When I came across the Instagram account of &Bloom, I have immediately fallen in love with its aesthetic and the powerful and empowering message! &Bloom is an amazing online hub for women over 40 who enjoy life to the fullest and embrace all its beauty with style and humor. The Bloomers, as they are called, are absolutely gorgeous women who make aging an amazing and positive journey, as it should be!
The platform bursts with positivity, inspiration and empowerment and it made me want to see who is behind this great idea! They are a group of “colorful female writers and creatives” as they describe themselves and it was founded by Denise Boomkens. Excited to meet her, I dropped her a line and I was thrilled to receive an immediate reply from her and discover a warm, open, brave and amazing woman, truly inspiring!
I am happy to introduce you to Dee and learn more about &Bloom in the following exclusive interview.
Lara: Congratulations on the amazing platform &Bloom! You are doing a wonderful work in inspiring women all over the world! What inspired you to create this?
Dee: My inspiration to start & Bloom arose from a growing awareness that the media is fully focused on youth and young people. I’ve always known this, as an ex-model and fashion photographer. As I grew older myself, as for the women close around me, I slowly started to get annoyed by the image that is made for the aging woman and to see how the women around me react on their aging appearance. They are all insecure about something instead of being proud of who they are and what they have accomplished by the time they reach 40.
The anti-age policy for example, where wrinkles, aging are almost depicted as a “disaster”. This while we are all getting old and getting wrinkles (if you are so lucky to grow old….you can also get sick and die)… I want to embrace my age, and I want to do this together with the beautiful women around me. I see so many beautiful older women around me, whom I want to capture and share with the world to show that aging is very natural and beautiful, with wrinkles, grey hair and saggy skin. For my &Bloom portraits I use beauty light and I work with a hair and make-up artist and stylist. I want the women to look as beautfiul as they can.
To be clear on something, I am not against the beauty industry. I use good facial creams, I have a great beauty therapist where I do my facials and I will most probably try botox or fillers one day (soon…) and have an eyelid correction, just like my mother had when she was my age. But I also wear nice clothes, have a haircut, go to the dentist, I do everything to look my best because I like to be a nice looking woman. It’s another story when you want to be something else then that you are and try to erase a big part of yourself because you are unhappy with the way you look or feel.
Lara: You teamed up with some amazing creatives! What brought you all together?
Dee: My creatives are all other women that are aware of the same aging problem in our culture. We are all over 40 and we are happy with who we are and what we do. Most creatives I already knew from before starting &Bloom, others have approached me to work together and I also approach women of course. My dream is to make a big community full of grey haired sheroes! 😉
Lara: Do you feel that the media is changing its perspective towards women over 40 or that in fact daring and brave women as yourself have the biggest role in empowering women through their platforms, blogs, hubs and movements?
Dee: I think there is some change in the media but in my opinion not enough change or not fast enough. There are still 30 year old models advertising for anti-aging cream. But the fact that more and more women are strong enough to be out in the open with their thoughts and life’s on blogs, platforms, social media, is a great change. I hope it will change more and much faster, for the younger generation. They grow up with the idea that wrinkles are bad and you have to start botox as early as possible to prevent them… this worries me a lot. Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram also normal women get voices.
Lara: What do you think about empowerment and women’s role today?
Dee: I love the women empowerment movements, like on Instagram. We should empower each other. Is it so hard to make a compliment to another woman? I guess it is for some but I know many women that lift you up while you speak to them. I like to be that woman on my &Bloom account that lifts up women with my pictures and stories. All women are beautiful, just the way they are. I never really understood Facebook for example, I shared my part but also found it very personal to share parts of your life with the whole world with no reason. I have changed my perspective since I started &Bloom. Social media is great if you have a purpose, to reach out and share your case.
Lara: What would you say now to the 20-year-old YOU?
Dee: Take it easy girly, you had a rough start, breath in and out, rethink your decisions a little longer before you jump into another adventure, don’t follow someone else’s dream, you are strong, you don’t need anybody else to tell you what to do, you are beautiful, special and I love you!!!
Lara: What are your future plans?
Dee: My dream is to continue to follow my heart like I did recently. I’ve always worked really well as a fashion photographer but that’s not where my heart is. I decided the beginning of this year to end my career as a fashion photographer and go solo on the portraits. I am a strong believer of doors that close other doors will open. So I hope that I can soon earn an income with &Bloom and keep empowering women.
Lara: If you could have dinner with anyone in this world – dead or alive, famous or not – who would you choose?
Dee: The first woman that comes to my mind is Frida Kahlo! I’ve always been a big fan. She was strong a woman, an expressive artist. For her time she was super progressive and a feminist. She followed her heart after her big accident and became a great artist. I love her work.
Thank you so much for this amazing interview and your inspiration! I have to admit that aging doesn’t seem so scary anymore and because of &Bloom and daring and inspirational women like Dee, the perspectives are changing and you can start enjoying life and doing the things you love, getting on board projects that inspire you and help you grow, without the constant reminder that the clock is ticking and as a woman you are not appealing after a certain age, as the media has implemented for years. Not anymore! Now it is time to BLOOM!