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Madonna, who is 53 years old and a mother several times over, recently flashed her breast at the audience at her concert in Turkey. Do we really need to see superannuated former sex symbols exposing their erogenous zones?
The flaunting of her right nipple really took the biscuit. Of course, Madonna doesn’t eat biscuits, or drink tea, or wear clothes, or any of the normal things women over 50 have time to do now The Hormone Years are behind them.
She thinks she is being shocking when, in fact, she is being boring. We’ve seen it all before. Madonna is determined to convince us and herself that being in her sixth decade does not mean she is no longer a sexual, desirable being.
Well, I’m sorry, love, but it does. It’s over. The referee has blown his whistle and the chequered flag has come down.
You might think I’m all for women in their 50s acting as though they are in their raunchy, carefree 20s, given that I’ve had a facelift.
I haven’t flashed my nipples, but I did have them relocated and made smaller and darker by breast reduction surgery when I was 30.
Surely that was done with the expectation that someone, somewhere would look at them at some point.
I applaud the fact Madonna has not let herself go: it takes hard work and dedication to look as she does. But even she can’t hold back the ravages of time – and most people’s reaction to those pictures will be “ugh” rather than “phwoar”.
Bluntly, nudity at the age of 53 is not just gratuitous, it’s gruesome. Should I have written that last sentence? Probably not.
I wrote once about how all the (now grey) hairs on my chin and throat, which I used to know intimately, had moved after the facelift, like tiny fir trees in an avalanche. I had to locate and get to know them all over again, in order to pluck them out each morning.
I was inundated with e-mails from women, saying I had let the side down. “Now my husband wants to know if I have fir trees!” wrote one. “They don’t need to know about this stuff!”
Is it better if older women feel we should believe the illusion and measure up to Madonna, who strains every nerve and sinew to convince the world she’s a bendier, feistier, leaner, better version of her young self?
Or should we talk about such things as grey pubic hair and varicose veins, so that women who age don’t feel quite so isolated and disgusted by what is happening to their body? These are the badges of honour that indicate the tumult of being a young woman is well and truly over, but that also show you are a survivor.
Yes, you become invisible over the age of 50, but you can also find new rewards. I will list some of the new rewards here, as soon as I can think of some.
Oh, OK, the nurturing hormones have long since vaporised, which means you no longer run around after men, doing stuff for them, and you have less patience with nonsense. And that’s about it.
Part of me wants women to know we all share the same biological, gynaecological decrepitude.
And if Madonna is out there, grinding her pelvis, placing both legs, pretzel fashion, behind her head and flashing her breasts, aren’t we being given the idea that all of us women over 50 could look like she does if only we had the time/money/energy?
Having wrestled arthritically with this question for years now, I’ve come to the conclusion that holding up very rich, very manicured versions of women our age is dangerous.
Not to everyone – not to women in happy marriages with teenage children and a pension – but to those of us for whom life hasn’t quite panned out as we thought it would.
Surely Madonna’s highly sexualised example not only means women continue to spend money on stuff (skin cream, Botox, designer gear), but that we are never satisfied with how we look.
I wondered, the other day, whether I will still be having full leg and Brazilian waxes when I’m 60 (I doubt I’ll be able to afford them).
How strange it would be to subject myself to that then. But is it any stranger than doing it now, aged 53?
Surely, women like me have to be deluded to wax ourselves so that we resemble an adolescent: Madonna is both victim and perpetrator, as am I.
Just as anorexia assaults the most susceptible young women, the ones with low self-esteem who do not live in a bubble of love and family support, a desire to look young assaults those of us who feel we are not ready to grow old.
I’m a case in point. I don’t have a stable, loving relationship, I don’t have children, I am not where I want to be in my career, and so I feel my body is racing ahead of me. I need more time.
My surgery, my self-assault, was more about being acceptable to myself, not about attracting a man. I don’t have a problem with not being sexy or attractive to men, because I have never been sexy or attractive to men. It’s not something I miss.
Madonna clearly misses it. It’s what defines her look – that whole platinum blonde, Marilyn Monroe schtick – and her lyrics, her videos, her clothes, her little-girl voice.
Brigitte Bardot, much ridiculed for her Shar Pei skin, doesn’t miss it because she found something else: a love for animals.
Of course it’s great that, at 50, we don’t resemble our own mothers at that age. But Nipplegate is an act too far, a wake-up call, a mirror to my own and many others’ ridiculousness.
That is what made Madonna’s latest striptease so pitiful: the hole was not in her lace bra, but in her soul. – Daily Mail