Sometimes I wonder whether being sexually objectified is better than being invisible.
I saw a video on my Facebook feed depicting women who were modelling naked for a national magazine.
They said things like:
“I’m going to model buck naked!”
“I can’t believe that I’m going to sit in front of the lights and the camera and be photographed with no clothes on.”
“I’m a transgender woman and somebody needs to make transgender women visible.”
All of the women in the clip were young, beautiful examples of what is generally considered to be the kind of woman everyone wants to see naked…including the transgender woman.
The video made me furious.
Where are the women who do not fall into this standard parameter of youth is beauty?
Where are the women like me?
I’m a woman whose body no longer looks like it was cut out of a pattern of new cloth, all the wrinkles and blemishes being too embedded to be ironed out? Where are the women my age half-naked, draped in perfect towelling, softly back lit, and posing in sets that make them look their best sexual, alluring selves?
The world is full of women my age wearing business suits while addressing Congress, or wearing golf skirts while holding the hand of a guy in a Viagra add, or wearing jeans and a t-shirt and a smile while surrounded by her grandchildren, or who are even wearing a designer gown to the opening of the opera while standing over a headline proclaiming how absolutely “young” she looks.
I see plenty of women my age depicted like that; what I don’t see is plenty of women my age who are depicted as sexy.
Where are the 70-year-old women like me?
The 70-year-old women who are real, alive, and who by golly still feel sexy and who by golly still think of themselves as sexy and who have drawers full of garters and stockings and costumes and thong panties and even toys. I want to see my sexual self mirrored in the media and plastered across the covers of magazines.
I don’t want to be invisible.
Nobody thinks of me as sexual, let alone sexy, or provocative, or alluring or erotic or “hot.” No one depicts me that way—or objectifies me in that way. I at least want to have the chance to complain about being objectified.
Let me have the chance and then let me complain about it—if I want to.
Norwegian artist Erwin Olaf, known for his “shocking” photographs, understands. He has taken these pictures of women who look like me—pictures of women who are 70 plus in high heels, in see-through night gowns, in garters, half naked and naked, posing and otherwise strutting their stuff and not in the least bit shy about it. I can relate to these women.
I recognize them.
They are me.
What I can’t relate to is the women in my FB video or even on the covers of magazines in general today. The world can relate to them however because they are the women the world sees.
What the world doesn’t see is women like me.
When I looked Erwin Olaf’s photos, saw women like me who are not only old, but who are beautiful and sexy and old.
When I looked at these pictures I was thrilled beyond belief.
“Finally,” I said. “Finally someone see me.”
Imagine the day when a world class magazine does not put on its cover the picture of a newly transgender woman who happens to look just like all the other women who are on all the other covers of all the other magazines in the world, but is daring enough, courageous enough and honest enough to put on its cover a wrinkled and dimpled and sagging woman like me.
A woman who is beautiful and sexy and old and no longer invisible.