Guest post by Deborah Cohen
Do I Need to Be a Bikini Model Now That I’m Over 50?
Going through the aisles of Target to get what I thought would just be a loaf of bread and a jar of pickles, I gravitate towards (as usual) the clothing section. As my daughter and I look through what is on the sales rack, and the poster that hangs above, I tell her, “Things have really changed. You would never see a picture of a plus size model with noticeable stretch marks hanging in a store when I was your age.”
I think this is so wonderful. This is a step that has needed to be taken for so, so long. Women of my generation only saw magazines filled with size 0 models. Without even knowing it, we were indoctrinated into a world of diets and self-doubt. Everyone was supposed to look one way, and if you didn’t you weren’t meeting expectations. It was a common occurrence to see me with plastic wrap around my waist, making myself into a human sweat machine, or diligently doing my routine from my “Thinner Thighs in Thirty Days” handbook.
As I joyfully notice more and more young, realistic body images out there, like the ones at Target, I am also noticing an uptick in unrealistic body images of women 50+.
Strolling through a variety of stories online, from parenting, to politics, to pop culture, I see a picture of a model who is a bit older than me, in her late 50’s. I’ve seen a lot of these pictures lately.
The taglines usually read like this:
“55 and her toned, flat tummy has fans in disbelief!”
“Abs like you’ve never seen, and she’s 63!”
“Former superstar, 52, walks Sports Illustrated Runway, and looks even better now in her bathing suit than she did at 25!”
The message from all of these stories is that women over 50 can still be desirable and not be pigeonholed due to age– which is fantastic!
We are still beautiful, sexy, and appealing. After all, aging should be seen as something good; we shouldn’t be “anti” aging, because, without aging, we’d be, well…dead.
Just like having curvier younger models, seeing older women as attractive is a long time coming.
Shouldn’t we be giving the same message to older women, that whatever your body type is, it’s a good thing?
It’s fantastic that people are now acknowledging that older women can dress how they want, wear bikinis, miniskirts, whatever makes them feel good. I remember hearing as a young girl when watching fashion gurus on talk shows, “She’s over 30. No more short dresses.”
We know that older women can work out and stay (or get) in terrific shape. Having a toned body doesn’t have to have the expiration date that used to be stamped on women.
Our bodies are wonders. Our bodies do so much for us, and are truly (without sounding corny) works of art. There’s this magnificent intertwinement of muscles, bones, and organs working very diligently. Getting the gift of waking up each day is pretty miraculous, considering all of the astounding intricacies it takes to keep us going.
But then as a lot of us age, we see parts of this glorious machine sagging, getting crepier, losing its elasticity, and not being as tight as it possibly used to be.
I want to see more messages out there not giving accolades to older women for looking young, but for looking like we have a body that has- and continues to- take us on this journey of life. It’s crucial to be healthy and to take care of yourself, but not everyone has the same end results when doing so.
Showing that older women can feel and are beautiful is the first step in the mind shift on aging. The next step has to be the message that is starting to get out to the younger women–you can be who you are without so much comparison and worry, for the simple reason that every body is different, and that’s just fine.