Before I tell you anything more about the topic of this blog post, please watch the video “Ageless” below:

 

 

Done?

  • How did you react to the video during the first 35 seconds, when the message seemed to be simply that we can feel sexy in older bodies?
  • How did you react when you learned that the women in the video were all living with urinary incontinence?
  • What were your thoughts and feelings when the video ended?

I’ll tell you my response to all three questions: joyful. I love it when senior sexuality is celebrated, especially when the changes and challenges are normalized, accepted, and embraced. I love seeing senior women portrayed as sexy and confident.

Did that change when I realized that these women all had their “trickle of joy” or “sneeze wee” as part of their daily lives? Nope.

TENA, a global brand specializing in bladder incontinence solutions, came to my attention with this advertising campaign for women. Instead of using the video to promote their incontinence products directly, TENA wanted to increase awareness and acceptance of the sexuality of older women — even if they leak urine.

Our intention with this film is to acknowledge that many women do live with incontinence (as many as 1 in 3) and to give women the confidence to talk about it, to seek advice, and to know that they can continue living their lives as they want to. This campaign was inspired by speaking to real women and the stories they had to tell about their sexual experiences while having incontinence.

Not everyone feels so accepting. At the time of this writing, “Ageless/TENA” has 1,705,102  views, 132 “likes,” and 208 “dislikes.”  Reactions in the 45 comments range from “Great ad! Love it!” to “nauseating” and “cringe worthy.” Some of the comment writers are quite upset and express themselves vehemently (and not always grammatically):

  • Remove this ad! Its DISGUSTING!
  • I thought the Always ad was one of the worst I had ever seen then I seen this Tena ad. It is not “completely normal” to “Whoosh” nor is there anything sexy about being incontinent so please stop trying to convince women that there is just to sell your products. It’s patronising condescending & a lie!
  • I AM target market but this utterly alienates me. I will now go out of my way not to buy Tena.

Others are filled with positivity:

  • Makes me want to be stunning and brave too.
  • What’s to dislike about this? Women don’t stop being sexual entities just because they get older, and incontinence is no respecter of firm skin or a pretty face. I like this ❤️
  • I know it’s just an advert to sell a product, but I find this refreshing, honest and beautiful.  It saddens me the number of women that feel they are the wrong age, shape or size, I hope this and other adverts like it will change perceptions in time.
  • This add is so beautiful and so intimate, that I feel privileged to have been “let in”. I love how these beautiful women of different ages, shapes, sizes and colours, with imperfect bodies, allow themselves to be vulnerable in public to encourage women out there to love themselves and live fully, even when they don’t match those unachievable beauty standards promoted by media. Their beauty radiates so warm and so strong that it makes me happy inside!

When I first viewed this video in March 2020, I commented,

I’d like to expand on that.

Most seniors and elders encounter sexual challenges. Aching joints, dry vagina, unreliable erections, decreased sensation, elusive orgasms, or a combination of these are common. You’ll find plenty of information about how to deal with these issues and remain sexy in my books, articles, and webinars. But one common concern that I’ve never addressed before is urinary incontinence.

Urinary incontinence can affect sexual enjoyment. You may avoid sex out of embarrassment, shame, self-image, anxiety. Feeling self-affirming, and sex-positive can make the difference between enjoying sex and avoiding sex. Let’s choose the former.

Worn-out stereotypes simply don’t describe how women over 50 are living their lives now. Thanks to thousands of women who shared their stories with us, it’s clear they are enjoying enriched, fulfilling experiences including sex. Incontinence doesn’t change this.

– From TENA

 

 

TENA’s campaign drew media attention, not always positive. DailyMail.com published an article titled “Women my age should not feel pressure to be sexy” by Sarah Vine, age 52, including these sentiments:

I don’t doubt the good intentions. But what if you’re not comfortable with your ageing body; what if you don’t look at yourself in the mirror and see a glorious goddess but a baggy old bag; what if you don’t find sex as pleasing as it once was?

Now your own lack of self-esteem is just something else to feel inadequate about, your lack of desire yet another example of how you’re letting the side down by being insufficiently thrilled at the thought of stuffing your crinkly cleavage into some underwiring or hauling your sagging derriere into a pair of fishnet tights.

…In this age of over-sharing, there are some conversations that should remain private. And this is one of them.

I guess Sarah Vine would consider me one of the over-sharers. I think that keeping conversations about sex and aging private — meaning not having these conversations at all! — reinforces our invisibility as sexual beings and stops us from finding solutions and work-arounds.

Society would rather not see us as vibrant sexual creatures, whether because of pee leaks or just because we’re old. We all experience sexual setbacks, that’s part of getting old(er). But making information easily available will help us overcome those problems, rather than letting the problems limit us. I vote for keeping the conversation open, loud, and frequent!

 

 

Your opinion? Please post your thoughtful comments. Respect each other, please, even if you disagree with someone’s point of view (including mine).

(For more information about urinary incontinence, see https://www.tena.co.uk/women/about-incontinence/.)

 

14 Comments

  1. Jeffrey on August 24, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    There’s no pleasure in the world as delicious as when a senior woman rediscovers her sexuality.It is such a joy to witness and behold.

    • GH on September 28, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      I totally agree!

  2. Sheila Kuhn on July 31, 2020 at 9:21 am

    I’m 62, every morning *Weather permitting, I put on my athletic shoes and I walk across the beautiful misty mountains that surround our little town. I rise before dawn in order to arrive on time to watch the glory of these mid-summer sunrises. I love that now that I’m retired, I have the time for serious body, mind, and my spirit work. Sometimes, I will walk four miles before breakfast. Keeping active makes me feel so alive! On my walks, I always stop to skip a bit, skipping is like flying! My two foot long silver hair flies on the wind and an automatic smile of joy finds it’s way to my face.
    I am desperately in love with the man I married 38 years ago. Our romance, our sex, and our friendship is as fresh and as energetic as ever. This is because we make our relationship a priority now, the kids are grown and it’s beautiful just being together, at home, alone. Honestly, my orgasms have never been stronger, and, the little pockets of intimacy throughout the day are my lifeforce now! We’re taking the time to enjoy every step in the pursuit of our mutual pleasures, we have sex during the day now, around 2 in the afternoon is perfect for us, we’re both much more energetic this way. The truth is, life just gets more beautiful when you allow yourself to never, ever, give up the magical parts of your life. Thanks for this article, it’s so very important to hold onto our human sexuality, sensuality, and the wonders of being all grown up and capable of living in the moment for perhaps the very first time, ever! P.S…The ad may not be for everyone, but, I think it’s beautiful. Thank You.

    • Joan Price on August 1, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      “The truth is, life just gets more beautiful when you allow yourself to never, ever, give up the magical parts of your life. ” What a beautiful, life-affirming attitude, Sheila. Thank you for sharing it here.

  3. Amy on July 14, 2020 at 12:10 am

    Such an amazing story Joan, even though I’m much younger this opened my eyes on some things that are waiting for me in 20 – 30 years. Will try to remember what’s important and how to deal with it. Thank you so much for sharing. Amy

  4. Laura on June 20, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    So delighted to have found your blog Joan. And this lovely ad. I am 72 and so very interested in sexuality and sensuality. I feel it’s such a healing particularly as we age. I’ve worked all my life to embrace my body and natural eroticism and have never felt more liberated and desiring of that in my life as I experience it now. I hope as myths and barriers and stereotypes of all kinds are being shattered that ageism whatever it’s form also comes falling down. Bravo Joan Price and thank you for being an early pioneer in opening this space for all of us♥️

    • Jeffrey on August 24, 2020 at 2:44 pm

      I’m so delighted you feel that way about yourself. When I was 28 curiosity got the best of me and I ended up in bed with a very youthful 77 y/o woman. Her sexual response surprised the heck out of me. Orgasm after orgasm after etc.etc. Now at 47 and plenty of partners later I still rank her tops in sexiness and I regret not continuing our sex play …

  5. Thomas Stalin on June 18, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    You need to feel comfortable in your aged body and open up to the feeling of being sexy. Its up to your brain not your wrinkels. You can enjoy sex until you pass away though you need to develop new skills. Watch this wideo. Many plus fithty have more time for their love and sex relationship and have a better sex life than many in the years of carrer and bringing up a family. Your grown up children may laugh at you but you have to teach them that sex is not over is more with age. Something to look forward to.

    I would have liked to see a film like this from a mans perspective, that is slightly different though similar.

    Men also need to urinate every hour and thats is a problem that I need to take into consideration. Men that has had prostate surgery also could become incontinent…………….

    I shared this in my open group on FB Embracing love and aging life

  6. DARLA SEAGRAVES on June 13, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    I sure needed to read and see this today. I am 62 and have been struggling with some incont for several years. I have been single for years and fearful to pursue a relationship esp with that problem. The problem is I have always enjoyed sex. I will continue gathering information but I am thankful to see I am not the only one.

    • Joan Price on June 13, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      I’m so glad that this post was helpful to you, Darla. When you decide to pursue a relationship, perhaps you could show a potential partner this post to start a meaningful conversation. Our partners have their issues, too, and it might feel freeing to exchange this information.

  7. Pamela on May 21, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Getting old is a privilege! Preferable to the alternative! I do struggle to accept how my body has aged despite doing all I can to preserve its youthfulness Mother Nature had other plans I still feel desire .i am sensous , I want to be loved for being me and my body accepted as part of who I am therefore videos like this are welcome and re assuring More please!

  8. Dave 81 on May 21, 2020 at 4:17 am

    What a beautiful and thought provoking video. I t is so nice to see ‘ older ‘ serene women accepting
    the fact that we age and aren’t flawless. Pimples…warts…wrinkles are all part of a beautiful package
    that makes aging women….and us men as well….such wonderful people. Did I mention the eyes ?/
    Wisdom and knowledge in their depths. What a great tribute.

    • Agnes Mulholland on May 22, 2020 at 11:56 am

      “I agree with Dave 81’s comments. However, we must remember what is unseen, what
      lives behind those eyes,—our love of life, our respect and love for others, our life experiences, and
      memories.”
      I firmly believe that the eyes are the windows to our soul.

  9. Rae Padilla Francoeur on May 20, 2020 at 5:44 am

    Thanks for this thoughtful commentary, Joan. As we age, the media messages about our bodies and us in general become even more harsh, especially for women. When I’m in my editor or writer mode, I caution writers not to succumb to stereotypical descriptions of (women’s) bodies like chicken neck or breasts that reside in one’s lap or thighs like lumpy pudding. You’ve seen plenty of this. We internalize these descriptions, come to believe them, repeat them and feel shamed by them. When we do this, we essentially give permission to others to continue what is really a deep and piercing cruelty. Every time you mock yourself out loud, even in jest, you perpetuate the problem. And, no doubt, you may well limit the pleasures your body offers you. Please just stop and look again at who you are and all the reasons you are adapting in powerful and elegant ways.

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