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Does Sex Still Sell at Midlife?

    • 2 posts
    February 24, 2009 3:18 PM EST
    I agree with both Matts. The confidence factor is huge and one doesn`t have to be beautiful to be attractive to others.
    As a middle-aged business owner, I dress to look professional, rather than wear something that would distract from what I was trying to accomplish. Of course, I wouldn`t be caught dead without my lipstick and mascara.
    I believe that we do respond more warmly toward attractive people, especially of the opposite sex.

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    Assisting companies with the creation of effective trade show and event communication

    • 14 posts
    February 17, 2009 7:07 AM EST

    As a television news reporter years ago, I always knew I had to be visually appealing.  Although I wasn’t well endowed in one specific area, my body was very well proportioned for my size and I had that youthful, perky, cute look.  Unfortunately though, as the years passed and I began to mature, my graceful aging became outdated and I was easily replaced by younger, sexier-looking women who could probably never compete on the show Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader. 

    Even though many of us gain more confidence in business and relationships at midlife, the media makes us feel less secure about our image. They imply that if we want to maintain our sex appeal we should consider breast implants or cosmetic surgery to tighten up sagging and flabby skin.   They point to the likes of Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn or Madonna as role models for us. Now, I’m not knocking any of these fellow baby boomer women but not all of us are alike and we shouldn’t be put into a “woman size fits all” generic category.   

    So the question here is, do we still need sex appeal in order to be successful in our businesses at midlife?  Does sex still sell?  As a woman in business, do you feel the need to dress a certain way when meeting a male client to get his attention—or perhaps DISTRACT his attention?  Should we come across as sensuous while also displaying our intelligence?  To what extent does appearance affect our professional success, and can a middle-aged woman really use sex appeal to further her business endeavors? 

    Management Psychologist Ken Siegel was quoted as saying, “You’d be a fool if you didn’t use your looks to your advantage and make the most of what you’ve got.  Don’t pretend it doesn’t matter. It’s a huge part of life in the 21st century.”

    What do you think?

    • 14 posts
    February 19, 2009 4:57 PM EST
    CraigL said...
    "Sex and glitter attract the eye, but the underlying backup of content, product, service, and follow-through make the sale."
     
    One of my former colleagues (who became a successful anchorwoman in Boston) once told me, "What you look like and who you know gets you in the door--but what you know keeps you there."  
    • 14 posts
    February 19, 2009 5:01 PM EST
    Matt said...
    "...one should still always be conscious of their appearance to ensure they aren`t discriminated against based on lack of "attractive qualities".  
     
    What does that mean?  Do we still live in a society where our lack of attractive qualities would keep us from getting a job? 
     
    I think the television news business may be a little different than other businesses where EEO isn`t such a factor.  Why, because being attractive to the eye is what News Directors are looking for and if you turn on the extra charm--you`re in.  Sad--but true.  Almost similar to being an actress in Hollywood.
    • 14 posts
    February 20, 2009 4:56 AM EST

    Nuevolution,

    This topic actually came up in my Women`s Business Group--Boomer Diva Nation.  One of the members said she filled in as a temp on a job and was told by a manager that she was much she dressed older than she looked.  She asked how old he thought she was and he said almost 15 years younger.  So that generated a discussion about sex appeal and what is or is not appropriate. 
    I do believe in "good grooming" for men and women.  I am more inclined to do business with a man who looks like he is well kept than with someone who looks and acts like he just came off of the farm (so to speak).
     
    Men, unfortunately, are not held to the same standards when it comes to appearance at midlife---at least not by other men.
    • 14 posts
    February 25, 2009 3:59 AM EST
    I just wanted to pop back in and let everyone know how much I appreciate the healthy discussion on this topic.  I agreeI believe women who exhuberate self-confidence also display a natural sex appeal with flaunting.  Those women who have to work at being "sexy" probably don`t have much else going for them.
     
    I believe someone said, "use what you have to get what you want" Well, if you use your natural appeal--you can get the world!  I think as we age we do understand that fact.
    • 5 posts
    February 24, 2009 10:24 AM EST
    I agree with Sevenoaks, although I am not a conservative, I believe it is  to one`s advantage to be stylish and tasteful with appearance and not necessarily "sexy."  I used to work for an employment agency years ago, and the counselors spent a lot of time advising interviewees how to dress. From a fashion point of view (I also used to work in high-end Italian fashion) it`s important to know your body type and how to accentuate your features tastefully. First impressions do mean a lot and unfortunately the "cover" or one`s appearance is the first thing that others see and perhaps from where they form their. BUT, I do not believe a women or a man needs to show sex appeal. The whole package is what does it.  A presentable look and smarts makes the sale,but it also keeps the business.
     
    Actually, I think the ability to be articulate goes further than the ability to be sexy. 
    Intelligence is far sexier.
     
    cgengo2/24/2009 6:13 PM

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    Carolina
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    • 5 posts
    December 30, 2012 4:21 AM EST

    Well I am much older than mid age at 63 and my partner is 36 !!!  What  has age got to do with anything. We all have qualities that others don't and vice-versa.

    Whats in the eye of the beholder is different from person to person so all we can do is just be as we are.

    I met my partner on here

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    http://trkur.com/trk?o=6753&p=102570

    • 731 posts
    February 18, 2009 9:29 PM EST
    babyboomerbev,
    Good topic! Sometime last week, I was having this same conversation with a friend of mine that happens to be a good lucking woman (very successful), and now that she`s entering the Cougar years, she feels like she has to have the "Implants and Lipo" and so forth to stay competitive in her game. I guess that`s the difference between a male business owner and a woman business owner. Men don`t really care about this unless, they are [you know, Im not going to go there]

    My honest answer, yes you need sex appeal to be successful. When I was in college [marketing class] I did a simple survey that consisted of 100 people[actual businesses]. The name of my project was "Eye Candy comes in Handy", and what I did was I hired two girls [No-pay since they were good friends of mine, I gave them a free dorm party] One of the girls was on the heavy-set side not that good looking [I called her Subject Fugly] and the other girl was good looking and very attractive [I called her subject Candy].

    My goal was to convince the teacher in 15 minutes, that in order for you to be a successful business owner / Employee, you had to be good looking or decent looking for that matter. So, the survey started, and both girls where given simple tasks... One of the tasks was making it past the receptionist and the other was making the sale.

    To my surprise, 75% of the time, subject Candy made it past the receptionist, and made the sale with little or no effort, on the other hand [my other subject] wouldn`t make it past the receptionist and most of the time would be told to come back next week or they weren`t interested.

    After presenting my case to the teacher[I got a 95  on my project, for that matter], we all agreed that you have to be good looking or decent to make it in this world, no matter if you`re a business owner or employee.

    The reason behind it is because in the USA we are so strong out on looks and fashion. Most of it comes from television and commercials and what they feed our society.

    Look at all your commercials, 85% of them are women [good looking women ages ranging form birth - 45 years of age] the other 10% are cars, food and males, and 5% are animals and even the animals have to look good... God forbid "FIDO" in an alpo commercial has brown spots when they should have been tan [the dog gets fired].

    So in despite of it all, yes... you need need to be good looking if you wan to get ahead.... BTW? what made you bring this up? Now do you think it is important for both men and women to look good or just women in general? 


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    Edgar Monroy
    Web Developer / Owner / Consultant
    When starting your own business the need to "know-how" is greater than money!
    http://www.nuevolution.net

    • 731 posts
    February 20, 2009 6:25 AM EST
    I think we have to keep in mind that 98% of all people who get into car accidents also eat carrots. One might be led to conclude that eating carrots causes car accidents.

    With so many unstated variable in the experiment of getting past the receptionist and making a sale, do we really know that it`s the physical looks that were the deciding factor?


    craigL,
    Yes I left out a lot of variables out, for the sake of this conversation... I think if I would have told everyone how we came to this conclusion I would have bored everyone... My assumption was that "Since we are all intelligent individuals" we were all going to figure it out on our own and not try to disect the conversation. But next time, I will be more specific so you don`t get lost in the conversation greg.
     

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    Edgar Monroy
    Web Developer / Owner / Consultant
    When starting your own business the need to "know-how" is greater than money!
    http://www.nuevolution.net

    • 731 posts
    February 20, 2009 6:43 AM EST

    Nuevolution,

    This topic actually came up in my Women`s Business Group--Boomer Diva Nation.  One of the members said she filled in as a temp on a job and was told by a manager that she was much she dressed older than she looked.  She asked how old he thought she was and he said almost 15 years younger.  So that generated a discussion about sex appeal and what is or is not appropriate. 
    I do believe in "good grooming" for men and women.  I am more inclined to do business with a man who looks like he is well kept than with someone who looks and acts like he just came off of the farm (so to speak).
     
    Men, unfortunately, are not held to the same standards when it comes to appearance at midlife---at least not by other men.

    Babyboomerbev,
    I`m a great believer that how you present yourself is how people perceive you. I had the same experience as that article last week.

    I met with a new client "very successful" young woman. But the way she was dressed, she looked like she was in her early 40`s.(I guess the field of work she was in, she has to pass off as being older)
    After breaking the ice and feeling comfortable with each others, she told me that she was only 26 years old! I`m 36 and I looked younger than her.

    I don`t think that having sex appeal only applies to women but men as well. While some men might try to act tough and say "Shoot I`m not going to wear slacks and a tie" just to meet up with a potential customer. You should, get rid of the facial hair (the goat-tee and mustache) My rule of thumb facial hair and business don`t mix.  

    ---
    Edgar Monroy
    Web Developer / Owner / Consultant
    When starting your own business the need to "know-how" is greater than money!
    http://www.nuevolution.net

  • February 24, 2009 6:23 AM EST
    Hi Bev! Great seeing others from inSide919 here on StartupNation! My main feeling with women of any age and sex appeal is this - you want those you`re meeting with the take you seriously, and for the expert that you are. I feel that sometimes the sex appeal can be more distracting to your own cause than helpful.

    So there is a thin line. Sex has been proven to sell, but again as someone mentioned that may not be true across all markets and target audiences. Look, dress and act as a woman, or rather as YOURSELF. This can cut back on the gender issues in the workplace and marketplace. I`m not just a pretty thing to look at, I have a service or expertise to offer, which are valid and valuable regardless of whether I wear a skirt or slacks!

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    The Complete Business
    Developing Your Business from the Inside Out!
    www.thecompletebusiness.com

    • 1 posts
    February 24, 2009 7:38 AM EST
    In my experience (even though I haven`t had much in terms of years), as a woman in the business world, sex appeal has its advantage and disadvantages. For one, you may get ahead because of your looks in the beginning, but it takes that much more work to prove to people, afterward, that you have more to offer.Unfortunately, in your chosen career field (television), looks have a major role.

    Sex sells. However, personally, I would trust a woman news reporter that looks more experienced and distinguished before I took a younger, less experienced woman seriously. I completely agree with the counterquestion: "What are you selling?"

    For women, the question of appearance has always been an issue. What to wear without looking too sexy, while not looking prudish or masculine. No matter what a woman wears, she is marked with a label. Prude. Flirt. Bitch. Maneater. All have negative tones in the business world. Just look at the negative feedback Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin got regarding their wardrobe choices and both are fairly attractive women. I think the best option for women, young or old, is to ignore those labels and to just take care of yourself and dress as appropriately and sharp as you can, while still feeling attractive (whatever that means for each woman). There`s really nothing else you can do. Afterall, as pointed out before, if you look good, you feel confident. If outward appearance is a struggle, then do your best with it and work on your other strengths. Personality can have a huge effect on whether a person is perceived as attractive and having the skills to sell your point or close a sale is just as confidence-boosting as a good hair day. Cleopatra and Elizabeth I weren`t actually that attractive in real life, but they still gained severe power by using their other assets.

    It`s a fact that sex appeal has an effect on everyone, whether they want to admit it or not. Attractive people get more attention. You just have to figure out where your attractiveness comes from.

    NumberJ2/24/2009 1:45 PM
    • 2 posts
    February 24, 2009 8:01 AM EST
    And yet another dimension: Fat.

    I`m a fat guy, and I do my best to dress professionally, but I`ve certainly had job and business opportunities close up as soon as I`ve met a prospective client or employer in person.

    The argument for an employer is that they may have to pay more for a sick employee (since we all know all fat people get sick much more often than thin ones), but it`s still quite disheartening. I`d rather employers post `no fat people` in their ads if they could, so I don`t have to go through the unpleasantness of getting a very interested email, going through a great telephone conversation, and then having a personal meeting stop dead in the water.

    Short of losing the weight (I exercise every day, believe me), any ideas? I`m trying to do everything virtually so I don`t have to face prospects.

    • 118 posts
    February 17, 2009 11:09 AM EST
    I`d imagine that sexual appeal is still considered a "selling point" even today, although I believe decreasingly so.

    With EEO legislation, a greater climate of open mindedness as well as less sexism in the workplace, employers are hiring more and more based on ones merits and less and less on ones appearance.

    That said, there are many studies that show that more "attractive people" generally have an edge when applying for jobs. I don`t believe that being attractive is the same as being "sexually appealing" although they are probably linked.

    As unfortunate as it may be, we are going to have to deal with this unfairness the best we can. While I wouldn`t recommend dressing in a certain way to distract or attract attention, one should still always be conscious of their appearance to ensure they aren`t discriminated against based on lack of "attractive qualities".

    MattThomas2/17/2009 5:07 PM

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    • 118 posts
    February 19, 2009 10:35 AM EST
    With so many unstated variable in the experiment of getting past the receptionist and making a sale, do we really know that it`s the physical looks that were the deciding factor?


    Great question and as you suggest, we probably couldn`t know unless the receptionist were to be fairly obvious with their motivations (ie: he/she flirting, etc...).

    I think the best course of action for any business person is to ensure that they are well groomed, professional looking and act as professional and courteous as possible. For some, looking to accentuate the "sexual appeal" will repel prospects, and do so very quickly. 
    MattThomas2/19/2009 4:33 PM

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    Motivation for Entrepreneurs
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    • 118 posts
    February 20, 2009 8:34 AM EST
    What does that mean?  Do we still live in a society where our lack of attractive qualities would keep us from getting a job?


    In a word...yes. Unfortunately it is human nature to judge on appearances and while I don`t think "sexual appeal" is as prevalent anymore, someone who is better looking, well groomed and not awkward is more likely to get a job than someone who isn`t any of these things.

    It comes down to presentation and appearance is absolutely a very strong factor in the effectiveness of a presentation.
    MattThomas2/20/2009 2:33 PM

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    Motivation for Entrepreneurs
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    • 118 posts
    February 24, 2009 10:44 AM EST
    As a conservative Christian, I don`t dress with "sex appeal." I dress professionally, modestly and beautifully, and often standout at business meetings because my skirts go below the knee and I don`t show "skin" as some of the current fashions do. Whenever I`ve received comments on my clothing, people often say it is `refreshing` to see a woman dressed more formally, especially when in meeting with older people or people from more conservative countries than the USA.  Instead of dressing for "sex appeal", how about we all strive to look polished, professional and beautiful, no matter what our age or gender? Looking your best isn`t about sexiness, it`s about respect for yourself and the people with whom you are doing business.


    Your situation demonstrated my point exactly. You seem to be echoing the same point as well.

    I don`t think sex appeal sells, appearance does. As you mentioned, many people noticed you based on what you were wearing. The comments you received were based on your clothing and appearance, which is a perfect example as to why appearance (and not necessarily sex appeal) is ever so important in business and commerce.
    MattThomas2/24/2009 4:41 PM

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    Motivation for Entrepreneurs
    Entre-Propel.com

    • 118 posts
    February 25, 2009 11:21 AM EST
    I believe someone said, "use what you have to get what you want" Well, if you use your natural appeal--you can get the world!  I think as we age we do understand that fact.


    Excellent point. Lets not leave out the fact that if you have intelligence and experience, that will likely wow a potential client or associate as well. So not only "using what you got" in terms of appearance, but savvy as well will bring you the most.

    Intelligence alone won`t always get you much, but neither will professional appearance all by itself. It is the TOTAL presentation that will have the greatest effect.

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    Motivation for Entrepreneurs
    Entre-Propel.com

    • 101 posts
    February 17, 2009 3:56 PM EST
    If you`re attractive, odds are you`re confident. That`s the edge. If you`re confident, you ace the interviews. People like attractive people, and attractive people get more practice in the social arena. Children are ruthless to unattractive children. These children often grow up highly introverted. If people don`t like you, you don`t get as much social practice. Talent is important. Being personable enough to sell your talent is another. Sex sells because sexy people have a confidence advantage in selling. That`s my theory.

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    Making limitless possibilities much more limited.

    • 101 posts
    February 26, 2009 2:42 PM EST
    First impressions are everything. Your appearance is your first impression. Before you even open your mouth, you`ve already been judged and stereotyped according to the life experiences of the person involved. Stereotype is a bad word, and prejudice (prejudging) is too, but we all do it. It`s a natural self defense mechanism since you can`t feasibly get to know everyone in the world. You make snap judgements on first sight. These judgements are surprisingly hard to overcome. It`s vital to make sure you get judged favorably. This means dressing to impress. Not everyone can look sexy, but everyone should try as hard as possible. Not looking as attractive as possible is entering a contest with one hand tied behind your back. Why handicap yourself? Make the first impression a good one. Look damn good and you`ll be on the interviewer`s good list until you screw up. Look mediocre and you`ve got an uphill battle to prove yourself.

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    Making limitless possibilities much more limited.

    • 6 posts
    February 24, 2009 11:07 AM EST
    Sexy Sales and and an Eco Brand to Go With It

    I equate sexy with health.  I find both men and women let fear overcome choice when it comes to choosing a healthy, sexy, body image.  The fear of the physical discomfort and effort of sustained elevated heart rate, and the fear of "stepping" outside a comfort zone, of comfy sweatpants or dated jeans.
     
    We have been ushered into a new age of consciousness.  This consciousness dictates the elimination of superflous waste with a mandate to create "health" in ourselves and our businesses.  If we are outdated in our outward appearance what does that say about are ability to innovate in this new age of health awareness for ourselves, and our planet.
     
    Our outward appearance speaks volumes about ourselves at any age.  Men and women entering their mid life 40`s- 50`s with fit bodies, and fashion forward dress will dominate the desires of the marketplace, because we exude
    desirability.  What is sexier than that?  Sex sells because its smart.  It represents the pinnacle of achievement, the dicipline of the mind over the body.  A fit body in a presentation of current wardrobe (think the Obama`s)
    is the shell to a soul, and mind that are aware, alert, thinking, innovating, solving and dreaming.  The energy is present, the mind is functioning. 
     
    With the above equipment in place comes the opportunity to transform an existing business through expansiveness of thought.  Choosing thought principles based in eco conscious methods will open doors previously not thought of.  Thanks for listening.
     
    Monica Macha
    Eco Conscious Jewelry and Product Designer
     

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    Monica Macha
    Owner Drape Couture
    One Drape-Twice the Style

    • 23 posts
    February 24, 2009 10:20 AM EST
    I agree, a certain amount of sexuality can sometimes sell, but I would also suggest that grace and beauty is in the eye of the beholder... and in business, that means your target market. Like anything else in business, all of your actions and endeavors should be aimed directly at them... no more, no less. So - dress, look, act - and have the attitude - that best serves that market, given your own limitations.
     
    For myself, when dealing with fellow business people. I expect them to be dressed, look like and act the part... same as I do. Regardless of their race, age or gender. That "appealing" part may get you in the door, but to get any further, you`d better be a good salesperson - because that`s what IS important.

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    GM, The Entrepreneur Community Network™
    My Little Place on the Web

    • 23 posts
    February 24, 2009 10:38 AM EST
    Jonathon, might I suggest a little self-effacing humor might go a long way in help to create a relationship you CAN work from?
     
    Try working some small bit of that into your opening... I know that this has helped other size-challenged (and other) people get past the first impression stage and on to stuff that`s important. Let your personality come thru`... and show `em your made of more than just a largish body. Let them know there`s a critical skill set there too that they want and need.
     
    Bon chance!

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    GM, The Entrepreneur Community Network™
    My Little Place on the Web

    • 23 posts
    February 25, 2009 4:19 AM EST
    Bev, I do believe you get it!
     
    Great job.

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    GM, The Entrepreneur Community Network™
    My Little Place on the Web