Madonna at the 2013 Billboard Awards (Photos and Videos). myMDNA.com, May 19, 2013. YouTube.
Madonna: Super Bowl Halftime Show Medley 2012. Video. womanizer2008brit, March 7, 2012. YouTube.
The MDNA Tour (Director’s Cut): Full Show– [Edit by BPP Productions]. Video. GLProductions02, May 14, 2013. YouTube. More videos of the MDNA Tour here, here, here, and here. The Virgin Tour Live 1985. Blond Ambition Tour 1990 Barcelona (also here). Who’s That Girl World Tour 1987 Tokyo. Ciao Italia Concert 1988.
Madonna continues to push boundaries and buttons. And once again, people are asking if she’s gone too far.
This time, it’s not the costumes she wears in her concerts but the racy clothing she has been wearing (or not wearing) to public events like Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards. Accepting a Top Touring Artist award on stage, Madonna showed up in a provocative and skimpy ensemble. The outfit, custom made by Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, included a black shredded-fishnet dress revealing a garter belt and black briefs.
The outfit set off a round of tweets. “Madonna you are my mothers age. Needless to say i don’t want to see either of you in fishnet tights,” one viewer complained.
Others expressed a blend of revulsion and envy. Madonna “is like 50 years old and has a better body than me oh,” another viewer complained.
To some people, older women often seem to be trying too hard when wearing sexy outfits. The look can come off as desperate, embarrassing, a little sad.
Madonna may be doing what she feels she must to remain relevant and compete with the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Rihanna, who are each in their way indebted to her. Yet if Lady Gaga dressed in one of these outfits, people would probably yawn.
Given Madonna’s age, which is 54, is she making herself look foolish? Why do such provocative outfits seem less offensive when worn by younger women? Should older women wear something a little more covered up?
On the other hand, some people are asking a different question: When did we decide a woman over 50 should stop being overtly sexy? Why, if she still has a toned body, can't she wear risqué outfits?
Yet even Madonna’s fans might be forgiven for wondering how much longer she will continue wearing get-ups like this.
What does it all mean for real women and men entering their 40s, 50s and beyond who want to walk the line between dressing their age, whatever that means, and dressing as if they are denying their age? We'll wait to see what Madonna decides to wear next, when she is expected to appear as a presenter at a big Gucci-sponsored benefit concert next month in England.
in Fishnets: At 54, Madonna sported a provocative outfit from Givenchy|
to an awards show on May 19. Getty Images.
wore something slightly more demure—also from Givenchy—|
at the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute gala on May 6. Getty Images.