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Lingerie, Bikinis and the Older Woman

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I am always baffled that lingerie and swim wear are advertised only by young and beautiful models. What about older and beautiful?

Beauty is not defined by age, so why do we not see more older models in lingerie and bikini ads and in catalogues as a matter of course?

Having been bugged for a while by this thought, I went as far as contacting a known brand - no, not Victoria's Secret, another one - to ask them whether their products were only for young women. I have not received any reply. Of course. They probably thought I wanted to model for them, but no, I enquired as a customer! (Models are also customers).

When you think about it, it is most bizarre: are older women not supposed to buy and wear lingerie? Surely, it is a misunderstanding. Older women too love silky, sexy numbers. Older women too love dressing up for their partner or just luxuriate at home wearing a beautiful négligée. Older women may have greater spending power than younger ones. I know, I am generalising a bit here, not all older women have cash to spare but you get my drift.

If you do a google search on mature women and lingerie this is what you will find:

  • Tons of porn sites with badly taken photographs of older women in explicitly sexual poses wearing poorly designed lingerie
  • Sites with polls such as "should older women wear lingerie?" and comments left by people making the most offensive remarks about older women's bodies (please note that their disgust is always about the ageing female body, rarely about men's).
  • A few sites that discuss, with a sense of surprise, the cougar effect instigated bySex and the City and the rise in sales of lingerie items among women in their forties and fifties (these naughty older women, what do they think they are doing?)
  • A few blogs dedicated to women in said age groups which might have some posts about lingerie for older women, with tasteful pictures. We need more of these!

But if you open any mail catalogue, any magazine, or if you search online for lingerie to buy, you are most unlikely to see an older model wearing it.

The same goes for swimsuits and bikinis. Summer is here now (sort of) and women of all ages are thinking about beach wear to take on holiday, so the question that keeps popping up is "at what age should I stop wearing a bikini?" Why should one?

The very fact that there is a proliferation of 'mature porn' is sign of a twisted way of thinking: what underpins it is the view that sexuality in older age is unhealthy, a perversion, good only for pornography. Lingerie is associated with sexiness, so the absence of older models in lingerie ads is to do with a puritanical attitude towards older women and older men's sexuality, the obverse of which is porn.

But oh, I hear you say, we want to see images which are inspirational. Sure, I am all for it. I don't want to see a poorly lit, out of focus photograph. A well taken photograph will always show the subject at his/her best.

Older bodies are not offensive and many older women (and men) have fabulous bodies, through exercise and healthy diets. There are imperfections, but even younger bodies are imperfect.

I know I don't want to wear waist high cotton pants, I like silk knickers and well cut bras, and as a keen swimmer and sun bather I want to wear bikinis which can look good on me. How can I tell what will suit me, if the only images available are of women half my age? If I could see some flattering designs, if I could see something worn by someone closer to me in age and with a body I can more easily identify with, I would be able to shop more confidently.

It is that simple.

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