Donnalou Stevens can’t believe her good fortune. What started out as a little ditty she wrote and sang with a bunch of girlfriends at a party is gathering steam as a joyful anthem for women who embrace their aging bodies.
Her country-themed “Older Ladies” video has gone viral, garnering more than 2 million hits since posted in early June. Shot by film student Christine McHugh and backed up by other mature women, Stevens gleefully strums a guitar and sings lyrics such as: “Well, I ain’t 16, not a beauty queen, and my eyes are baggin’ and my skin is saggin’, and if that’s the reason you don’t love me, well maybe that’s not love.”
“I thought I was just putting out a little song,” says Stevens, 55, a San Francisco Bay Area transplant from Wichita Falls, Texas. “I get to be this voice of empowerment. What a privilege and an honor.”
The merry tune that Stevens wrote in 30 minutes on a shuttle bus belies the ‘singer-songwriter-artist’s personal challenges. She suffered chronic pain for 35 years and was unable to work. Denied disability benefits, she survived a nomadic existence.
“My path has been a challenging one,” Stevens says. “I was a pretty tortured person.”
She credits her new outlook to a decision to stop focusing on the negative and on meditation, which has helped ease the pain. She now meditates two to three hours daily. “I think there’s enough pain and suffering in the world. If I’m sad I want to create art that’s happy.”
So that’s what she does. She has three more video projects she’d like to produce and is raising money through Kickstarter for them. “It’s not about what I can get – it’s about what I can give. I want every person in the world to hold me to that.”
Her next video? Why, “Older Men,” of course.
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