Cameron Diaz Esquire 353

Cameron Diaz's Esquire birthday shoot.

Cameron Diaz celebrated turning 40 by slipping into suspenders, thigh-high boots and bending over on the cover of UK Esquire magazine. Why, why why did she want to mark the milestone in this way? I’m intrigued as to the thought process behind the decision because on the surface it looks something like this:

“Hey y’all! I may be 40 but I can still drop it like a freaky-hot pole dancer! Wooooh- hoooo!”

Kill me now.

Mila Kunis Esquire

Mila Kunis is Esquire's 'sexiest woman alive' for 2012.

I like Cameron. I am a fan. She’s beautiful, a great comedic actress, excellent taste in friends (Drew, Gwyneth) and shoes. She seems like the kind of girl who makes the good times roll. One of my people. She surfs, she hikes, a man has never defined her - I thought she might celebrate turning 40 by being the first actress in space or dressing up as a Muppet on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Instead, Cameron has joined the long, long list of celebrities - Jennifer, Kylie, Madonna, Demi, Catherine – who felt the need to prove to the world that they were “just as hot as ever” by taking their clothes off at/near/after 40. It’s a move that’s become achingly predictable like bad, cheesy wallpaper in a cheap hotel.

The sad part is that after seeing Diaz’s crotch blown up to A4 size I didn’t want to read the article. I lost all interest. I don’t care what she has to say about ageing, marriage, world peace, anything when she’s in the nude. I really don’t.

Turning 40 as an A-list leading lady musn’t be easy. Particularly if you’re known for your body and looks. This is the watershed time when you move from getting cast as the Babe, the Ingénue, the Love Interest, the Hot Thing to the Cougar, the Mother, the Basket Case or the Witch. But surely there’s an alternative way to reaffirm your attractiveness other than posing for a men’s mag in your undies?

Before you start throwing rocks and screaming that “women are sexy at any age” and “who I am to judge anyone’s choice”, just hold off for a couple more paragraphs. This is NOT about a woman’s right to disrobe or be sexy. This is about celebrities over a certain age feeling the pressure to prove their hotness. I’m exhausted by it. I would love to see just one of these beautiful, talented women mark the moment in a different way. If I’m rolling my eyes at these images then I know that others must be too.

I appreciate that Esquire is a men's magazine and that the pictures were shot for a specific audience. However, Cameron (and all her people) knew that these shots would travel everywhere and be seen by everyone - including the kid looking over Daddy's shoulder and asking why Princess Fiona was showing off her bottom.

US Esquire magazine's ‘Sexiest Women Alive Issue’ went on sale on Monday with said 'sexiest woman', Mila Kunis, on the cover. Wearing leather jeans, she’s topless with her back to the camera. In the article she talks about being forced to appear in a shoot for a men’s magazine (not Esquire) when she was starting out in her career: "(He was) a person higher than an executive. It was like, 'If you don't do this magazine, you'll never work in this company.' I went, 'Great.' It was the first time that I had someone on the phone tell me that I will never work in this industry again".

It made me wonder if I’m wrong about Cameron and her motivations. Maybe there are far darker forces at play in Hollywood than we realise? It’s possible that all the clichés you've read about are true. Perhaps the women really don't have a choice and these shoots happen because it’s still very much a man's town with men making the wrong decisions for all the great women in it?

Paula Joye is Editor of www.lifestyled.com.au or you follow her on Twitter and Facebook.