Salma Hayek

Older women are attractive and sexy. More and more starlets over 40 are topping the lists of “most beautiful” celebrities. Is the world finally waking up to the beauty of older, confident, experienced women? There are plenty of examples among Latinas: Salma Hayek (45), Jennifer Lopez (42) and Sofia Vergara (40) consistently make the “most sexy” lists. And let’s not forget Olga Tañón (45), Maria Conchita Alonso (55), Raquel Welch (still stunning at 72) or Italian actresses Monica Bellucci (47) and Sophia Loren, drop-dead gorgeous at 77!

But if there’s a celebrity who amazes me the most it’s Mamie Van Doren, 81, who I recently saw on a reality show. When I heard her name I could hardly believe it; I thought she had passed away (decades ago). But there she was, in a mini-skirt, sporting long, platinum blonde hair and a younger boyfriend, choosing a wedding dress for her upcoming nuptials. Wow!

But it’s not just the tabloids that are taking notice of these mature beauties. A revolution is also taking place, albeit slowly, in the fashion industry. Two decades ago, top models stopped working by the time they were 30, as they were considered “too old.” But in the last 15 years or so, the demand for age-appropriate models has increased, making room for this new group of so-called Glam-Mas. Among the glut of 18-year-old skinny models, recent advertising campaigns include “new” faces like Carmen Dell’Orefice (81), Jacquie Tajah Murdock (82) and Daphne Selfe (83). The HBO documentary, About Face: Supermodels Then and Now explores how iconic models like Jerry Hall (56) and Isabella Rossellini (60) have come to terms with aging and are still enjoying success in their later years. 

In an interview with British magazine Grazia, Selfe’s agent Elaine Dugas highlighted the fact that the over-fifties have great buying power and are unwilling to buy into a brand that advertises with an 18-year-old. The real evidence of a changing mindset in the fashion industry is how far and wide the trend for Glam-Mas has spread, right to Madison Avenue. American Apparel’s grey-haired model Jacky O’Shaughnessy (60) was photographed in a series of iconic, powerful images that show a mature woman feeling comfortable in her own skin.

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While life expectancy has increased, the cultural shift is even more dramatic. Post-menopausal women consider themselves valuable and sexy, and they don’t want to wear granny clothes, nor do they believe that only young girls have the right to be beautiful. I hope we see more beautiful, inspiring, seasoned women winning prizes, showing the world they still have a sex life and modeling the latest fashions. Call them swofties, MILFS or cougars. I call them fabulous ladies who are teaching younger generations of women how a real woman can take care of herself into her old age and continue to live life to the fullest.