She's 66 years old. She has an Academy Award for playing a decidedly frumpy Queen Elizabeth. Her last movie role was as the elderly spinster nanny to Russell Brand's playboy millionaire in "Arthur." And she's officially got the best body in the world. Dame Helen Mirren, what was it like when they created you on Mount Olympus?
When the gym chain LA Fitness polled 2,000 members on the sexiest male and female physiques on the planet, you'd expect renowned hotties like Nicole Scherzinger and this year's It Girl, Pippa Middleton, to make the list. And they did. But who'd have guessed that Inspector Jane Tennyson would blow away the competition for the top spot? Or that 48-year-old Elle Macpherson would come in second, and 42-year-old Jennifer Lopez would land in fourth? And lest you thinking defying Father Time is for the ladies, the male list is decidedly unyouthful too, with Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, David Hasselhoff and Simon Cowell all making appearances. Note to gravity: YOU LOSE.
Now, an LA Fitness poll isn't exactly the ne plus ultra of scientific inquiry, and it's not as if Helen Mirren's off-the-charts level of foxiness is going to change Victoria's Secret fashion shows or Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. You need only do a comparative perusal of the Maxim 100, where teenagers like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift are holding their own against a variety of Kardashians and models, to know that dewy, voluptuous youth never goes out of favor.
There's something defiantly cheeky and provocative about the LA Fitness poll results -- a little like, oh, I don't know, declaring Mirren's costar Russell Brand the sexiest man of the year. Look at us! Thinking outside the box! No wonder LA Fitness's marketing director Tony Orme told the Hollywood Reporter this week that "It's great to see the public celebrating bodies of all shapes and sizes, and proving that you really can look fabulous over 40 and 50."
That's really the point here, isn't it? A beautiful body at 18 is all but a birthright, but one at 60 is the result of damn hard work and incredibly serendipitous genetics. And indeed Mirren declared last year that her "best friend" is her Wii Fit.
Of course, a survey whose results suggest that beauty and sexiness aren't the sole terrain of the young -- and that having a rocking body is possible at any age -- is well in service of the fitness industry. Sure, Mirren, like those ankle-biting whippersnappers Macpherson and Lopez, surely has all the body, face, and hair upkeep that a woman could dream of. Simply rolling out of bed looking like a million bucks becomes an increasingly unrealistic option the older any of us get – even a woman who is still cavorting around in red bikinis and posing naked in magazines.
Yet despite the attention-getting nature of the LA Fitness poll, it serves as a reminder that beauty and sexiness don't necessarily have an expiration date. That aging is inevitable, but "letting yourself go" only has to be if you choose to make it so. That being vibrant and active is always seductive. And that the untouchable Helen Mirren can outscorch legions of females 50 years her junior.