Thanks in large part to Kim Kardashian and the rest of her intrepid family, nude photos are not nearly so scandalous or rare as they used to be. And yet — we’re a long way away from women being able to rejoice in their naked bodies without judgment, particularly if the woman in question dares to be anything other than 20-years-old and a size zero. Heck, even those women can’t catch a break: If you show off your naked body when you’re young and conventionally attractive, you’re criticized as promiscuous and attention-seeking; if you pose nude when you’re over 40 (or fat, for that matter), you’re shamed outright and told to cover up, to show some decency.
Luckily, our current crop of celebs have been fighting back hard against the idea that you should have to look one specific way in order to feel good about showing off your body, and they’re putting their own figures on the front lines of Instagram trolls and outdated critics to prove just how messed up it is to think that 19-year-old models should be encouraged to strip down for the camera while 55-year-old models should be hiding their features. Paulina Porizkova, who frequently speaks out on Instagram about navigating her changing appearance as a former supermodel in her 50s, has posed nude countless times to prove how much beauty she has to offer in this iteration of herself, and to share commentary on how we’ve treated nudity in media for so long.
“I post bikini and nude photos because I finally feel good in my skin,” she wrote below one nude November post. “I don’t do this for compliments or likes. (Although they are very nice indeed). I’m doing it because you see thousands of images of younger women in the same situations. That’s what you’re used to seeing. No one tells them to put their clothes on. By what standard is it ok to ogle a nude teen, but not a mature woman?”
“I have done the same sort of photos since I was fifteen. Back then, I couldn’t be proud of who I was because I didn’t yet know who I was,” she continued. “An older woman is allowed wisdom, humor, patience — but not sensuality. Not sexiness. This is a major societal taboo which is precisely why I post what I post. I may be 56, but I’m as fully a woman as I was thirty years ago, in fact, I’d argue: more so.”
Porizkova’s logic makes perfect sense to us: a society that encourages teenagers to sexualize themselves while denying women in their 50s the same right is not a world we want to continue to live in, on either end of the spectrum. And it seems this logic is starting to catch on — when Jennifer Aniston posed naked for the cover of GQ in 2008, it was a big deal that a 40-year-old woman would show herself so fully. But nearly 15 years later, we’re seeing more and more celebrity women over 40 take the plunge and share their own nudes, whether they’re posing for magazine covers or sharing home-made snaps to Instagram. These photos don’t just take a stand against our ageist, sexist culture, but prove a very important point: Women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond are sensual, beautiful, and highly, highly appealing to look at naked. And it’s about time we started appreciating them as such.
Paulina Porizkova, Kim Kardashian, and Jennifer Aniston are just the tip of the iceberg — read on for more women who posed nude over the age of 40 and see how their fabulous photos turned out.
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