In early 2021, I approached Desiree Marsh, the activities director of The Leach Home in Wahpeton, if she thought doing some formal portraits would be of interest to anyone. She was enthusiastic! My grandmother spent her last years in this Home, and my mom and I were so glad to see the levels of care, kindness, and understanding the staff had always projected. We scheduled for April 12th, and I got to work doing some research, practice, and garnering extra props to offer my models, and two friends volunteered for hair and makeup.
Desiree got the Wahpeton Daily News interested and involved enough to do a bit in the local paper:
Wahpeton Daily News
(I'm not pictured in the paper article.)
This project idea formed when I came across article after article about senior citizens in group home care, and how none of them had an "appealing" representation of the residents in the various homes, or just in general. This project is meant to challenge biased schools of thought and negative connotations that disadvantaged groups of people face and are thought of as. This isn't only for our aging members, but any marginalized individuals that have faced documented adversity. I hope that these photos reach the right people in the right places, to start a movement towards increased legislation to protect groups of individuals that are more prone to being taken advantage of, abused, and forgotten, and ultimately increase available funding to improve their quality of life.
Body positivity, in my opinion, isn't only about women embracing their bodies after children, after a certain age, or if they don't fit the mold of beauty by the media standards we've grown up to believe. Body positivity includes embracing those with physical differences, disabilities, and aging as well. It's for every body. We all get old, and we all see our own perceived flaws and imperfections at some point... but when was the last time you could look at yourself in a photograph and see all of the wonderful things about yourself?
On the photoshoot day, I showed myself and those who supported me and cheered me on, exactly what I had hoped to show the world- and so much more. I received so many hugs, which was incredible because it was still a pandemic, and the home had only recently allowed visitors again. I cried, twice at least, because of the absolute gratitude I was receiving from my models, the staff, and the overall air of happiness, playfulness, and ease. It was everything I knew it could be, and the effect it had on the model's families hasn't been lost on me, either.
I want to continue giving this gift to so many more deserving residents-many of whom are forgotten about outside of their dwellings. They have so many stories to tell, and I want to share them with you, too. I do this as much for myself as I do for others.
Currently, I am compiling a list of senior group homes looking to do their Resplendent Residents photoshoot.
This project has been funded entirely by myself and generous donations, but I am always appreciative of monetary or accessory donations to help defray the cost of my time, fuel, equipment, and everything that contributes to this pursuit.
I do not charge anyone for these photoshoots, because I DO NOT want any expense to be forwarded to the residents. Many are not financially able to afford more than what they have, don't have support from family, or are wards of the state. They are deserving of these acts of kindness to give them something in return for their contributions to our communities.
I am looking for:
Men's hats- any style, but think vintages such as bowler, fedora(including stingy brim), boater, Panama, and porkpie (1920s-1950s)
Men's accessories- straight and bowties, clip-on or not, bolo ties, suspenders, belts, cufflinks, pocket squares, cologne
Men's dress attire- suit jackets, two or three-piece suits, vests, formal button-ups or downs, dress shoes
Women's hats- any style, but think antique- especially wide brim, cloche, mushroom, fedora, and bowler styles (1920s-1950s)
Women's accessories- broaches, hair clips, hatpins, necklaces and bracelets, hair scarves, shawls, perfume
Women's dress attire- jacket or blazer, two-piece dress or pantsuit, low heel or flat dress shoes
Hair and makeup artists volunteer their time and supplies. This *may* also include any who want to offer pampering such as gentle shoulder massage or nail painting, and general assistance.
Financial contributions can be made through various electronic payment sources, and are also available through the donations button on this page.
Click the button to donate funds towards the Resplendent Residents project.
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