Effects of divorce on women

Sunrise Session:

We will provide recently divorced women with a charitable portrait session, also known as a Sunrise Session. Not just a basic portrait session, but an all-day event with professional hair and make-up (and mimosas?).  Then, they will be guided through a transformative portrait session giving them the opportunity to feel beautiful and strong. We hope these photos reflect their emotions and dreams.  These women will get a chance to free themselves, fulfill their aspirations and be portrayed in a strong and dignified manner.

Why A Sunrise Session?

Divorced women must either leave their home or stay in a home that is forever changed by divorce. Either way, all of their photographs and memories represent a family that is no longer intact, represent memories that often carry with them significant feelings of pain, and represent a self-image these women no longer recognize. Being surrounded by such images, or bare walls in the case of a new home, can cause women to feel extremely isolated. That is why gaining access to a camera, during the photography part of the Sunrise Session, gives women a way to express their new selves freely and to create new and happy memories. Many studies have shown the power of photography as a therapeutic outlet and a proven counseling technique to overcome social isolation.

During the Sunrise Session, the women are able to create images that define their post-divorce selves. They can celebrate new beginnings. They will get portraits for their new home or to put up in their old home, making it new for themselves and their children. They will also be given digital images that they can use on dating sites and on other forms of social media, helping them feel beautiful, strong and empowered to enter new relationships.  Also, many of these women have to relocate and find new work or simply return to the workforce after raising their children and choose to do so by starting their own business. These days, every business must have a website and the photographs they receive from their Sunshine Session can be used as headshots for their websites.


Effects of Divorce on Women

While there are thousands of articles about the psychological effects of divorce on children, in our opinion there has not been enough attention to the psychological effects of divorce on women. What we have found is that the research and studies that have been completed provide the following information:

A divorce is considered a major life transition that has far-reaching social, pathological, legal, personal, and economic consequences.  American society may have erased the stigma that once accompanied divorce, but women going through divorce still perceive it as a personal failure, as an embarrassing occurrence, as something to be ashamed of.  This launches them into periods of insecurity and depression. However, the effects of divorce are largely ignored and resources to aid women post divorce are limited. 

Studies have shown that moving on following divorce is much harder for women then for men. Unlike a spouse dying and becoming a widow, post-divorce, women must often remain connected to their spouse via a custody share, child support, alimony, etc. How do you get closure when contact and/or financial dependency must continue? Lack of closure can lead to a never ending grieving period, which may lead to bad habits, having to be placed on medication or go through years of expensive therapy.

Furthermore, divorce dampens a women’s self esteem and divorced women reportedly undergo a significant amount of strain, with anxiety and decline in physical health resulting in increased medical issues, isolation, and depression.

 Anxiety can arise surrounding several life changes that may occur following divorce. A woman might have to abruptly move into a new home, or be left alone in the marital home. Furthermore, she may have to return to the work force after years of taking care of children, but do so at a level of income that reflects her years of experience even though there may have been a lapse of employment. As a result, she may need to survive on less money. All of these changes, and more, can be overwhelming and result in severe anxiety.

Divorce can also cause negative physical and medical implications for women. We all know that divorce causes a great deal of stress, but what most are unaware of is that women are affected much more then men. Women often take bigger hits in terms of finances, and tend to stay single longer than men.  Studies have shown that as a result of the increased levels of stress, women who are divorced are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions – high blood pressure, high blood glucose, excess belly fat and abnormal cholesterol and/or triglycerides – that occur together and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes) than women who are in a happy marriage.  A study published in the journal of Marriage and Family, found that divorced women are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease after going through divorce. Our research shows that chronic stress contributes to cardiovascular disease by exposing the body to unhealthy, persistently elevated levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. There have also been studies linking stress to changes in the way blood clots, increasing the risk of a heart attack. Lastly, stress often affects behaviors and choices we make that increase the risk of heart disease, such as smoking, physical inactivity, and overeating. Also, It can be hard for a newly single women to eat well, exercise regularly, and sleep well, leading many divorced women to experience insomnia and fluctuations in weight.. These newly developed unhealthy habits can lead to serious disease and chronic health conditions.

By far what seems to be the greatest impact on women of divorce are the feelings of insecurity, loss of a sense of identity and low self-esteem. Some women experience feelings of rejection and embarrassment and may withdraw from their social group. They might also find it difficult to discuss their feelings and insecurities with close friends and family. There is a great risk that a recently divorced woman will lose social support from friends and even family that do not approve of the divorce. This loss often increases feelings of isolation and alienation.

Lastly, the severe stress of divorce can lead to depression characterized by feelings of sadness, futility, worthlessness and withdrawal from others. Some of the symptoms of depression are: persistent feelings of sadness and unhappiness, loss of interest in and enjoyment of activities, lack of energy or fatigue, changes in appetite (loss or overeating), disordered sleep, and physical symptoms. 

Keys to regaining happiness and confidence:

Studies show that in order to bounce back following divorce it is essential to make a mental shift from victim to survivor. It is recommended to examine your feelings in a therapeutic setting, spend time with women who are upbeat, and make a deliberate mind shift deciding to move forward with strength and optimism. 

It is shown that following a divorce, women must focus on their future and commit to build a relationship with themselves.  Many women lose themselves in marriage because their identity becomes tied to being a wife or mother, leaving them unsure of who they are following the divorce.  As a result, this loss of self identity can be a real moment of crisis.

Studies have shown that in order for a woman to gain back her self-esteem she can make small changes to her appearance and surroundings. She can cut and color her hair the way she wants, get rid of her bedroom set, give away photos that cause feelings of negativity to those that might appreciate them – children, family, etc. Furthermore, she can rearrange the house, closet, and even herself, to suit herself. All of these actions can be extremely emotionally freeing for a women. The idea behind these actions is choosing a path to finding yourself and being at peace with yourself.

Divorce is a pivotal moment in life. It is a golden opportunity to write a new, brighter biography for the next chapter of your life. 

Opportunity for Growth, Independence and Maturity – Post-Divorce

At Sunset 2 Sunrise we want to be a catalyst of change for recently divorced women suffering any negative effects of divorce. These women have suffered so much loss: the loss of a marriage, the loss of a spouse, the loss of a “home”, the loss of seeing their children every day, the loss of identity, the loss of friendships, the loss of their standard of living, etc…

We want to be the first of many steps in ending their suffering and loss. We want to give them something. We are moving them from Sunset 2 Sunrise through a Sunrise Session.

A Sunrise session is an empowering photo shoot for the women, preceded by a full makeover including hair and makeup. This photo session and make over will provide the perfect opportunity for each woman to grow, gain back her self-esteem, and hopefully advance towards a more positive future.

Why A Photo Session?

Numerous studies have shown that photos can play an important role in a family’s life, whether they are placed on the wall, hidden in albums, or shared on social media. But once the couple gets a divorce, all of these family photos can cause the women to feel sorry for themselves, cause anger, depression, rage, and a slew of other negative emotions.  Many times we hear about women ripping the photos from the wall, burning the family photos, throwing them out, or giving them away.

Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum, the women that believe that it is important to remember that the pictures are mementos of good times and just decide to pack them up and store them under the bed or somewhere safe. They put on some red heels and meet up with friends. Some have divorce parties to celebrate this new beginning. It is important to remember that even these women are starting over.  Even these women are going through the stages of grief and need to make new memories. For these women a Sunrise Session is the beginning of those new memories, a token of what is to come filled with a new look, an empowered attitude and a readiness to enter new relationships and a different life.

A picture is worth a thousand words. While stark walls can be depressing, these women have a clean slate to work with, which can be very empowering. Sunset 2 Sunrise will provide the open space for these women to be their real, raw selves in front of the camera. The Sunrise Session will strengthen the woman’s ability to let go, to embrace her new self, to challenge her self to change her mindset toward positivity, and to love her self for who she is right now, as well as who she wants to become.

There is a form of therapy gaining traction referred to as Therapeutic Photography. Therapeutic Photography techniques and practices are done by people who are not necessarily trained therapists. It involves using photo interactive activities to increase one’s own self-knowledge, awareness, and well-being, improve relationships with family and others, activate positive social change, reduce isolation, and produce other photo based emotional healing and learning. Photography taps into your heart; psychology is one of the most intricate parts of photography.  Photography can not only change the way how people feel about themselves, even if just for a moment, but photography can also bring about change.

The Sunrise Session is a celebration of being a woman, having goals, desires, dreams and independence. And we can’t forget sex appeal! These women can reveal their true essence, their style, step out of their comfort zone, and wave their insecurities good-bye. They can hang a picture on their wall as a daily reminder of their strength, they can chose to focus on just themselves, include their children to show cause their new start, or both, and they can use the digital image they receive on dating sites, business websites, or in any manner they choose, fueling their recovery and flair for their new life!

Why makeovers – makeup & hair:

Many studies have shown that the physical appearance of people, especially women, including the way they dress, how well groomed they are, the quality of their skin, their hair, makeup, etc…affects their self esteem, how they position themselves, and how they feel about themselves and life in general.

A recent study at Yale reveals that bad hair days are real! According to the study, directed by Dr. Marianne LaFrance, Bad Hair Days affect individual’s self-esteem increasing self-doubt, intensifying insecurities, and causing the individual to become more self-critical in general. Most interesting, is that individuals perceive their capabilities to be significantly lower than others when they experience bad hair.

A person with positive self-esteem is said to be an individual who is optimistic that he or she is on top of things. The individual’s dissatisfaction with his or her appearance can reduce self-esteem and cause social insecurity.   The study goes on to describe how the role that hair plays in an individual’s self-image stretches to ancient history. Hair is considered the most important feature in terms of first impression. A combination of a woman’s hair and makeup can make her feel in control and in charge, in terms of the appearance of being well managed and powerful.

To women, makeup and hair can often be the fundamental means of self-expression, a glimpse into the women’s true identity. Psychology Today explains that the beauty premium is a well established social psychological phenomenon. A new study conducted by Harvard medical school suggests that makeup can help promote your image as a person who is competent, likable, attractive and trustworthy. Your self portrait represents what makes you unique, and that is why a Sunrise Session, including hair, makeup, and an empowering photo session can be very emotional, as the entire experience is intrinsically tied to the subject’s self-esteem, but it’s the vulnerability that shines through to how beautiful each woman is -- inside and out.

Putting it all Together:

An image tells a story. You feel something on viewing an image - it feels alive or speaks to you. It does so because there is a conscious or subconscious association that you make between the image and your mental bank of experiences, feelings and visual memories. This connection is exactly what we intend to evoke during the Sunrise Session. Portraying yourself in a different way can be used as a form of personal expression of who you are and who you want to be on your own terms! When you look at your image we hope it invokes positive feelings and visual memories to a day that was just for you. A day that made you feel beautiful, independent, strong and new.

The affected women may have felt deeply out of focus -- our session will be the beginning to sharpen her up and put her back in focus on her own terms!

Following the Sunrise Session:

While the makeover and photography session can be therapeutic in and of itself, Sunset 2 Sunrise in no way claims that our photographers are therapists, or that the emotions evoked by the photo session do not need to be addressed by trained and skilled therapists/counselors.

It is the goal of this organization, once funding is secured, to be able to provide each woman with such funding for her first two sessions of counseling, as well as to provide information and strong encouragement to seek counseling, even if for just two initial sessions.    

It is also the goal of this organization, once funding is secured, to be able to provide each woman with a camera, even if just a disposable one, so that they may engage in a different type of photo therapy. They can go out and take their own pictures with which to decorate their home and start making new memories by documenting happy times.  It is said that every photograph a person takes reflects their own self-portrait, memorializing special people and moments to be frozen in time forever. The Sunrise Session deems that women to be the person and hopes she will be empowered enough to go out and freeze new special moments!