In the first episode of the second season of And Just Like That …, Cynthia Nixon gets naked. Like, really naked. The full-frontal shots (yes, plural) come during some – spoiler alert – steamy sex scenes with her new love Che, and during a visit to a floatation tank. You know, as you do.
“The show is about sex, and sometimes people have sex with their clothes on, but most often they are naked when they have sex,” Nixon told InStyle. “So, I always try and make a decision about would she [Miranda], realistically speaking, be naked here. In which case – OK, it's not my favourite thing, I don't feel wildly comfortable about it – but OK, I'm game. Let's do it. If she's in a flotation tank, chances are she's naked, right?”
I remember the first time I watched a film and saw a woman over 50 completely naked. It was fairly recently, actually. Last year in fact. It was Emma Thompson in the 2022 film, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. At the very end of the film, in which the 64-year-old hires a male prostitute, Emma is seen standing in front of a mirror completely nude.
Full frontal nudity is not an anomaly for actors. Margot Robbie bared it all in The Wolf of Wall Street, Emilia Clarke famously had several nude scenes in Game of Thrones, and both Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar Jones got their kits off for Normal People.
Yet, it’s not often we see a woman of a certain age completely in the buff – and seeing both Emma and now Cynthia do so is seriously refreshing.
These are two women with bodies that society would label as ‘past their prime’. They do not have the taut skin and pert breasts that we so often fetishise as being the only acceptable way to look as a woman. They have bodies that have lived a life. That have loved and been seen. That have been worshipped exactly as they are. And, in a world where women are told that their body is currency, that they need to stay looking young for as long as they can (I’m looking at you, Kardashians), there is something so comforting about seeing normal, older bodies represented on screen.
Perhaps the reason why I found these moments so comforting for me personally is because my body is not the kind usually found on screen. As a plus size woman, it’s easy to watch these younger actors do full frontal scenes and compare your thighs that touch and rounded belly to what you feel like you should look like.
So, seeing Cynthia Nixon and Emma Thompson in all of their untouched glory was a magic moment, of the realisation that it is OK to allow your body to age with you, and that not all of us have to keep the bodies of our youths to feel loved, accepted and lusted after in this world.