Dating a younger man helped me get past my body image and aging issues.
I managed a sickly smile or two, but couldn't help wondering what he saw under those bright lights without the scrim of passion obscuring his vision. I had never worried what he saw when we were in bed together. Looking into Sweetie's eyes during sex, I'd never seen any revulsion, and I didn't see anything negative in his gaze now. But lying there alone as he viewed me from behind the lens of the camera, I no longer felt like his lover, but rather like an object to be scrutinized—a flawed object.
When he finished, I wrapped a sheet around myself and went to the computer to download the photos. The first one was a surprise: Sweetie with his arm around my cat. I had no idea when he had surreptitiously taken that shot, and I started laughing. He said that he wanted the first photo I saw to make me happy.
Certainly the next photo (me naked) didn't. I deleted the picture, and kept deleting, ignoring Sweetie's pleas for me to stop. I saved only a few I thought I could work with.
In the end, I don't know what he "saw." I never asked. Maybe he didn't see my age-related flaws; maybe he saw them and didn't care; maybe he saw no flaws at all.
But I know two things.
One: Like many women, I've always been hyper-critical of my body, even in my 20s when I was model thin, and any signs of aging were years away. Back then, I thought my thighs were fat. Twenty years and 30 pounds later, I'm actually more accepting of my body—just not when I'm posing for naked photos!
Two: My age is not an issue for Sweetie. He tells me I'm beautiful, and this morning we had sex with the sunlight filtering through the sheer drapes. Our eyes were open nearly the whole time, and I saw what I always see in his eyes: appreciation, affection, passion and joy. I know he saw the same in mine, and again I started to feel that neither my age nor his matters.