The headlines are everywhere: 60 is the New Sexy, 50 is the New 30, 70 is the New 50. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out everyone wants to feel sexy and attractive. But society has been telling women for…well, forever, that after 35 or maybe 40, we’re no longer worthy of attention. After 50, we are most definitely on the proverbial shelf. Not even a decent shelf. I’m talking about the shelf at the back of the pantry where things like that 5-year old can of cranberry sauce sit covered in dust.
That was Then
Think of our mothers’ generation. The majority were housewives and they didn’t have a lot of acceptable options for turning back the hands of time, or at least trying to. In 1956, Clairol introduced at-home hair color with a brilliant campaign, “Does she or doesn’t she?” The Miss Clairol product made it possible for women to use that evasive “only my hairdresser knows for sure,” to avoid divulging the secret that they used hair color to craft an appealing public self. If a woman went so far as to have an actual face lift, she disappeared for two weeks to a “spa vacation” and returned with tightened skin that was explained away as being the result of simple rest and relaxation.
This is Now
At times it can feel as though, if you aren’t doing something to rejuvenate your appearance, you are in the minority. No longer do women trudge off uncomplainingly into a twilight of sensible shoes and elasticized waist bands, awaiting the grim reaper – who just happens to be the only one who still invites them to his parties. We do not accept being labeled as unattractive or uninteresting, and we certainly will not smile while being undervalued.
Women over 50 make no bones about the effort they put into looking sexy and attractive, or the procedures they undergo to put mother nature in her place. Some even share before and after photos on Instagram. Even I posted a photo of myself with layers of foil folded into my hair. My mother would kill me if she knew I shared my highlights with the world.
I noticed a while back that friends of mine were showing up at happy hour with impossibly long, beautiful lashes. Since I never notice things like this, I knew something was up. They filled me in on the eyelash extension trend and I have since been paying attention. They are everywhere and on women of all ages who are willing and able to invest in the once or twice a month ritual. If you look in the mirror and wonder what you can do about looking so exhausted, washed out, or just blah, eyelash extensions are a real confidence booster. Don’t want to commit to extensions? Try these tips.
Bold eyebrows have also become the thing for women of all ages. Where the 90s was about “the thinner the eyebrow the better,” (which I always thought looked dreadful), now, full brows are springing up all over. Not Frida Kahlo, but close. Gels, pencils, tints or professional coloring all can be used to help fight the fading, thinning and graying of brows for those who want to regain that definition that frames your eyes and makes you feel sexy and attractive.
Our Minds and Bodies
The women I know polish their hands, feet, bodies and faces. They whiten their teeth and apply spray or self tanner regularly. They purchase sexy lingerie and are confident enough to assess the latest fashion trends and apply only what works for them. No more going whole hog into something just because a designer or magazine tells them they must. (I’m looking at you, embroidered bomber jacket.)
Women “of a certain age” are savvy enough to know there is more truth than fiction to the saying made famous by Billy Crystal’s Fernando Lamas character – “It is better to look good than to feel good.” There is a power that comes with physical confidence. We know now that there are more benefits to spending time at the gym than just checking that box for our doctor – or checking out that cute guy on the stair stepper. It goes beyond physical health and speaks to our mental wellness.
With the understanding that exercise in the form of cardio, weights and yoga can keep us not only healthier, but feeling and looking better, we are miles ahead of where we once were. Add to those benefits a plethora of available treatments, including hormone replacement therapy, vaginal rejuvenation, and personal lubricants that greatly reduce the postmenopausal issues that once signaled the end of fun in the bedroom.
Many empty nesters have found a return to playful affection and sensuality. Where it was once challenging to be in the mood after the requirements that a job and family placed on you day-in and day-out; sharing some quiet space without interruptions, listening to music and actually talking to each other again has resulted in a significant boon in the romance department.
There are multiple online dating services that cater to mature adults. I know women who are juggling more dating partners now than they did in their 20s – and enjoying every minute of it. At this point in life, smart women know what they want from a partner – in bed and out, and they aren’t interested in compromising.
I suppose the lesson from all this is –
Yes, high heels and high cheekbones are sexy and attractive, as is unblemished skin.
But, so is self-confidence, a healthy body, a good set of lingerie, and knowing how to use it.