09/13/2010 04:38 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

You're Hot! And It Isn't Menopause

If you are a woman over a certain age I am here to tell you that you are hot and it doesn't have anything to do with hot flashes or menopause. American women are beginning to understand what their European counterparts have always known: The older woman is incredibly sexy. Menopause and getting older are just a natural part of life and does not mean you stop being sexy.

It wasn't until I went back to Italy as a "mature" woman, a woman over 40, that I realized what a sexy creature I was! The Italian males gave me appreciative glances in fancy restaurants and gallerias. Comments of "bellissima, bellissima!" were a common occurrence, boosting my self-esteem and making me feel that 40 and over might not be so bad at all. (Of course the first time an Italian male smiled at me and said the word bellissima in my direction I looked over my shoulder to see what sexy Italian lady was behind me. To my utter delight, he meant me!)

The comments made my husband, who has always found "older women" very sexy, feel good, too. After all, I was with him! He was showing me off. It made me feel, and I want to kick myself for saying this, but it did make me feel like a "trophy wife."

Men, not only in Italy, but in all of Europe and Latin American countries appreciate the woman who has a little "mileage" on her. Like a well-preserved vintage car, a good piece of 18k gold jewelry, or a fine patina on a silver tea service, women who have lived are a premium in other countries. They are valued for their beauty as well as their intelligence. Getting older in those places is a plus not a handicap!

What has taken us so long to realize something that Europeans have always known: That older women are hot, hot, hot? Believe it or not, this ill-conceived notion we had in America had a lot to do with our Puritanical ancestry, Mom and apple pie.

We are a unique society in America; Puritan beliefs die hard here. As open-minded as we like to think we are, we simply weren't when it came to sexual attitudes and woman of "a certain age." How many of us, as teenagers, really liked to think that our parents were having sex? At their age? Ooooo, yuck! Puh-leeze! We wanted our parents to be celibate and sleeping in separate beds a la 1950s TV sitcoms.

Yet our European cousins, from very young ages, always accepted the fact that sex was a natural part of life and took it for granted that their parents, and even grandparents, were indeed enjoying a sex life, as was their right. Their attitude has always been that sex isn't only for the young and they are absolutely right.

We Americans, on the other hand, clung to the Puritanical view, albeit subliminally, that sex was for procreation. The idea was that sex for any other reason was somehow a forbidden act. That once you became a parent, sexual activity and the desire and need for it, disappeared along with sports cars, sexy lingerie and staying up past 8:30 p.m. Mom and apple pie went together not Mom, sensuality and Dad. Dad and the lawnmower went together, not Dad and irresistible urges for Mom. Sex was something that went with youth, not anything you did after 40 and, of course, no woman past that age was sexy.

But sexiness has more to do with just looking good and having a healthy sex life. Europeans appreciate the older woman for her experiences and her well-earned attitudes. She has learned things in her life and has opinions of her own that are well-respected. Add to that the accumulation of some of the material benefits that working over the years has to offer and you find a woman who can stand on her own feet. This is a woman who takes excellent care of herself, physically and mentally. Best of all, she is valued for all of this, not put out to pasture. After all it is experience that creates who we are and makes us interesting.

Perhaps Brandon, 32 and recently married, puts it best when talking about mature women. Referring to his 45-year-old bride he told me this:

I was attracted to my wife Deidre not only because of her beauty but because of the way she carries herself, the confidence she has when meeting people, and her powerful sense of self. Those qualities intrigue me. She knows who she is and is proud of herself and her achievements in life. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in her as well. I find that to be damn sexy.

So, hot and sexy, mature and valued -- sounds very good to this woman of a certain age. How about you?

To read more from Kristen Houghton, peruse her articles at Kristen and visit her Keys to Happiness blog.
And Then I'll Be Happy! Look Inside the Book
Kristen's email

Copyright 2010 Kristen Houghton