Blooming Brightly | Denise Boomkems
“With our photography we want to show that fashion is ageless, beauty is ageless.”
Tell us about &bloom
&BLOOM is an online platform for fierce women over 40 who live life fully and are proud and happy to be ageing gracefully.
We are a digital place for fashion and beauty inspiration and recognition: we are modern feminists with a touch of humor because we think that “women over 40” rock and we should all be proud of our age no matter what our youth-fixated culture thinks!
The focus of &Bloom is on positive, beautiful and (here and there with a little help ;)) natural ageing. We are based in Amsterdam the Netherlands but the contributors are women from all over the world.
The &BLOOM Instagram is mainly about the photography of mostly real women over 40, 50, 60, 70 and sometimes models but also “of a certain age”. With our photography we want to show that fashion is ageless, beauty is ageless.
The pictures are shot in a professional studio by me, a professional photographer. I never retouch my pictures, I only add contrast and work on the colors of the images. Wrinkles or other imperfections are absolutely never touched.
Soon we will start with a series of beauty and make-up vlog tutorials for women over 40 done by Esther van Maanen whom I often work with. In a little while, we’ll start a series of fashion vlog tutorials for women over 40 by a professional stylist.
What inspired you to create &bloom?
Working in fashion as a model (when I was 16 till 30) and later one in life as a fashion/beauty photographer made me realize how focused we are on youth and what the media thinks is perfection (fake or real). For the past years, growing older myself and becoming a mother, it got to me more and more that women by the end of their 30’s are starting to think of themselves as old.
Fashion models starting botox and fillers when they are in their 20’s (sometimes even younger) to “prevent” wrinkles. And the shredded self-image of women as they get older made me think and worry. There must be a way how I can show women that getting older, ageing, becoming of older age is a natural but beautiful process and that real beauty has nothing to do with age, I thought to myself.
I had the idea of &BLOOM already for a few years but the time wasn’t right. After having my son with 40 and seeing myself visibly ageing after being pregnant and not sleeping through the night for a year. I caught myself that I became critical of my appearance, I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror, I started to get fine lines, I started to get grey hair. Something that had always “annoyed” me in other women and I was now doing to myself.
What have you learned the hard way in life?
I have learned the hard way in life that becoming a mother or “having children” is not a matter of course like many people think. I suffer from a severe stage of Endometriosis and it took me a very, very, very long time to finally get pregnant and the fact that it even happened is a miracle on its own.
If it was for me I would have had 3 children but I am so very thankful for my son! I am an absolute fighter, I fight and I fight and I succeed. But in this case…
What piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I would tell myself to be less quick-tempered, more smart about things, more patient and to believe in myself much more.
I was insecure and slightly introvert when I was a young girl, becoming a model was a bit of a contrast to my character but I wanted to be a model so bad that I acted my way into it. And it actually changed my personality into a much more open person.
What would you tell your future self if you wrote a letter to her now?
I would tell my future self that I can be proud of what I did in my life. I have always had a sense of proof, the urge to prove that I was good at something or that I did well. I would tell myself to pad myself on the shoulder, to lean back and relax.
What books are on your bedside table?
Right now there is hardly any time for reading and I love to read! When my son is off to bed I am exhausted… I often have a small thing to do behind my computer and then I am off to bed myself. On top of my wish list to read as soon as I have time: Blue Nights by Joan Didion and Siddharta by Hermann Hesse.
What is your idea of beauty?
I have seen so many beautiful women and men in my life. During the 12 years, I worked as a model around the world and during the 12 years as a photographer even more!!!
But one thing I know for sure, yes it’s a cliche, beauty comes from within. A girl or boy could be stunningly beautiful but with a bad personality become straight away very unattractive. When you get older that personality becomes more and more important. A beautiful person within is a beautiful person on the outside.
It’s cold and rainy and you’re home alone – how do you spend your day?
I would LOVE to spend a whole day home alone!!!! 😉 I would most probably sleep in all morning, take a hot bath, play music really loud and sing with my favorite songs. Read a book, yes, I would read a good book and paint my toenails. Stuff I don’t get to do so often anymore these days.
Who would you most like to receive a postcard from?
I would like to receive a postcard from the very first roommate I had in Paris, Paola. She was a beautiful Brazilian model who suffered from Anorexia. We lived together for a year, I must have been 19 or something. We lost contact, I know she went back to Brazil and we spoke on the phone a few times. I would love to know what became of her. We’re talking 25 years ago!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?
I have an older friend, she is 12 years older than I am, told me a few years ago when I complained to her about my ageing appearance that it would make my life much easier to love myself just the way I am (because you’re beautiful). Her word also contributed to the concept of &BLOOM, she was right.
One thing I care less about as I grow older is…
I could make you a looong list of things! 😉 It’s probably the combination of growing older and becoming a mother. Priorities shift and things that once seemed important are no longer important anymore. I became much more assertive and less shy. I know who I am today and what I am capable of many insecurities are gone.
One thing I care more about as I grow older is…
I care more about real life, life as it really is. My son, my husband, our health, the house we live in, the flowers in our garden. Peace of mind is something I care about more, knowing what you want and the wisdom to let go of things that are no longer appreciated.
At the end of the day…
At the end of the day I am tired…. 🙂 No just joking. Cliches are great, aren’t they? When you are younger and someone tells you that you should be happy because “you’re healthy” you just shrugged your shoulders. Nowadays you know that person was right, health is the only important thing next to plain happiness, no matter in what sense.
At the end of the day, I am happy that I and the people I love are healthy and happy.