Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sex After 40 (In Which I Digress--A Lot)

"The actress [Sharon Stone--ed], who turned 48 last week, looked stunning as she arrived for the world premiere of Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction in London's Leicester Square.

She said the film, which promises even more nudity and 'kinky stuff' than the 1992 original, proves that women over 40 can be sexy.

"In America we tend to erase women after 40, and it's a period when women become their most interesting. They are sexual in a different and alluring way," added the star, who recently became the face of Dior skincare."

--Daily Mail (UK)

So now we need to be nude to be sexy???


Count me as one of those women who is on the far side of 40. I'm also lucky in that I look younger than my chronological age. Okay, and I often act much younger than my chronological age. My excuse for the latter is the same as when I was a girl and my mother would admonish me, "Act your age!"

"But this is the first time I've been this age!" I would protest. "How am I supposed to know how to act?"

Be that as it may, on with Ms. Stone's assessment of her role:

"This film expresses that sexual allure in an unabashed and provocative way - in a way that is gritty and dangerous and quite presumptive."

To be honest, all I need do to be provocative to Hubs is wear a T-shirt. Or wash dishes (what is it about women at the sink that turns men on? Is hot, steamy water and bubbles an aphrodisiac? If so, Dawn is a heck of a lot cheaper than Chanel No. 5.) I don't need to be "unabashed and provocative"--thank goodness! I don't want to have to think that hard.

Most of us over the age of 40 need a little structural help for breasts and buttocks that have succumbed to the effects of gravity. Much like most men over the age of 40 are follicley-challenged on their heads (what is the evolutionary purpose of ear hair?) and who need a "skosh" more room in their Levis, especially around the waist and thighs.

"Being comfortable in your own skin" applies to those of us who are pausing to enjoy the view from the top of the hill (don't rush me! I'll move downhill in a bit!), both figuratively AND literally. On my 40th Birthday, I decided to make peace with my faults. I am never going to be Grace Kelly. I will never learn to modulate my voice. I will always have to watch what I eat and exercise. I will always have a sarcastic sense of humor (although I have learned to be careful of when I display it). I will always be a Roman Catholic Girl Scout geek tomboy who often leaps before she looks. And who will do just about anything other than keep house, although I do enjoy being a wife and a mother. (Can't show my daughter how to sew, but I can explain pH for a science project...)

And when I turned 50, I stopped apologizing for myself. I wear skirts and nylons to work because that is what I feel comfortable wearing in a business environment. On the weekends, I often don't wear jewelry--and that includes not wearing my wedding band. Hey--I drive a minivan (covered with Girl Scout and Boy Scout bumper stickers), have a parade of children following me, and a balding, pudgy guy with a gray beard talking to me about car payments, college tuition, and what-are-we-going-to-do-for-dinner. I need a ring to show I'm married, too?

The Anchoress summed it well: "Women in America are not “erased” without their owacquiescencece to it. Women who run for botox at the first wrinkle or who get their faces pulled so tight they can’t close their eyes, or who constantly have themselves “primed” invalidate themselves. They signal to the world that the world’s obsession with youthful beauty is, in fact, a correct and legitimate obsession. They disown themselves and all the gifts and wisdom that come with age by obliterating any evidence of it."

Wasn't Women's Liberation about liberating ourselves from "ageist" ideas about beauty? That the wisdom of a crone had as much value as the physical appearance of a maiden? (Although I hate the word "crone." I much prefer "Dame.")

There's a certain softening around the edges that happens with age. Helen Fielding, in Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason, has a wonderful scene where Mrs. Jones talks to Bridget about The Velveteen Rabbit. Bridget later kisses Mark Darcy "on the top of his head, where his fur is getting thin." Love--and life--wears us out and breaks us down, making us comfortable in the process. Comfortable with ourselves, which, in turn, makes us comfortable to be around.

I'm okay with that--that's why I buy "relaxed fit" jeans.

(H/T: The Anchoress)