Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

by Patricia Yarberry Allen, MD

Following the 2004 release of “Something’s Gotta Give,” Diane Keaton became the most-talked-about woman over 50.

In the film, Keaton’s character, a successful playwright, becomes romantically involved with two men: a handsome doctor, played by the much younger Keanu Reeves (almost 20 years her junior), and an aged music industry executive, played by Jack Nicholson.

The on-screen relationships went much further than depicting tenderness and friendship – typical romantic movie fare for an actress in her 50s. This time around, Keaton and Nicholson were shown naked and in bed for the purpose of having really hot sex.

“Something’s Gotta Give” is credited with starting a public awareness campaign about what many of us already knew: older women are extraordinarily sexy, desirable and seductive.

Savvy television executives suddenly realized that older women have great traction with audiences.  Katherine Willow, one of the lead characters on the hugely successful show “CSI: Las Vegas” (my favorite “CSI”) is played by Marg Helgenberger, who is 48.

Kyra Sedgwick, who stars in the big hit “The Closer” is 41 and plays the most complicated character. She is a big deal in the man’s world of detective work, the object of unending speculation and secret adulation from her colleagues.

The “over-40 women can be really hot” parade was moving along nicely. Even marketing and advertising has joined with corporate America to use “no longer young” women like Andie MacDowell, 48, who is fabulous in the L’Oreal advertising campaigns for their hair color products.

Then in August of this year Nora Ephron came out with her book, “I feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.” The book’s message is that getting old is a bitch. Your eyesight goes, you look awful. Aging women have to spend all their time on maintenance with assistance from an army of dermatologists, plastic surgeons, hair colorists and personal trainers in order to just continue their march toward older age and death.

She intimates that women who feel that they are sexy and attractive as they age are delusional. Such pessimism, delivered with much humor and wit, sells lots of books, but it is hardly reflective of the zeitgeist.

In the 21st century, Diane Keaton looks fab nude in her 50s. And now at age 60 she is the face of  L’Oreal’s Age Perfect line of facial creams and makeup.

When news that Keaton was about to become a model was released earlier this year, Carol Hamilton, president of L’Oreal Paris, said, “Diane has been a role model and a trendsetter for over three decades, and we feel that she is the perfect example to show that women can be beautiful, full of vitality and incredibly successful in every stage of their lives. She epitomizes what American women want. She’s a natural beauty. Nothing artificial. And she’s comfortable with who she is.”

Keaton represented this forward-thinking cosmetics company in person at the National Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation Gala in New York on Nov. 8. She wore a skin-tight long black jersey dress, and she was warm and accessible in her funny speech about her late-life career as a model. She is the very ideal of all that a woman could ever hope to be.

Nora, buy L’Oreal and forget your neck.

Patricia Yarberry Allen is an obstetrician and gynecologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital and is on the board of Women’s Voices for Change.

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  • les November 27, 2006 at 7:52 am

    really enjoyed reading this post and couldn’t agree more. after the movie came out i heard alot of people say that the vital love/sex life of the diane keaton character was just a hollywood invention and such things do not happen to over 50 women in real life. “I havent had a date in 3 years, and she has two hot guys, now way”, said my over 50 friends.
    well, i disagree, any woman can have the love life she wants if she will only pursue it. by pursue it i mean dating on the internet. the internet dating sites like have totally revolutionized the dating scene for women in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s—perhaps 90’s too! i am 53 years old and i have more dates than i have time to schedule, and the ratio of men to women on internet dating sites is about 4 to 1. it is a quick and easy way to meet lots of men and expand your horizons. i think many women of our age are stuck in old “ladylike” sterotypes that “love is meant to happen when you least expect it” or, “love will happen when it’s meant to happen”.
    so we are sitting around passively waiting to be found instead of getting out there and finding our own happiness. happy dating ladies! try, jdate, rightstuff dating, (do not do eharmony its a rip off and very few men on it) warning you dont have to be a beauty to be successful on internet dating but its advisable to have a trim figure. the men seem to care about this. so if you have some pounds to loose, try dr. pat allens diet.

  • Leah November 21, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    So much of the negative attitude toward growing older — as exemplified by Ephron — is really just an unwillingness to see the possibilities. At any stage in life, you can focus on the limitations. But why?
    Thanks for your own great attitude here. Can’t wait to hear more!