'I've Created a Beautiful Life Because of My Resilience'
Celebrating women over a certain age shouldn’t be a crazy idea. And we don’t want it to be. But with women over the age of 50 still being largely invisible in the media, (let alone seen dancing in lingerie) Knix decided to put out a casting call with only one rule: You must be 50 or older to apply.
The response was overwhelming, with over 500 submissions by women from all walks of life who spanned decades in age. Through the audition process we laughed, cried, danced and shared stories of resilience and celebration.
From this process, we met Colleen Strong— who describes herself as a fearless Harley-riding Grandma. In 2012, Colleen was diagnosed with breast cancer after receiving her first mammogram after turning 50, and soon after had a double mastectomy. We were absolutely honored that she would share her story with us, and bare all for the Age Doesn’t Matter Campaign. We caught up with Colleen on set where we chatted about her inspiration for joining the project, her tattoos, and what it means to feel beautiful.
What inspired you to audition for this video?
My daughter sent me the casting call and said “Mom, I think you should do this”! So on a whim, I filled out the application and didn’t think I’d get called at all. And then I got called back, and I was like— uh oh. I actually started to talk myself out of it! But then I caught myself and went— this is awesome. I know it’s scary, but if your daughter believes in you, you should believe in you. You should do this.
Now that I’m here, it’s awesome. It’s so much fun. There’s so much going on, so many moving parts and pieces that fascinate me. But the women are amazing, and the products are amazing. I thought I would be way more nervous than I am, but now that I’m here I’m really enjoying it!
Why was being part of this campaign important to you?
In the campaign, I showed my mastectomy tattoo and that breast is coming off again— so it’s going to be flat on that side. I was just saying to someone how special today was and that I was able to get a professional photograph before I lose that breast again. Today I was just being in the moment and just having fun and enjoying it and loving it, but that’s kind of in the back of my mind like— this is it.
I didn’t tell anybody and I didn’t want to ruin the atmosphere because it’s so positive and I felt good all day and I was happy. I just wanted to be happy today. I was happy! It was awesome. To be able to do that shot and feel so strong and empowered and beautiful, I need that right now. So this was such a gift.
Can you tell us about your tattoos?
I got my leg tattoo first after I had a double mastectomy and I felt like they’d sewn my head on someone else’s body— I felt very alien. And so it’s an alien woman, but she has wings. It’s a way to try and reclaim my body again.
My post-mastectomy tattoo on my right breast is something that is really special to me. It’s a cardinal. My family thinks when they’ve seen a cardinal that it’s someone who passed. So [the tattoo represents] people who have loved me who are gone.
It makes me feel beautiful every morning when I get up to see something beautiful instead of scars. I’m excited to share that and show other women who have had a mastectomy that they can still feel good about their body, and they can look in the mirror and have that experience of still feeling like a woman, and still feel beautiful.
We’d love for you to brag about yourself. What’s your favorite quality?
The thing I love most about myself is my resilience. I’ve been through a lot and have had a lot of curve balls thrown at me. I always pick myself up and learn how to navigate it so I’m in a better place than I was before. I think that’s an awesome quality to have, and I’ve created a beautiful life because of it.
You can follow along with Colleen here! We’re celebrating International Women’s Day all month long. Follow along here, @Knixwear and on Youtube for more behind the scenes and interviews with all the amazing women in the campaign.
Photo Credit 📷: Sise Drummond