Seeing Beauty in All: Over-40 Nudes

Elderly couple on beach

By Sharon Haywood

In the summer of 2010 photographer Keith Seat gave life to the project “Seeing Beauty in All: Over-40 Nudes” based out of Washington, DC. He has compiled a wonderful array of black-and-white photos, using non-professional models over the age of 4o. (The oldest models to date are in their mid-70s). He explains his motivations:

My Over-40 Nudes project seeks to expand conventional concepts of physical beauty beyond people with bodies that are youthful and conventionally near perfect. I believe we can enhance that definition by seeing older bodies – complete with imperfections and evidence of aging – as beautiful because they have been lived in and have experienced life with all its joys and sorrows.

Earth-MotherMy goal is to help us reclaim our bodies – to see ourselves in our fullness, to expand our view of beauty to the reality around us, and to appreciate the glory of bodies that have fully lived.

His commitment to producing images that celebrate diversity is also reflected in his approach when working with the models:

Kennitta -- Dramatic Hand-1






My interactions with the people I am photographing goes well beyond the basics of the environment and poses, to help them feel relaxed and un-self-conscious, and to discussions of their perceptions of their bodies and the experience of being seen and seen as beautiful. This causes many participants to feel more self-acceptance and satisfaction with their bodies, and sometimes even a deep sense of healing.

lesbian couple

We are thrilled with the level of diversity, not only with size and body type, but also with the varied representation of models of different races and sexual orientations. And that’s not the only reason we’re happy to highlight his work. Additionally, Seat states that he is “not about significant retouching or ‘photoshopping.’ Instead, my project celebrates the beauty that is actually present in over-40 nudes.”

coupleBecause Seat does not use professional models, he invites women and men over the age of 40 in the Washington, D.C. area to participate in this ongoing project, which he also hopes to publish as a book.

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For additional information about this wonderful exhibit, visit his website at and check out his Facebook page here.


Related content:

The Lowdown on Aging

The Old and Tired

View Your Body As If You Were 80

Face It! – What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change, The Book

Huff Post Highlights Beautiful Older Women

Cougars: Unfortunately Coming to a Town Near You

Older Leading Ladies and the Evolution of Hollywood

9 thoughts on “Seeing Beauty in All: Over-40 Nudes

  1. I very much appreciate the good article and thoughtful comments. It does take ongoing awareness to push back against society’s pressures to conform as to what Beauty is and what decency or propriety is. I certainly feel it myself when other tasks pull me away from my Over-40 Nudes project for a while; I feel the gravitational pull of convention trying to suck me back to the safe but boring and lifeless center.

  2. I was delighted to see people not only over 40 years of age, but over 200 pounds. I am a big fan of the human form in all its glorious “imperfections.”

  3. It is wonderful to break down barriers and the more this happens the more comfortable & accustomed people will be to diversity in bodies.

    I advocate for this. I believe in this and yet I still have my first knee-jerk reaction of being uncomfortable with this shots, i.e., is it beautiful or something we should hide? I know I’m wrong btw.

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