We’ve discussed the research: Older women “do it,” and like it, a lot! Beneath the sheets, we’re a lusty bunch, but get out on the streets, and we become invisible. No checking-you-out eye action; no swivel head. It’s hard even to get the attention of the guy in the hardware store if a young blonde is looking confused.
Older women are supposed to be genderless and unassuming. Certainly not sexy. Often, not even visible.
That’s a psychological sucker-punch to the self-image if there ever was one. So we wonder why, once we’ve begun (or completed) “the change,” we struggle with feeling all confident and attractive? When we are no longer fertile or full of hormones, are we still sexual? While we’re coping with a changing metabolism and whipsawing emotions are we still attractive?
In our time and culture, menopause is embarrassing and slightly distasteful. It’s synonymous with loss of fertility, loss of hormones, unmentionable changes “down there,” and growing old. Far from being regarded as wise and valuable, older women are often viewed as useless and sexless.
Maybe that cultural aversion is, in part, why we ignore things like incontinence, lack of libido, and painful sex—sometimes for years—because it’s embarrassing to admit that we may be having trouble with “the change.” Or experiencing menopause at all.
Wasn’t aging supposed to be graceful? Aren’t these supposed to be the golden years?
Without doubt they are. But to enjoy this time of life, we have to reject the negative voices all around us and in our heads. Maybe the way we look and, I hope, the way we look at life has matured. And maybe the way we do sex has changed. Maybe we need a little more time and a little more stimulation. Maybe we need more finesse and a few aids. But we still got it going on, girlfriend.
Here are some tips to get your sexy on:
- Adjust your attitude. Sexy begins in your head. See yourself as sexy and attractive, and others will too. But even more important, what do you care how others see you? As one very sexy middle-aged woman said, sexy at midlife is “being sure enough of yourself to do, feel, act, dress, say what you want and not giving a flipping flyer what anyone thinks—and they often think you are cool!” So, Rule Number One: don’t give a flipping flyer.
- Take care of yourself. This is the time to stick to those New Year’s resolutions. Really. Lose weight. Eat well. Exercise. Looking your best gives you an incredible confidence boost, and it makes you feel vital and vibrant as well. This might include a little fashion makeover as well. Nothing like flattering clothes and the right hair for a little emotional pick-me-up.
- Enjoy life. Be interested in the world around you. Men (and women) are attracted to vital, interesting people.
- Laugh. It relieves stress and releases endorphins. It makes you look attractive.
- Have sex. Often. Think about it. Plan on having sex. Adjust to your changing physicality. (Talk to your doctor if you have specific problems, such as pain or lack of desire.) Don’t buy that cultural message that you’re no longer in the game. You still are in the game.
- Wear red (but only if the color’s good on you). Men think women in red are hot. (And conversely, women are more attracted to men who wear red.) That’s what the research says.
I’ll leave the last word to a man who writes, “Now I check out the middle-aged women when I hit the grocery store, in the coffee shop, when I’m out running. I’m looking for that sexy confidence, that wisdom, that I’m vibrant and alive and I don’t care what you think about me sort of attitude.
So, ladies, what are you waiting for? Get your sexy on, for your special partner or for the potential one who might be checking you out in the produce aisle.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.