'Hot women intimidated me when I was younger. Now they make me feel empowered.'

When one commenter suggested actor Kate Beckinsale must be having a mid-life crisis after she posted a striking bikini photo on Instagram, she was quick to advise him she’s actually older than he might think.

“I’m unlikely to live to 100,” Beckinsale quipped, reminding him – and her 5.6 million followers – that she is, in fact, 50 years old. 

The mid-life crisis barb was one of many responses to the image that honed in on Beckinsale’s age. What else is new? 


Image: Instagram/@katebeckinsale

While we don’t bat an eyelid when a 20-something shares a risqué image, if a celebrity over 45 strikes a similar pose, the world responds. Some react with direct put downs à la the midlife crisis remark. Others discuss the merits of ageing gracefully. Some are more positive, gushing about how good they look for their age, and how brave they are for daring to present themselves in a manner reserved for the young.

It’s an unfortunate reality that we live in a world where women are forced to compare themselves to unrealistic body standards on a daily basis. It’s been that way since our great-grandmothers were little girls. The jury is still out on whether or not we should have to live in a world that promotes unattainable goals, and the true impact on women and girls (and increasingly, men and boys). But body image pressure aside, the fact that these women are not in their 20s or 30s need not be part of the discussion.


When I was younger, like many of us, I felt intimidated by overtly attractive women my age. These days, they make me feel empowered. Here’s why.

As women age, many grapple with whether they’re 'too old' for aspects of life that, as young women, they took for granted. Whether their skirt is too short, or their jeans too tight (or too baggy). Is their make up too heavy (or too light), their outfit too trendy? Are they too old for that two-piece, or those stilettos, or that hairstyle?

It doesn’t stop with fashion. Should we play beach cricket without a coverup, or dance fiercely until 2am? Should we take art lessons, enrol in university, or wear workout gear to the shops? Are we talking too much, laughing too loud, are we taking up too much space?

Women like Beckinsale, who aren't afraid to be their true selves, are a physical reminder that age doesn't have to define us.


"Age is irrelevant and many celebs are proving that, [but] age is the easiest target when presented with a secure woman who isn’t afraid to challenge the norm," says mental health expert and growth coach Tracey Horton.

"It is always hard to unlearn what the last generation taught us but it is incumbent on us to always move forward from where they left off — that is the perfection of human growth."

Ironically, I was most intimidated by hot celebrities during my own physical peak. Throughout my teens and my 20s, I’d happily don a midriff top and a miniskirt, but I was constantly comparing myself to girls and women I perceived as more attractive. I wanted to be taller, have bigger boobs. I wanted blue eyes, and a smaller butt (how times have changed).


These days, you won’t find me prancing around the beach in a string bikini. And global pressure to look flawless and ageless is stronger than ever, thanks to the internet, cosmetic procedures and filters. But as I age, I’m much more likely to celebrate when I see a celebrity over 40 strut their stuff, and look amazing doing it, than question my own worth.


That doesn’t mean I don’t experience the same pressures all women face to look a certain way and meet those unattainable standards, but honestly, there’s some solace in knowing the near-perfect women I’m being forced to compare myself to are, at the very least, my own age – or older! That while I (still) don’t look like the women on television or the internet, at least I don’t have to add ‘my age’ to my list of perceived shortcomings.

"Change occurs because of age every day to every person, it’s just a fact. We now live in the most informed and educated time of history, so the traditional changes we saw in previous generations are definitely being challenged," says Tracey. 

"Ageing isn’t given to everyone – the longer I live, the more I see the privilege of being alive. So, I say, wear what you want and be proud of who you are. We don’t lose the right to be an individual as we grow older; if anything we earn the right."


The key point is this: Many of the women who pose in this way have been doing so all of their lives. It’s part of how they make a living. Why should they stop now?

We wouldn't deem other women too old to be a news presenter, or a politician, or an artist, or a dancer; to be too old to go to the gym or have an active sex life, to make films, explore the ocean or visit space. 

At least, we shouldn’t.

Tackiness versus classiness aside, age should not render women invisible, regardless of how they choose to be seen. We may not want to be overtly sexual, but there’s power in knowing we can be. That we don't have an 'expiry date’ -–physically, intellectually, or spiritually.

So while Pamela Anderson’s augmented breasts and platinum hair, or Cindy Crawford’s natural perfection may have once prompted the odd bout of envy-induced bitterness, these days, I’m ready to high-five women of all ages, taking up space, how they want, when they want.

Feature image: Instagram/@katebeckinsale