Sexy, sassy and over 50

Huff Post 50 collage
‘Sexy, sassy and over 50’. That’s the subheading given to a feature recently published in Huff/Post 50. The impetus of which was to challenge the idea that women become invisible once they reach 50 years of age.
The author asked 11 women aged 48 to 67 what made them feel sexy now, at their age, and to compare it to how they felt when they were in their 20s. They also invited them to take part in a photoshoot, asking them to wear clothes that made them feel sexy.
What I like about this feature is the assertion that women do not lose sex appeal just because they reach middle-age. I also like that the untouched photos make visible older women’s sexual bodies. Usually within popular media (television programmes, film and magazines) when an older woman’s sexual agency and expression make an appearance, her sexy body does not (it is hidden behind bed sheets or clothing).
Representations of female sexuality are almost always filtered through the (stereotyped) heterosexual male gaze (as young, slim, firm, crease free bodies) and these images defy such ideals of sexiness.
The narratives are powerful too, exemplifying how the women have grown in confidence with age and how their ideas of what constitutes sexiness have changed (physical appearance is no longer the most powerful indicator of sexiness to them).
The women in these shots embody sexiness. But I am left wondering:
– To what extent has the male gaze influenced these images: the poses the women hold, the clothing that they wear?
– And are the women reclaiming sexy on their own terms (as the full title suggests), or mirroring the sexiness associated with younger women?
Over to you!

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