What is it with women of a certain age wanting to take their clobber off?
Standing in the checkout aisle at the supermarket a couple of days ago, I was confronted by the sight of Robyn Malcolm – Cheryl West in Outrageous Fortune – coyly posing naked on the cover of Next magazine.
A flick through the magazine revealed several other women in the buff, including – for heaven’s sake – the editor. All very discreet and tasteful, of course, but still …
This wholesale shedding of clothes was justified on the pretext that women should be proud of their bodies. The editor wrote that it was all about “celebrating the female form in all its shapes and sizes”. I have no quarrel with that, but I can’t help wondering whether it really requires women to get their kit off just to prove their point.
I’ll go further and express the sneaking suspicion that this is simply a new form of exhibitionism. It started with middle-aged and even elderly women posing naked for fundraising calendars, but it seems to have stepped up a few notches. It goes hand-in-hand with the emergence of the “sexy” mature woman, as personified by Helen Mirren and Nigella Lawson (and in New Zealand by Malcolm, who's in her mid-40s).
Now I’d be the last to deny older women the right to be sexy, but does it necessitate stripping off for a magazine cover, a la Ms Malcolm? At the risk of sounding old-fogeyish, it strikes me as … well, undignified. But then I’m just a bloke. What would I know?
And before anyone tries to pins that hackneyed “sexist” label on me, I should add that I'd feel exactly the same about magazine shots showing naked men of a certain age. Some things are simply better kept concealed.