Woman, 39, Appears On '39-And-Over' Book Cover

Books, TV, Film Spark 40-Something Trends In Pop Culture

The influence of “Sex and the City” on pop culture has paved the way for one Bakersfield woman on the cusp of turning 40. She’s now appearing on book covers.

Blogger and now cover model, Melinda Carroll, 39, has taken a revealing look at self empowerment for women turning 40. She posed for the sensual anthology, “39 And Holding … Him.”

Carroll, who writes the Bakersfield-based Matildakay blog, said she got to be on the cover of the anthology because she fit the demographic by being the exact age of the title.

Having a secluded upbringing, the normally quiet and shy Carroll said she isn’t the kind of person who would normally appear in a skimpy outfit on the cover of a book. She said, “I had to grow into this attitude of empowerment by doing things for myself and finding out what being a woman is all about.”

The book represents a growing trend of sensual content in pop culture. Erotic fiction trends, according to Publisher Kathryn Lively, have become increasingly popular as such books are no longer kept hidden by book sellers, but displayed prominently in storefronts. “Erotic romances, once relegated to the back shelves of Borders with the sex manuals, are now showcased among the top romance sellers,” Lively said.

Lively said her company Phaze was launched in response to the rising demand for steamier romance fiction in eBook and print. “It could not be denied that readership was becoming more attentive to spicier content,” said Lively. She also suggested that society is “continuously becoming more open as people become more comfortable with their own sexuality.”

Lively said she has noticed pop culture’s steamier content in television. “TV in particular has raised the bar on graphic content. While non-cable networks remain somewhat conservative, you have shows like Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, and Big Love literally baring all in love scenes.”

And just like viewers of now defunct TV show, but soon to be released movie, “Sex and the City,” Lively said most readers of such sensual content are also women.

Carroll thinks there’s a fairy tale aspect that women have bought into within such literature that correlates to television and women wanting to take control of their lives. As a reader of such fiction, Carroll said, “It’s in some ways related to the typical fairy tale as well as a show like 'Sex in the City.' You have your fantasy fairy tale that you grew up with -- the happy ending, everything will work out fine -- but you also have the adventures and sexcapades of a “Sex and the City” type show.

The TV show, and such erotic-themed 40-something literature, have their moments of revealing that women, although in their 40s, still have a strong sensual side. “While I may never get down to a single-digit dress size like the four main characters (“Sex and the City”), it is comforting to know that life does not have to end at forty. It's just the beginning,” Lively said.

Although Carroll wishes she would have felt as empowered 15 years ago, she said she wanted to show herself as well as other women that they can do what they want. “It’s very tastefully done. I think it (book cover) does a lot to show that women can be independent, strong, empowered at any age.”

“I loved the cover the minute I saw it,” Lively said, who also understands that eye-catching book covers are why people often purchase certain books in stores.. “It's sexy, daring, curvaceous, and simple. Even though the book involves over-40 heroines, the cover seems to transcend age and offer a timeless portrait of beauty.”

Carroll said that women who feel old, depressed or who don’t feel important can take control of their lives. “I think that women need to find something, an outlet somehow to project a good self image of themselves and to believe in themselves and have positive feedback. One way that I am doing that is through this book cover.”

Carroll just finished a photo shoot for the follow-up anthology, “39 And Still Holding.” She said being on both covers is a way for her to stay 39 forever. “Actually holding the book and seeing the book and seeing myself on the book was really empowering to say, ‘I did that. That’s me on that book. I look really good.’”