Warning: This post contains erotic imagery and may not be suitable for work environments.
Sometimes, to be a woman over 50 is to
feel invisible. It’s walking into a bar or restaurant and no longer being on the receiving end of an admiring glance. It’s feeling like people on the street are looking past you, as if you aren’t even there. Ask a middle-aged woman, and she might say these slights have whittled away at her self-confidence, tricking her into believing the best years are behind her.
We live in a culture that often equates beauty and energy with youth. But we’d like to turn that way of thinking on its head. We believe women can be smart and sassy, beautiful and confident ― and that they can continue to shake things up in the world around them ― whether they’re 50 or 75 or 100.
With that idea in mind, Huff/Post50 photographed 11 very sexy women between the ages of 48 and 67. A few are cancer survivors. A few are grandmothers. A few are single and a few are married. But what they all have in common is that not one is a shrinking violet. They feel better about themselves today than they ever have. We asked each woman to wear whatever makes them feel sexy, and to talk about what being sexy means to them now compared to when they were, say, 21. The resulting photos are stunning ― and entirely un-retouched.
Sheryl Roberts, 48 -- "I know I am perfectly imperfect, flaws and all."
"When I was in my 20s and modeling, I was insecure and a follower. I had no identity. I wore whatever was trendy, did what other girls my age did and really tried to be well liked. I had no concept of my own power or sexuality. The biggest difference between the girl I was at 20 and the woman I am now at 48, is now I really could care less about what people that don't know me think about me. Other people's perception is not my reality. I don't want to blend and fit in. That is why I love selling vintage through my business IndigoStyle Vintage. It is the ultimate in personal style and expression. Sexiness exudes from my confidence, smile and acceptance of myself. Not being fearful of exploring, I know I am perfectly imperfect, flaws and all."
More Anne Rosenberg, 59 --- "For me now, sexy is alluring and creative."
"So maybe as a child of the 1960s I should have been more, well, of a hippie ... but somehow I never got that memo. I was focused on academics and the rest of my time was filled with riding my horse and doing barn work. My standard attire was a flannel shirt, overalls and boots. It seemed as though sexuality was for others. I was sort of a 'neuter' and whatever feelings burned deep within had to stay there. And now I chuckle to myself to realize that at 20, when the world would have been comfortable with me being sexual and sexy, I was closeted, and now when the world is having a hard time with sexy older women I am blossoming. For me now, sexy is alluring and creative. It is amazing."
More Mary Ann Holand, 58 -- "No one but me dictates my sexiness."
"I don't think women truly appreciate their beauty and sexiness until they are older. After turning 50 I felt much sexier than I did in my 20s. In my 20s, I compared myself to others and the standards fashion and beauty magazines dictated. That's a lot of pressure! With maturity comes confidence and the knowledge that our brain is our sexiest organ, not our body! No one but me dictates my sexiness. The journey in getting here shaped how I feel. I am a wife, mother, grandmother and breast cancer survivor (including a mastectomy). This self-awareness of being sexy in my 50s is a gift and one I will cherish in every decade going forward! Wheeeeee -- I'm free to be me!!!"
More Story continues Shannon Bradley-Colleary, 50 -- "I just say 'yes' more."
"I've found, after 50, that I just say 'yes' more and this makes me feel beautiful, vibrant, sexy and alive. 'Do you want to help in Syrian Refugee Camps in Lesvos, Greece?'
Yes. 'Do you want to take an introductory pole dancing class?' Yes. 'Do you want to have a blind date with your own husband where you pretend to be strangers?' Sign me up! In my 20s I worried I wasn't smart enough, curvy enough, sexy enough to say 'yes' to all the things I wanted to try. (I also felt I should've been better at orgasms. I was pretty sure I was getting a 'C-' in orgasms.) At 50, I just don't have the time or energy for that nonsense. I take it all as it comes, so to speak. 'Can you look in the mirror and love what you see, just for today?' Yes. And thank you." More Barbara Rabin, 67 -- "I'm so much stronger now. And strength is sexy."
"Sexy is self-confidence. It's being comfortable in your own skin. It's looking in the mirror and liking what I see. Someone once told me that older women can't have long hair. And most women don't at my age. But I like long and flowing hair and, to me, it's sexy. You must have a feeling that says 'I like what I see and I'm doing great.' When I was in my 20s, I was all about my career. Now I've lost my husband and had cancer. I'm so much stronger now. And strength is sexy."
More Pamela Madsen, 52 -- "Sexuality has become my friend." "When I was in my 20s,
I wanted to be sexually invisible because I didn't trust my own relationship with my body. I was scared to be seen. Now that I am in my 50s, I dare you not to look! I'm not frightened of being seen as sexy anymore, because sexy has gone from fear to empowerment and delight! In my 50s I trust my own 'yes' and my own 'no.' It may have taken a few decades, but now my sexuality has become my friend and I love dancing with it."
More Sandra LaMorgese, 59 -- "I can now focus on what makes me feel happy."
"When I was in my 20s, my sexuality was all about image. I had a clear idea of what a sexy woman would do, say, look, and feel, and I spent so much of my energy trying to project that image to others. But now, in my 50s, I have a whole different perspective; namely, I don't feel like I need to act likable and sexy and desirable and free because I know that I already am all of those things. Romantic and sexual partners come and go. It's just how life works. What stays constant, though, is me, which means that my sexuality, my identity, and my sense of self-worth and belonging need to come from inside me first. Realizing this allowed me to let go of so much anxiety about my sexuality because I no longer needed to worry about all the unknown variables that other people brought into the equation. Instead, I can now focus on what makes me feel happy, whole, and loving, and when I find other people who are attracted to these positive qualities, it leads to really fun and life-affirming experiences."
More April Johnson, 58 -- "Being sexy now in my 50s is a feeling."
"Beautiful to me means being attractive -- and what makes folks attractive? Being caring, loving, good, considerate. These things create an attraction which makes your inner beauty show as outer beauty. In my 20s, being sexy was dressing a certain way to attract the opposite sex and was about what I thought they thought was sexy. Being sexy now in my 50s is a feeling ... not the clothes I wear. The clothes don’t make me. I make the clothes. It’s me feeling great about me! Me feeling sexy is to please me and make me happy. Happiness rubs off on others! What a great way to spread happiness in the world!"
More Robin Hoffman, 50 -- "Bodies are beautiful, but what's glowing within is so much more."
"Sexy at 21 versus sexy at 50, for me, is still a journey. I’ve moved solidly from ‘how does my butt look’ in acid-washed jeans to black yoga pants, but I’m still discovering it’s more to do with where I am than whether that tousle-haired rugby player from English Lit will notice me Friday night. While I wish I was more consistently in this place, I have found my GPS. It’s an inner core that either radiates strength and love or it’s a dark cylinder that magnifies every belly bulge, every criticism. To me, sexy at 50 is peeling those shades back and blasting the light we all have. It’s a celebration of the beauty of spirit versus the celebration of butts and boobs. Bodies are beautiful, but what’s glowing within is so much more."
More Felicia Gomes-Gregory, 50 -- "Today at 50, sexy is about my nurturing my inner beauty."
"When I was 25, being sexy was a learning phase. My ideas were defined by outside influences (magazines/books/tv), men, and mostly, the 'village of women' who raised me, especially my mother. I was always taught that you could be a lady and 'sexy' with your clothes on. Today at 50, sexy is about my nurturing my inner beauty in addition to cultivating the outer beauty. When a woman is empowered both spiritually and physically, is confident, and truly knows her self-worth and loves others around her, being and feeling sexy is easy! I am approaching my 50s as a new journey in my life in which the four most important things to me now are to 'live, love, dance and have faith' into the next decade!"
More Constance Boardman, 57 -- "Feeling sexy now is a lot less about your body."
"Feeling sexy now is a lot less about your body. All those silly things you worried about when you were young -- things related to looks -- are indeed just silly. For awhile there, in my early 50s, it was hard for me to feel sexy. The changes in your body hit you all of a sudden. But now I know that sex is actually fun and that you shouldn't worry about all the minutiae of what you look like. It has been an adjustment to be OK with the fact that my body may never be the same as it used to be. But I'm sort of over all that now."
(Photo: Damon Dahlen/Huffington Post)
For more images from the photo shoots click through our gallery of outtakes!
Sandra LaMorgese Mary Ann Holand Anne Rosenberg Anne Rosenberg Anne Rosenberg Anne Rosenberg Anne Rosenberg Anne Rosenberg Anne Rosenberg Mary Ann Holand Mary Ann Holand Mary Ann Holand Mary Ann Holand Mary Ann Holand Mary Ann Holand Mary Ann Holand Mary Ann Holand Mary Ann Holand Sandra LaMorgese Sandra LaMorgese Sheryl Roberts Sheryl Roberts Sheryl Roberts Barbara Rabin Barbara Rabin Felicia Gomes Gregory Felicia Gomes Gregory Felicia Gomes Gregory Felicia Gomes Gregory Felicia Gomes Gregory Pamela Madsen Pamela Madsen Pamela Madsen Pamela Madsen Pamela Madsen Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today. This article originally appeared on HuffPost.