Madeline Hubbard ‘19
Is there such a thing as “The Last F—able Day”? Sports Illustrated recently made a splash when they announced the 2017 cover of their annual Swimsuit Edition. Christie Brinkley, 63, and her two adult daughters, Alexa Joel, 31, and Sailor Cook, 18, grace the cover of the issue in characteristically skimpy swim attire. Characteristically, the photo created immediate buzz and controversy. “Was Christie too old to be on the cover?” “How much work has she had done, anyway?” “Why is she trying to reclaim her lost fame by exploiting her children?” Many people feel that Brinkley is decidedly past the age of acceptability for a swimsuit model. Still others claim that it is a bold move and applaud the decision to celebrate women and sexiness at every age. While neither side can claim victory, our society certainly values youth as a hallmark of beauty.
Amy Schumer’s video entitled, “The Last F—able Day,” depicts women celebrating the day before “the media decides when you finally reach the point where you’re not believably f—able anymore.” They describe how Hollywood slowly pushes them out of the public eye and how men are never told they are too old for TV. Brinkley, recognizing the barriers that come with aging, assumed she was done at age 30 and was shocked to be doing a shoot at age 63. Brinkley told media sources that she hoped that her return to the magazine could fire up a dialogue about ageism in the industry. She said, “Women feel very limited by their numbers. On a personal level, I thought, if I can pull this off, I think it will help redefine those numbers and remove some of the fear of aging.”
Her daughter Cook, was excited to participate with some modeling experience under her belt. She described the swimsuit shoot experience as “empowering and liberating.” Joel however, was more hesitant to participate and needed convincing to try it out. She has had mental health issues in the past and is trying to work through being from such a talented and famous family. For Brinkley, it was an opportunity to do one more shoot and share it with her girls. Still, concerns remain that Brinkley is presenting herself in that way perpetuates the media standard that women are only worth their sex appeal.
While that may be one opinion, Brinkley certainly puts a lot of effort into staying fit, in addition to other methods of maintaining her appearance. Many applaud her for breaking the taboo on older women being portrayed as sexy in the media. Brinkley has certainly started a conversation about ageism in her line of work. At 63, she is looking good and feeling good, and her confidence is inspiring. So, maybe the lesson here is if you’ve got it, flaunt it. As a model, Brinkley’s job has been to pose for various advertisements and to be a sex symbol for these companies. When it comes to looking good, there is no expiration date on sex appeal.