When images of Nicole Kidman on the cover of the new issue of LOVE magazine were unveiled online earlier this week, the response in the office was universally approving. Wearing a red lace-up swimsuit by Love Stories Swim Club, a Stetson cowboy hat, gold Cartier jewellery and fur-lined denim jacket by Pinko (thrown so far off the shoulders we're calling it 'wrist-robing'), the 50-year-old Oscar winner looks sensational.
Elsewhere in the cowboy-themed shoot, (no doubt riffing on her relationship with country star Keith Urban), Kidman dances wearing a cornflower blue polkadot dress (it looks like the Instagram dress from Realisation Par), while in another, she shows off her washboard abs in a white crop top and red chaps. There's another where she wears a backwards cap, and one sipping a beer. It's a world away from her buttoned-up red carpet persona, or ice-queen reputation, and we love her for it.
Yet it wasn't long before rumours began circulating that Kidman herself wasn't happy with the shoot. She was reportedly 'devastated' at the risque nature of the styling and the posing, as several looks required her to go braless and revealed subtle flashes of nipple. According to sources, she 'thought it was no way for a married mother-of-four who's just turned 50 to be behaving'.
In a teaser for the interview on the LOVE website, Kidman jokes about the shoot, saying: 'I thought about this shoot afterwards. I was like, ‘What was I doing? I lost my mind! How are the shots? Do they look crazy?’' All of which suggests that maybe her words have been taken out of context, and she's not embarrassed by it at all - it's just another instance in which the media wants to tear down a woman for looking sexy - particularly an older woman.
Because, really, what's wrong here? Yes, she is styled in a way that makes her look much younger, but what's the problem with that? This is fashion, and Kidman is playing a character, it is not reportage (she's dressed a cowgirl for God's sake!). Society is obsessed with the idea of age-appropriate dressing for women (funnily no one is tearing David Beckham down for dressing like his teenage son Brooklyn), so much so that anyone flaunting a toned body past 'a certain age' is chastised for being 'mutton dressed as lamb' (see: Brigitte Macron's mini-skirts). Past 40, women aren't allowed to be sexy, is the connotation.
Kidman has a body many women would strive for, and there's no doubt that she's worked hard for it, so is a tasteful nipple really something to be ashamed of - 50-year-old mother-of-four or not? After all, surely the very fact of her toned bod means she's achieved what society is constantly pressuring women to do - to look good - so why can't she show it off? There's a serious double standard going on here: she's damned if she does, she's damned if she doesn't.
We may never find out the truth to reports of Kidman's supposed changing attitude to the shoot, but regardless, we're fans, and we don't think looking good at 50 is anything to be 'devastated' by.