Today women in their 40s and 50s are looking gorgeous. Much of this can be attributed to changing attitudes to ageing. Continuing the series on the various facets of the urban woman's life.

If you look carefully at pictures in fashion magazines or surf the Internet, you fill find a growing number of advertisements that show a new kind of woman: one with a taut, tight and sporty look. So you say, What's new?

Women in magazines have always looked glamorous and enticing and, as a direct appeal to buying a particular product, spot on. And the younger they are the better they look, very true. But what has changed is the profile of the women. Today that gorgeous creature is in her — believe it or not — 40s!

Here are bodies that look healthy, vital, glowing; in fact there is not a hint of anything anorexic. These bodies are firm rather than thin and the whole image is one of wholesomeness as opposed to starvation. The waif-like creature with jutting bones and a pained expression seems to be a thing of the past.

New movement

There seems to be a new movement. Women in their 40s and 50s have never looked so good. No longer are we still obsessed with the super skinny size zero or the excessively bionic biceps. Now we are talking sporty and strong, having a physique where you can still look fabulous and eat whatever you want at dinner. The most important thing is that these models look just like regular people. Their bodies are attainable. These women are warm, wholesome and real. We look like them too!

The big change is no one is starving oneself any longer. Today, you need to be toned, not too skinny, nothing too extreme. Even being too muscular is not good. The idea is to look healthy and lead a healthy lifestyle. In other words the idea today is to be active but not frantic with worry about one's size. The obsessiveness has been replaced by a much more laidback approach.

Don't get me wrong. Women still want to look fabulous and wear that skimpy outfit but the approach to that goal is much more balanced and sensible. So we no longer hear stories or even condone them. For instance, there is this story about a well-known actor who craved for dessert but could not bring herself to swallow the calorie raising sweetmeats. So she would put the sweet in her mouth and then spit it out just to get a taste!

People are walking much more, running and doing a whole lot of dance routines. Dance workouts are popular and getting more innovative and gyms are mushrooming all over the country. Women are trading in their frenetic sessions on the power plate for more friendly routes to fitness. Marathons are becoming more popular. It's not so much about winning as about taking up the cause and doing your bit in a healthy manner and feeling good about it.

Changing attitude

So how come there is this shift and why? The most obvious reason is the changing attitudes to ageing. Today women look fabulous even at 40, 50 or 60. Realism is another factor. Knowing that age is something one cannot beat, one can nevertheless fight and delay it with the correct attitude. So you take what you have and work on that.

To be fit also means mentally feeling good about oneself. It is an attitude to fitness that works exclusively for you. You decide what you want to be, how you want to do it and then work on it. But you just no longer have to kill yourself to do so! Phew! Thank God!

The writer is a novelist and poet who writes on women's issues and social trends.

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