Just when we New Yorkers start buying into the stereotype that Los Angeleons are shallow, beauty-over- brains, youth obsessed, plastic surgery addicts, they go and do something fabulous like this. In a LA Fitness poll released this week, more than 2,000 people named 66 year-old actress Helen Mirren "Body of the Year." And I'll have you know, this was no battle of the seniors. The ever popular Betty White wasn't even in the running. The competition was formidable. Helen beat out supermodel Elle MacPherson and People Magazine's most beautiful woman for 2011, Jennifer Lopez.
Can I tell you, as a 50-something woman, this is incredibly awesome news because as my age creeps steadily upward, I need every bit of proof positive that beauty and sex appeal are not as fleeting as society and the beauty industry would have us think. But we shouldn't have to wait for a once in a decade poll to reinforce the truth, especially when it lives all around us in the faces, bodies, experiences and lives of both the women who go before us, and those who follow behind.
Last year, I did a workshop for nearly 300 women on how to unleash their sensuality. I was a bit nervous as the ages for this group ranged from late 30s to early 90s, with the majority in the 60-70 plus range. I was concerned that my message might be a hard sell to women who had years, and in some cases, decades more of living under their belts than me. I also worried that because I was not an expert in geriatric sexuality, I would somehow get it all wrong and wind up boring the youngin's, and being ignored by the oldsters. I also assumed that sex for most of these women was a fond memory, and that the bulk of my message would be offering tips on how to enhance their pleasure by enjoying a sensory lifestyle as they lived out the rest of their senior years.
Okay, have you ever heard the phrase, "to assume makes an ass of you and me?" Well, I walked into that room with a bounty of asinine assumptions only to leave with a head-full of knowledge and respect for the older divas that enhance this world.
Far from being shy and retiring, these lovelies were fine, fun-loving, and many still had a bit of the freak left in them! First, they arrived looking like supermodels -- decked out in ladies-that-lunched outfits that defied the stereotypes of grandma and announced to the world that THEY knew they still had it going on and we should too. They listened, took notes, chatted among themselves and let the youngsters know in no uncertain terms that they still OWNED IT!
These women were full of energy and life-force. They made me feel comfortable and secure and in no way inhibited my presentation. Instead, they enhanced it and gave me, and my audience, much food for thought. Yummy tidbits that I will be passing along to you as time goes by. But for today, here's what I know that you should know too.
Friendships with women of all ages are imperative to your ability to grow older with confidence. Having intergenerational girlfriends is the true fountain of youth. Younger women help the older divas stay youthful and current, and women of a certain age help the up-and-comers realize that the joys of life don't have to droop when your boobs do.
One of my best friends is 67 years-old. Beverly is beautiful and fabulous and amazing. Through her, I've realized that menopause isn't as scary as it looks and sounds. She showed me how a beautiful collection of fans can turn a hot flash into a quiet seduction. She introduced me to yoga and its benefits, stressing the importance of keeping my body flexible and strong instead of worrying about keeping all of its parts in their original places. Lesson learned: agility, not youthful appearance, is what makes you an awesome lover as time goes by, and that with a few adjustments, sex can still be totally fulfilling in your senior years. I learned from her that aging gracefully comes from healthy attitudes about diet, exercise, and that sensual good living provides the true sex appeal that counts -- the sex appeal that will lead me through the peaks and valleys of my feminine confidence as the years roll by.
On the other side of the age divide is my friend, Tiffany, who is in her late 20s. While I gladly share any wisdom I may have picked up over the years, our relationship is far from one sided. I enjoy her youthful fashion sense, and quietly borrow the parts of her look that are age appropriate for me. She patiently explains Twitter and Foursquare and other social networking and other technical mysteries to me, no matter how many times I ask. And as a newlywed, her enthusiasm and tender ideas on love and marriage keep the sweetness of young love a part of my mindset.
So, be inspired by the younger and older divas in your world. Find ways to interact and grow friendships with fabulous women of all ages. These friendships will keep you young and sexy no matter if you're 23, 30 or 103! Because as my wise friends have always shown me, and Helen Mirren continues to show the world, age ain't nothin' but a number!
Follow Lori Bryant Woolridge on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@stilettou