Beyond the Hot Flashes: New Portrayals of Mature Women

  • Melissa Ames
  • Sarah Burcon


On 20 May 2015, after 33 years on the small screen, CBS’s The Late Night with David Letterman aired for the last time. In the lead-up to his finale, the longest running late night host featured an array of memorable all-star guest appearances. One of the most memorable, perhaps, was Tina Fey’s visit to the show, which resulted in her doing a striptease in honor of the retiring icon. It probably sounds a bit more scandalous than it actually was. Despite the fact that the band did, in fact, play a few suggestive instrumental chords while she began to disrobe, the stunt was never meant to be arousing. Like much of Fey’s comedy, there was obvious social commentary involved. After the 42-year-old comedian joked that in honor of his departure she would never wear a fancy dress on a talk show again, she removed it to reveal an intricate assortment of full coverage underwear — two sets of Spanx and a supportive bra — none of which could be labeled provocative lingerie. Across her fully constricted abdomen were the words ‘Bye Dave.’1 But it was her comments after giving him her little blue dress as a keepsake that revealed the intent of her ‘tongue-in-cheek feminist performance art.’2 Noting that it was her last time ‘conforming to gender norms’ and then commenting on the extremes that women go to in order to achieve beauty ideals (mocking her ‘almost medical’ under attire), it’s clear Fey wanted to use the public platform to call attention to feminist issues, although some felt the stunt fell flat.3


Female Director Feminist Issue Empty Nest Mature Woman David Letterman 
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  1. 19.
    Greer, Germaine. The Change: Women, Aging, and the Menopause. NYC: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992, p. 23.Google Scholar
  2. 42.
    Northrup, Christiane. The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change. NYC: Bantam Books, 2012, p. 9.Google Scholar
  3. 50.
    Loh, Sandra Tsing. The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones. NYC: Norton, 2014, p. 95.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Melissa Ames and Sarah Burcon 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa Ames
    • 1
  • Sarah Burcon
    • 2
  1. 1.Eastern Illinois UniversityUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganUSA

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