We think the answer is a resounding NO!! Yet the perceptions of women over a certain age is that their sexiness does expire (just ask Hollywood actresses) and many women stop thinking of themselves as sexy and sensuous as they grow older.
The evening will start with an hour of wine, snacks, and mingling, featuring our exhibitor sponsors, followed by our program which will have two panel sessions that will engage women in having a conversation about society’s perceptions of growing older. The evening will include fabulous raffle prizes that will benefit.
American Apparel known for taking bold moves in their advertising campaigns recently released a promotional image that caused a media frenzy. The trending image which was released on their Instagram and Facebook page showed Jacky O’Shaughnessy, a 62 year old woman wearing a bandeau bra and high-waist underwear made of see-through lace with he title ‘Sexy has no expiration date!’.
Although the image isn’t as controversial as some of their past advertising campaigns, it was still unconventional to say the least. It was a strong reminder to the world and women in particular that beauty not only comes in all shapes and sizes but it doesn’t have an expiration date!
The time-less beauty initially modelled for American Apparel back in 2012 for their aptly named ‘Advanced Basics’ range. In an interview with Fashionista, the mature New Yorker commented saying ‘I’ve read so many times that modelling is vapid at best. I found it to be engaging and creative. It requires energy and an ability to communicate without words.’
The outcry from critics revolves mainly around the fact that people have taken objection to a woman of her age wearing such a revealing ensemble, and particularly from men. It seems that the most central objection includes being offended that a woman of her age is so clearly still connected to her sexuality, or at least, still considers herself a vital and sexual woman.
Taboo surrounding older people and expressions of sexuality is still rife in our society. Unless it is one’s specific fetish, older people are seen as asexual and mostly, impotent. We tend to dismiss our elders as incompetent at best and senile at worst. We have names for women particularly who choose to wear revealing clothing after a particular age such as “mutton dressed as lamb” and so on.
Our collective social disgust at the even the thought of our more mature generation’s sexuality says a lot about the society in which we live.
Obviously we are a youth-centric society, as proven by the multibillion dollar anti ageing industry. Youth is seen as the ideal and many people are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to tighten, firm up and remove any traces of ageing. Even though the last decade has seen more campaigns embracing older women or “realistic” beauty, there is still a burgeoning trend towards staying young for as long as possible. Which clearly leads one to believe that growing older is a handicap which must be avoided at all costs.
The combination of ageing and sexuality, it appears, makes a lot of people feel very uncomfortable.
But I keep wondering why? Firstly, what does it have to do with anyone else how we express or engage in our sexuality if it is doing no harm to anyone else? Secondly, how does it actually impact anyone’s life if women like Susan Sarandon choose to dress provocatively or in a revealing manner? I tend to wonder if the discomfort stems internally and is then projected onto those who feel more free to express their own sexuality.
Sexy has no expiration date, and nor should it.
There are too many rules in our society that dictate what we wear, what we consume, and even, what we should desire. If you feel sexy and you want to dress in a manner that shows this, then don’t let the judgment of others deter you. Personally, I think Susan Sarandon looked beautiful with her bosom slightly exposed.
Maybe it’s time to stop conforming the society’s rigorous guidelines and time to start forging a new way into middle and older ages. Allowing yourself permission to be sexy not only makes you feel better and more connected to yourself, but it’s a wonderful example to those around us of self-acceptance.
Do women have the right to be sexy in the back half of their lives? For many celebrities, it’s not a right, it’s an obligation. But what about the rest of us, who don’t have plastic surgeons on speed dial?
There’s a scientific reason that considering women past a certain age sexy has been an exception, rather than a rule, and it’s found in the root word: sex. For most species, intercourse is all about procreation, and the value given to female curves can be seen as utilitarian wide hips imply easy childbirth and large breasts imply that the resulting baby will be well-fed. Thus being sexy is still like being the baboon with the most colorful behind: it gives you more choices.
We aren’t like the rest of the animal kingdom, though, so we can, and should, have more criteria for what makes our lives meaningful. Some of us place a priority on personal appearance, others don’t are the ones who don’t more evolved for being detached from our primal nature?
A transformative discovery
I was an introverted, bookish, awkward kid with low self-esteem who didn’t like to go to parties. West Indian culture doesn’t value being skinny, and being taller than all the boys wasn’t much of a draw, either. Ditto getting the highest marks in school, or being the only black kid in my grade, or two years younger than everyone else.
In high school, however, I discovered Vogue, where thin women were considered attractive. I started sewing my own clothes and embracing, rather than fighting, my uniqueness. I was still self-conscious, but there was a flip side. When I looked in the mirror, I started to like what I saw especially after I replaced the coke-bottle glasses I’d worn since the age of four with contact lenses.
I was 16 when I graduated from high school, but I looked old enough to go dancing at clubs. Being exposed to a new pool of people confirmed my suspicion that I might be attractive. Alas, my personality was still far from magnetic apparently, my shyness came across as aloofness and rendered me intimidating. I think I got the most attention when I didn’t try to look my best, because those were the nights I was more relaxed. I didn’t think about who was looking at me, and how I was being assessed, which undoubtedly created a different vibe.
Of course, sometimes I went for it when I was in my early 20s, I showed up for a birthday dinner with my boyfriend in black-and-white plaid hot pants, a white blouse with a ruffled V-neck, black and gold sling backs, and a wide-brimmed straw hat with a white ribbon. I felt conspicuous riding the subway to the restaurant, never mind walking down the streets of midtown Manhattan, but the half of me that wasn’t thinking, “Wow, people are staring, I hope I don’t trip in these heels” enjoyed the attention.
Cellulite comes for us all
I can’t wear heels anymore anyway, and I will never wear short shorts again skirts are far more comfortable, and cellulite comes for us all. I will, on occasion, pull together an outfit purely for the fun of pleasing myself aesthetically, but when I’m dressed that way, I don’t assume anyone is deciding whether I’m “toothsome” or not I figure that, at nearly 50, I’m pretty much invisible, and at this point I don’t care if people are assessing me or not. Ironically, I still get the most positive comments on my appearance when I’m dressed down, making me wonder if the person in question forgot his glasses.
I have a lot of other things on my mind than aspiring to be a modern-day Mae West. Does this mean I’ve grown, or lost something? I don’t know. Despite a bad marriage and years of being single, my current thought is that if and when I’m in a relationship again, he needs to find me sexy and he will, if I bring the right attitude about myself into the mix. I don’t care about what everybody else thinks.
The next generation
By the way, I was digging through my drawers when I stumbled on those black-and-white plaid hot pants. So I gave them to my 18-year-old daughter who, having been freed from high school, seems to have just realized that she is sexy. Some days, she wears short skirts, some days, she wears sweats. Mainly, I see her as a young woman who owns her femininity and is awakening to a power within her that has nothing to do with men. Which is either a great definition of sexy or a much more important consideration.
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