Family

8 striking nude photos of people over the age of 60.

WARNING: You might catch the epidemic of self-love if you read on.

You might have seen this powerful image from Tucson photographer Jade Beall circulating the web.

This is Gerry and Darwin, and they're fierce. It's a beautiful image. And there are a lot of folks online who agree. All photos by Jade Beall Photography, used with permission.


If you love this photo, it isn't just you — it's garnered over 35,000 Likes on Facebook alone!

Jade has already made some online waves with her viral images celebrating the female body post-childbirth, a photo series called "A Beautiful Body Project." But after her successful Kickstarter and book, "The Bodies of Mothers," she sent a survey to her followers, asking: "What do you want to see next?"

The overwhelming response: elder bodies.

So Jade began a quest to find subjects. At first, it was difficult because most of her elder subjects were hesitant to share their images online. But then Jade thought of her friends Gerry and Darwin ... and they were totally game!

Gerry and Darwin, just being great.

Preparing for the shoot, Jade told Upworthy, "I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I just wanted a really simple embrace."

Jade wanted to capture a simple embrace, but what she got was, well, a little bit of a revolution!

"They started kissing at one point [and] I was just like, 'Damn!' So juicy and so real. I had to stop at one point. I had to stop at one point because mascara was running in my eyes," Jade said.

"My wish is for an epidemic of self-love."

Jade's larger mission as a photographer is to show images that are so real, beautiful, and moving that they crack open our human hearts and leave a permanent crack in the idea that there's only one standard for beauty.

"All my life I've been hyper-aware that my physical body dominates people's perception of me, and that's always felt really awful," she said. "When I look at magazines, I think, 'Well they're beautiful.' But it just makes me feel so ... unseen."

Oh gosh, you guys! Your PDA is giving me LIFE!

"I craved images that were beautiful and diverse and celebrated things that we think need to be Photoshopped away," Jade said.

I'd say she's satisfying her craving, don't you think? And she's changing minds one beautiful viral photo at a time!

Since posting that first photo on social media, Jade has been inundated with emails from people over 60 requesting to have their pictures taken — and shared online.

Here are some of her other recent photos from the series:

Deane and Barbara, being adorable and happy ... and now I'm happy.

"As soon as somebody opens the door, it allows permission for others to realize maybe it's not so scary — maybe it's incredibly healing for themselves, and maybe they could affect thousands of other people," Jade said.

She has even noticed younger folks in the comments sharing a sense of celebration, support, and also ... relief.

"Young people are saying things like, 'Maybe it's gonna be OK and we don't have to be afraid and ashamed of growing older.'"

Three generations of ladies! How cool is that?

Jade's wish for the world is pretty noble: unwavering self-love.

"I find that when I can love myself unwaveringly — just feel at peace in my body — it allows me to connect on deeper level with my other humans. To see their beauty deeply inside and their perfection on the outside, and not what I've been trained to see, which is a one-body-type, one-skin-type definition of beauty," she said.

"My wish would be for an epidemic of self-love! I see the ripple effect. When I photograph people and they start loving themselves a little bit more, I see their lives get better."

No wonder Jade got teary-eyed!

"I see [people] become better parents, better spouses" when they love themselves, Jade said.

"I see them walking taller. I see more peace in their lives. Less judgment, less conflict. So that would be my wish. "

Me too.

Three generations celebrating each other and themselves. Paging me and my emotions: Your table is ready!

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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