Aging and “Sexiness”

This article by India Knight celebrates the fact that women are no longer considered wholly asexual upon reaching the age of 40, or upon becoming mothers. Hurray! Right? Uh… maybe not so much, as we learn that we can still be sexual in our sixties *if* we have a body like Helen Mirren, and that we should be very grateful that surgery is now available to help us in that pursuit– a feminist victory, according to Knight. She tries to spin her idolisation of Mirren as really about her natural appearance, but it doesn’t last long:

There are no comedy plastic bosoms, or an eerily smooth face, or grotesquely inflated absurdi-lips, no weirdly sinewy body that suggests she lives in the gym. She just looks great.

She has perhaps had a reasonable bit of “work”, but nothing that is outside most people’s league, now that so-called minor surgical procedures are deregulated and your chiropodist can technically give you Botox: we are hardly talking three facelifts and intensive body work.

Knight devotes quite a lot of effort to spin all of this as feminism. Silly me, getting the feminism all wrong, thinking that one could be a sexual being without getting work done so as to have a body like Helen Mirren’s. Ah well, live and learn. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

9 thoughts on “Aging and “Sexiness”

  1. Pretty disgraceful article. At the bottom is a list of people who are ‘still looking good’ – top of the list is Sophia Loren, who has had rather a lot of ‘work’ done. Then there is a list of ‘and not so good’, topped by Brigitte Bardot, who hasn’t had any ‘work’ done (according to the celebrity gossip-vine), and leaves her hair grey.

  2. Please leave Brigitte Bardot out of this.

    I’ve seen many American bands try to score brownie points by name-dropping her at gigs only to be puzzled by the booing she now summons around here. She’s been an animal-rights activist for years, but she’s also been a big factor in making right-wing extremists acceptable in France. She’s know as “the hag” around here not because of her looks but because of her xenophobic and racist positions and being the “acceptable” face of the Front National political party. Please find someone else as a role model, she’s just toxic.

  3. Counterfnord, thanks for your comment and point taken. I know BB has been in the news for saying some pretty rancid things of late. I only mentioned her because she is entered on the list of people who aren’t looking so good by the India Knight article, but she’s had no ‘work’ done, reinforcing the message that if you want to be an attractive older lady, you gotta have surgery.

  4. Monkey, I know you didn’t mean it as an endorsement or anything; sadly, it’s not just “of late”, her involvement with that party and rancid statements go way back. It’s been a pet project of mine to point out that part of her legacy whenever her glamorous figure is hailed.

    More seriously, I think it’s sad when attractiveness is reduced to looks, at any age. Just sticking to actresses, I would rather look at Jeanne Moreau or Lauren Bacall as examples of women who have carried their attractiveness into their eighties, and proved it wasn’t just about looks. I’ve yet to hear of any kind of surgery for that, but the good news is that it doesn’t seem to fade with aging. I guess pretty and stupid must be reassuring to some men, but my own taste runs different.

    Really, I think the whole “you-gotta-get-work-done” spin is disturbing, and smacks of a denial that just cannot end well. I think it’s related to the wii-fit post in that it’s yet another normative — and unrealistic — image imposed on people, and the surgery part feels ominous, as if aging was somehow a disease. Delusional to me, and I worry about those whose self-esteem would rely on such crutches. Maybe I’m overthinking that part, it’s all about peddling stuff, isn’t it?

  5. Counterfnord – I had no idea. Rather foolishly perhaps, I had assumed it was a recent thing with BB. Oh well.

    There’s more and more of the surgery as normal thing going on. I don’t know whereabouts in the world you are, but here in the UK we have various makeover programmes that give the makeover-ee a little surgery, along with the usual new clothes, new hairstyle, and new shade of eyeshadow. The surgery is presented as normal and the sort of thing attractive women do in their lunch hour. Most disturbing.

  6. I’m actually from France, hence the familiarity with BB’s switch from sex-symbol to hate-symbol. The hag doesn’t matter in my book, what has me worried is girls thinking they have to confirm to some stupid stereotype. Plastic surgery is being passed off as innocuous, but the message it is sending is very wrong to me. I just don’t know, hopefully today’s girls know better and I’m just a drooling old fool. In that particular case, I wish I am.

  7. This reminds me of how irritated I get when, for example, on the recent Maxim list a male friend of mine said “but they have some women over 40 on the list”…

    Yeah, they do. And that’s great…but not nearly enough. Because which 40+ women are they? Oh, that’s right, they’re ones who still look 30-something (Berry, Jolie, Hayek, etc.)–not women who are deemed beautiful on account of their age.

  8. I am definitely over 40. I am almost 65. I am not pretty. I look like an old woman. I am still sexually active. I am not married. I have no desire to go there again.

    Yet society acts like if you are not pretty and have a great figure you are not wanted. If I need all those things, I would not be sexually active at all. I am me, a wee bit kinky, a lot accepting. Life is good.

    Beauty has never had anything to do with my sex life. I aint. I am me.

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