amanda + karen
Amanda, 30 (daughter) + Karen, 59 (mother)

“First, the reason I was interested in the “For Real” campaign was twofold: 1) kind of to prove to myself that getting old can be beautiful in it’s own right and 2) to celebrate the long road that my daughter and I have travelled together in this life – which has not been glamorous and has been at times very very raw and real. Life or death real.

I normally hate being in front of the camera. But I have, in my lifetime, survived so many things that I hate so much more. Such as having a beautiful daughter develop serious mental illness and battle alcohol and drug addiction for the past 15 years. I wanted to celebrate that we always had a connection – even when she was actively addicted and on the streets. Sometimes when I talk to other parents – I say that what sustained me for many years was the idea that “as long as she is breathing, there is hope”. I came to believe in faith, hope and love over everything – and this photo shoot was a testament to that. I regularly attended Alanon meetings for my own sanity and to help myself develop the boundaries that are so needed with an addict. My daughter has been at death’s door so many times in her young life that I just wanted to celebrate that she is alive – and that she is beautiful “for real”, too.

I often feel that without makeup I look perpetually exhausted (thank you life, allergies). But I think there is some kind of beauty even in exhaustion and I wanted to honor that. So when you asked for volunteers for a photo shoot without makeup and minimal “styling” I could not think of a better way to honor the roads I’ve traveled and honor that my daughter is, indeed, still breathing.

I take my life day by day and I work hard to find the good, the wisdom in everything that happens to me – including the mistakes I have made myself. It felt like a “for real” photo shoot was an opportunity to continue to explore and work on that skill.”