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Timeless beauty: Dame Helen Mirren on holiday in Puglia in that red bikini last week. That picture of Dame Helen Mirren in her red bikini holidaying in Puglia has left men under 40 with a bit of a dilemma. Women might have been discussing the merits of the bikini, the chutzpah of a year-old woman photographed so unselfconsciously in the almost-altogether and, of course, her toned body particularly that flat stomach.
But men have been pondering just one simple thing: 'Is she really desirable at 62? So, there we have it. The Dame Helen bikini shot represents a ificant benchmark; young men now feel it's OK to be attracted to a woman of ly it was Charlotte Rampling, followed - if you were feeling brave enough - by Grace Jones. Dame Helen has also raised the issue of how old is too old to think a women is sexy. And it's a thorny one. Many men would consider Debbie Harry, 63, a serious rival to Dame Helen, but I noticed the other day that 'Blondie' has changed the name of her official website to www.
It's the little things. Linda Evans, 65, the actress who played Krystle Carrington in Dynasty, is Helen mirren bikini young a contender but, despite remaining extremely attractive, has had too much obvious work done. There are some less enlightened men who can't muster any enthusiasm beyond Greta Scacchi, 48, Jerry Hall, 52, and Dr Condoleezza Rice, The name Hillary Clinton, 60, sometimes crops up, but I'm not so sure.
Maybe it's the funny little cheeks, and the fact that she might have you killed if you made a pass at her. There's a minority who will challenge the new benchmark and suggest it should be higher. Looking good ma'am: Dame Helen strikes a racy pose at the age of 24 in and, right, playing the title role in the Golden Globe nominated film The Queen. It is well known, for example, that actor Colin Farrell, then 28, made a play for Dame Eileen Atkins when she was Several polls after this encounter suggested that while Dame Eileen has undoubted charms, the majority of younger men could not quite see themselves 'going there'.
Stunner: Jerry Hall, 52, is a popular choice for the attractive older woman.
Of course, there have always been older women who young men have harboured lustful thoughts for - Anne Bancroft playing Mrs Robinson in The Graduate being the most celebrated example although this is a little misleading given that Bancroft was only 36 when she played the role. Joan Collins, 75, is a tricky one. Yet she is happily married to her fifth husband Percy Gibson, 42, and they are rumoured to enjoy a more than enthusiastic sex life. On being asked if she considered the age difference a serious concern, Joan Collins said: 'If he dies, he dies.
Women will generally scoff at the fact that men are viewing Dame Helen as an object of desire just because of a few bikini shots. The same women will almost certainly drone on about George Clooney, 47, being 'dishy'.
Still, we will be regarded as being adolescent. We should be honouring Dame Helen's self-assuredness and admiring her brilliance as an actress.
We do, and we'd be more than happy to discuss that over breakfast. Anyway, all the women who belittle our interest will wish they looked like her when they're 62 and had men wanting to take them to bed. Some women still have the notion that men should be happy to sleep with a woman of any age, shape or Helen mirren bikini young because inner beauty is the key. This is nonsense, of course, and women are no less lustful when it comes to older men. If anything, they are perhaps more optimistic.
Clooney might be widely regarded as the benchmark older man, but there are those who still look at Clint Eastwood, 78, with a twinkle in their eye. And then there are those who still regard Lucian Freud, 85, with a certain longing. Benchmark: The relatively young George Clooney, 47, is considered to be a model for the attractive older man. Men do not understand the latter. Partly because the artist looks like a pork scratching, and partly because he is a male equivalent of a loose woman. Whether this lust for Lucian would still stand up if the newspapers pictured him coming out of the sea in Puglia wearing a tiny pair of red Speedos remains to be seen.
Essentially, that picture of Mirren should inspire a lot more than just light-hearted titillation. Not only has it given men renewed interest in more mature women, but it will hopefully encourage us all - men included - not to give up hope as we get older.
Two swimwear shots stick in the memory from recent times: one was Keira Knightley, 23, in a white costume in the film Atonement, and the other is Dame Helen. In part, because with Knightley most of us have seen more meat on a butcher's pencil, and because Mirren just has that look of a woman who really enjoys her body.
But a women friend I discussed this with said: 'Yes, that's all fine - but you men are only lusting after the body and the bikini, not the person. Mulling this over later, I looked Dame Helen up on the internet and a picture of her playing the Queen appeared on my computer. She was wearing a stiff tweed jacket, a rather frumpy pair of shoes and a blouse with all the allure of a tired curtain. I looked at the photograph for a few moments and considered my friend's comment.
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At 69, Helen Mirren looks chic in a swimsuit