Kelly Ripa recently got ripped a new one (Sorry. Not sorry.) by the Twitterati for having a banging body and showing it off in a bikini on the beach at the advanced age of 47. People saying she’s too old, too thin, too ripped, but mostly, too old to bare her body like that.
She looks great. She appears to feel great. And her husband definitely appreciates seeing her in a bikini. So what’s the problem? Hell, even if she wasn’t thin and fit and “beautiful”, what’s the problem? If she, or anyone else, feels good in a bikini, they should wear one. Why not? The human body is something to be celebrated, not disparaged or vilified.
At least, that’s what my intellectual side says. But in all honesty, I’m turning 48 soon, (Ms. Ripa is just a few months younger than I am.), and with fifty looming on the horizon, I find myself analyzing what’s appropriate for me to wear.
Is that skirt too short? Is that top too young? What about my shorts, how long is long enough? It’s ridiculous, and I know it. Yes, what I wear is how I present myself to the world, but that is my choice—not anyone else’s (except maybe my husband, who has great fashion sense and therefore some veto power. Not to mention he’s the one who has to see me wearing whatever and be seen with me wearing whatever.)
So why am I even thinking about this, instead of wearing what I like and feel good in without giving it a second thought? Because for decades a bunch old white men and thirty-something women have made the rules about what I can and can’t wear in my forties, fifties, and beyond.
Once a woman is past her useful, child-bearing years, God forbid she still dress like she’s a desirable, sexual being. Mini-skirts are a no (unless you’re a rock star, or trying to look cheap and slutty). Bikinis are out. Not to mention shorts that don’t reach at least mid-thigh.
Nope. It’s time to look like a matron or a soccer mom, I guess so you’re not inadvertently fooling anyone into thinking you could still pop out a few babies. Or maybe so you’ll be taken a little more seriously. Except then you fade into the background and everyone says you look old and past your prime. All this while seventy year-old men can get away with jeans, sneakers, a t-shirt and a sport coat like a college student dressed up for a hot date.
The problem for me is, I like wearing all those things. I feel good in them. I think I look good in them and my hubby agrees. Besides, why shouldn’t I wear whatever I damn well please? Why can’t I still look and dress like a beautiful, sexy, vital woman as I age?
And why do I find myself making those judgments about myself and others (even if I do try to catch myself)?
It’s self-limiting and absurd. I’m determined to stop. And I’m not planning on giving up my bikinis, shorts, or miniskirts anytime soon.
What do you think about the Kelly Ripa bikini controversy, and/or how women should dress as they age? When are bikinis or miniskirts a no-no to you?