The Real Older Mom Behind New York Magazine’s Cover Photo

New York Magazine’s recent cover is causing a stir. And for good reason: it’s a Photoshop nightmare.

The cover article is on parents over 50 having children. But the famous Vanity Fair photo of Demi Moore pregnant features the head of a woman who looks at least 65. Yikes!

But isn’t it ironic?

The cover article is called “Parents of a Certain Age: Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant?”

Maybe New York Magazine should have directed that question to the woman who shot the original Demi Moore cover in 1991, portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz.

A Real 50-Plus Mom

Leibovitz had her first child at 51 and twins by a surrogate mother a few years later. The country’s most famous photographer, she is now a mom in her sixties with children in elementary school.

But she sure looks younger than the supposedly fifty-something woman on New York Magazine’s cover.

When I heard Annie Leibovitz speak a few years ago, she was thriving as a late-in-life mom. In an aside, she even noted that she got along surprisingly well with the younger mothers at the school. Family is clearly important to Leibovitz, even though she waited to start her own.

Then again, it’s probably good she didn’t have kids when she was hanging out with Mick, Keith and the rest of The Rolling Stones, right?

Let’s Do Better

Motherhood after 50 is a serious topic worth exploring. But let’s not caricature these moms and make them look older than they are. Shame on you New York Magazine for your distorted cover.

Real women are so much more interesting.

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Any thoughts on New York Magazine’s cover? On having kids after 50? Please comment here!

Want to learn more about Annie Leibovitz?

A Photographer’s Life: 1990-2005 includes her portraits of well-known figures such as Nicole Kidman and Nelson Mandela. Highly personal, the book also documents Leibovitz’s relationship with writer Susan Sontag and the photographer’s extended family. Leibovitz is even featured nude and pregnant at 51 in her own echo of the Demi Moore cover .

But, of course, the head and the body match.

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Photo of Leibovitz © Marc Silber/Silberstudios.com

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  • JenniferHull

    October 15, 2011 at 12:25 am
    Reply

    Oh, yes, Wendy - to have half of Annie Leibovitz's energy! I think she's a good example of why timing of children is such a […] Read MoreOh, yes, Wendy - to have half of Annie Leibovitz's energy! I think she's a good example of why timing of children is such a personal decision. Some women really do have what it takes to raise children in their 50s and 60s. I had my first at 40 and second at 42 and am managing fine. But ten years later would have been a big stretch for me. And Maggie, you got it just right. "Sensationalistic" is exactly what that cover photo was. Read Less

  • Wendy Hoffman

    October 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm
    Reply

    I admire Annie Lebowitz and other late-in-life moms. It takes guts and an extraordinary amount of energy to be a mom at this point life. […] Read MoreI admire Annie Lebowitz and other late-in-life moms. It takes guts and an extraordinary amount of energy to be a mom at this point life. I've never had children and sometimes regret that decision but honestly can't imagine doing it now. Read Less

  • Maggie

    October 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for giving the New York Magazine the thunk it deserves for the sensationalistic photo cover. I agree with Angel; while the overall conclusions […] Read MoreThanks for giving the New York Magazine the thunk it deserves for the sensationalistic photo cover. I agree with Angel; while the overall conclusions of the article were good, I suspect few people read past the parts that confirmed their own prejudices. Read Less

  • JenniferHull

    October 2, 2011 at 6:50 pm
    Reply

    Thanks for your comment Angel. And to others reading here, I highly recommend checking out Angel's critique on FlowerPowerMom.com: http://bit.ly/r9bMs3 Angel's critique is what got me […] Read MoreThanks for your comment Angel. And to others reading here, I highly recommend checking out Angel's critique on FlowerPowerMom.com: http://bit.ly/r9bMs3 Angel's critique is what got me thinking about this subject. The New York Magazine article is better than the pictures. The cover is horrible and there's not a smiling parent to be found in the family portraits featured with the text! They all look grim! I do think the article raises some good questions about having a child over 50. Too bad a photo is worth 1,000 words! Read Less

  • Angel La Liberte

    October 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm
    Reply

    Jennifer, Thanks for raising awareness of the ironic truth behind that story which was so intent on vilifying later life mothers with derogatory remarks. Despite the […] Read MoreJennifer, Thanks for raising awareness of the ironic truth behind that story which was so intent on vilifying later life mothers with derogatory remarks. Despite the fact that she spent the last 3rd of the article discussing the positives, the damage was done by part 1 and the shocking "photoshop nightmare" cover. (You gave it the perfect name.) For more a more detailed critique, http://bit.ly/r9bMs3. Hats off to Annie, who's a stunning later life mom! Read Less

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About Jennifer

A former journalist for The Wall Street Journal and Time, Jennifer is the award-winning author of Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life and pens the MidAge Mom blog.

She’s profiled exceptional women from the Middle East to Latin America. Widely published, her essays have been included in two anthologies.

Jennifer is also a frequent radio and TV guest. Full Bio

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In Beyond One, Jennifer chronicles her leap from one child to two, describing the enormous impact the second child has on a woman’s body, marriage, family life, friendships and work.

"Hull is the kind of woman many moms long to be friends with. . ." -The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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The Wall Street Journal, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, CNN.com, MS., Parenting, Real Simple, Salon.com, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Working Mother, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, American Way, Brain, Child, The Christian Science Monitor, and more.