One of the women I’d met at an art function a couple of years ago contacted me that she’d like to participate in this documentary project ‘Change’, about women entering peri- or full-on menopause and she proposed something that was a first for me: she asked if she could bring a girlfriend, a stranger I had yet to meet.
I welcomed the idea. After all, the aim of this project is to encourage conversation amongst as many women, non-binary or trans individuals who are experiencing this phase of their lives because they have a womb. My thought was if we could get as many people talking about it as possible, we can de-stigmatize our bodies and discussions around our reproductive health.
So, after having to shuffle around a few proposed dates, Anbrin and Meg finally arrive together at my door. Meg, a local artist, arrives with gifts in tow: she hands both Anbrin and myself one tiny, handmade heart each.
Anbrin, a self-described ‘neighbourhood animator‘, directly proceeds to pin her gift on what, she informs me, is a traditional ensemble she has chosen to wear for the shoot. An immigrant to Canada, Anbrin originally hails from Lahore, Pakistan. Her traditional outfit is as bright as her smiling eyes and infectious personality. She grew up the only girl in a family of boys and is now mother to three sons. I learn we are all mothers to sons, only; no daughters.
While we chat, I quickly ascertain why these two friends hit it off so well: they are ying and yang to one another; Meg, a bit reserved and contemplative while Anbrin giggles away, bubbly and animated. Anbrin met Meg while working on one of her community art projects. As Anbrin pins the heart she’s been given to her ensemble, I capture some solo portraits of Meg. I then invite both women for a few shots together and wrap up the session with solo shots of Anbrin. We then move to my kitchen for coffee and our chat.
Even more delightful than capturing two long-time friends together for this project with my camera was sharing a discussion amongst the three of us during the shoot and afterwards. Anbrin describes the three of us seated at my table as a ‘circle’ and our chat proves that bit livelier than the more intimate, one-on-one conversations I’m used to with previous participants. We have each so much to contribute about our individual experiences. Some attributes of them are recognizable — we’ve all shared them — while others prove unique to each of us and widen our collective knowledge about menopause. My portraits of Meg and Anbrin are below. Simply click on a photo to begin gallery view and, while browsing, feel free to listen in on part of our conversation here.
Again, I want to thank these two wonderful women for volunteering to come together for this project and granting me permission to share what was discussed here regarding what we’ve each experienced from menarche through to menopause. The aim of Change, and my larger umbrella documentary project, Womb, is to de-stigmatize what those of us with wombs go through related to our reproductive health, encourage open discussion, enhance education, and foster greater respect and understanding for ourselves and, of course, each other.
Interested in participating in Womb portrait project and/or this offshoot project, Change, on menopause? Feel free to reach out.