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Old Babes Turn Heads and Hearts--Editorial

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I don't know about you, but my experience with older women changes as I get older. In fact, it changes on an almost daily basis. What once appeared to me to be stability can now often appear as poignant fragility; that is to say, I used to imagine that once I'd passed through the undulating fun house of adolescence and became "a woman," I would be stable, secure, confident and practically untouchable.

The fact that none of this is true doesn't mean I don't still aspire to it. But take the phenomenon of older babes. I dislike the term "cougar" because it smacks so much to me of a male interpretation of an older woman liking or loving a man younger than her, so allow me to keep calling them "older babes"--those women who are older than 30, 40, or even 50, but are still very much "babes" both in their hearts and often in their appearance.

They can straddle the fence between tasteless attire and reek of insecurity and denial of their entire life's experiences or they can be classy, gorgeous and youthful in their energy and vivaciousness, or anywhere in between. But the phenomenon of older babes is really intriguing because they challenge our assumptions of beauty, youth, sexuality and confidence. I feel a bit sad when I think of the opportunity old babes have to teach and reach younger women and, instead, they waste it on trying to look the way they did at 19.

Older babes call out our need to define our sexual or charismatic appeal based on a male perspective. Since so many heterosexual women grew up comparing themselves to sisters and friends, cousins and then magazine chicks, movie vixens and posters--primarily based on their ability to arouse lust in boys and men--we stop actually checking in to see if we really find these women or indeed ourselves, attractive. We decide that if a man wouldn't find her "hot" than she's just "not." For lesbian or bisexual women, the "hot" factor is similar in some ways; women can be just as discerning and judgmental in their preferences as men.

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I like your idea but the telling is a bit convoluted. Yes, we are all babes, and yes, I believe we are all gorgeous. Yet, to me, your piece appears quite judgemental of other women and their right to just be whatever they want to be..whether it's your definition of 'babe' or theirs.

January 14, 2011 - 1:29am
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