s perhaps the first time in my life when I look at myself and believe what I see: that I’m strong, beautiful, and desirable. Naturally only the best shots make it into my Instagram gallery, the ones where the lighting, pose, and expression are just right. But it’s still me, un-Photoshopped in those images, and if running gave me a new sense of body confidence, Instagram has only deepened that confidence. Together, my images and words have let me depict outwardly what I’ve long felt inwardly, and they also let me push my boundaries and explore different parts of myself and my sexuality.
Describe your artistic process. How do you get the ideas for your shots? What’s the technical process? Do you write the poetry before or after you take the photos?
I find inspiration for my shots everywhere — in music, art, architecture, literature, and in my own fantasies and other Instagrammers’ work. I always have a notebook on me and will jot down ideas when they pop into my head. Sometimes the image will come first and I’ll craft words to match it, and other times I’ll have written a piece I really like and will then try to devise an image that interprets the words visually. Technically my setup is pretty simple: I shoot with my iPhone and a camera timer app. It’s got a 15-second delay, which gives me time to set up my phone on my tripod and then get into position. I often shoot during a nice window for afternoon light that I get in my condo, and I try not to edit my images too much. I use black-and-white filters, as I love the monochrome look for portraits, and I’ll fiddle a bit with brightness, contrast, and highlights, but that’s about it.
Describe your sense of your body and sexuality now, at 42, compared to when you were in your 20s and 30s.
At 42 my body is the strongest and most beautiful it’s ever been — something I never would have anticipated being able to say when I was in my 20s and 30s. Even though the signs of aging are there (there’s no avoiding wrinkles and a certain amount of sag at 42), I can ask my body to perform in ways that it couldn’t when I was younger, and it’s responded by rising to the occasion. The physical capability has become, I think, inextricably linked to my evolving sense of sexuality, which I’d say is becoming more potent, spirited, and adventurous as I age. The advantage of being older is having experience — with what I like and don’t like, with what works and doesn’t work, and, most important of all, with a very clear sense of what I want. I now know what I need to feel fulfilled, and it means being open to, and making different, and better, relationship choices than I did in the past.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Running has taught me that anything is possible. And that’s how I feel about my future. Where I am now is not where I imagined I’d be 10 years ago. But it’s a better place than where I was. I believe that I will attract the kind of energy that I am putting out into the world, and that means I see myself living with a partner that is as passionate for life and love that I am, doing work that is fulfilling and of service, being creative, and meeting life’s challenges with strength and grace. I’m open to adventure and look forward to where life’s road will lead.
For more of Jodi’s images, and to read her words, follow @whispered_words_ on Instagram.