“I just wanted to feel beautiful and empowered”
LLANO, Texas (KXAN) — Maribeth Harlow was not expecting to be a divorcee at 51 years old. But after 24 years, she explained that her marriage “just didn’t work out.”
Six years ago, she did a photoshoot with Llano photographer Tom Suarez when she was separated from her now-ex husband. Harlow wound up reconciling with her husband, but ultimately the two decided to divorce, making it official on June 6.
When the divorce was final, Suarez asked Harlow if she would like to do a divorce photo shoot.
“I would freaking love it, ” she replied.
“I just wanted to feel beautiful and empowered,” Harlow explained. “It wasn’t to disrespect the institution of marriage or the past 25 years, but it was turning the page and moving forward.”
Suarez and Harlow got to planning. They met up Sunday at a sand plant in Llano (with permission from the plant to do so).
She didn’t have her original wedding dress, so she ordered one from Amazon. Plus, she explained the dress from 24-years ago “was not very stylish” and she’s lost weight since then.
A friend bought her a divorce survival wine glass so she brought that along, as well as a bottle of red wine, roses, the veil from her wedding, and a bottle of champagne from her 20th anniversary.
She tried out a variety of looks, including one where she dumped the bottle of red wine down the front of her dress. In some of the shots, she climbed up on a conveyor belt. Harlow got to throw roses and trample on petals, she even stepped on her old wedding rings and a copy of their original wedding invitation.
“It was freeing, it was fun,” she said.
Harlow got to set a few things on fire, too.
“Instead of tearing up his stuff and setting his things on fire, I decided I would set my things on fire,” she explained.
“In the back of my mind I was singing Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless,’” she laughed
Harlow doesn’t know if she would get married again. She knows it’s possible for marriages to work out long term: her parents have been married for 62 years and she celebrates their marriage.
She just didn’t want the dissolution of her own marriage to be all “doom and gloom” and the photo shoot was a step in that direction.
Harlow said she wasn’t expecting to receive as much attention as she has for these photos, people she’s never met before have been contacting her to compliment them.
“It’s interesting because some of the feedback I’ve gotten has not been positive, but that’s OK,” she said.
Harlow asked for her children’s permission before doing the photo shoot, but says she’s not concerned about anyone else’s opinion
“They see me as a strong independent woman and that’s who I want to be for them,” she explained.