This week, we meet multi-tasker Lorraine Candy. She’s a mother of four and an award-winning journalist who has been writing about parenting for more than a decade, with columns in The Sunday Times Magazine and the Daily Mail. She’s also the co-host of the chart-topping podcast Postcards from Midlife, which features the stories of spirited midlife women. Formerly the editor-in-chief of The Sunday Times Style, ELLE and Cosmopolitan, she is now focusing full-time on writing. Her book Mum, What's Wrong With You? 101 Things Only Mothers of Teenage Girls Know is out in June 2021 (4th Estate). Lorraine is a keen open-water swimmer and grew up in Cornwall.
You’ve been so high-profile in women’s magazines for such a long time. Does the current crop of glossies address the concerns of midlife women?
The glossies are enthusiastically presenting a more diverse range of women in my opinion. The narrative is changing and there is great value in giving women in midlife a bigger voice. Magazine editors are business people as well – they realise they need to reflect society to sell copies. I am certainly seeing a much better representation of elegant, stylish older women in fashion and beauty mags now.
Newspapers are a little way behind – it may be because some are edited by older males who still have a very set idea of what women should look like at a certain age, but that is changing too. The momentum is there and we as women have to be happy about telling our midlife stories and changing the language around that. Good Housekeeping has been working hard on this, as has The Telegraph’s Stella magazine.
Who are the midlife role models inspiring you and why?
Any woman who has a spirited and adventurous attitude to life inspires me. I love to see women who enjoy their second act, or use their wisdom and skills to pass back down the line to younger women coming through. I’m inspired by any grown-up woman who has a vibrant and upbeat attitude to ageing, be they academics, celebrities, sportswomen or the mums around me who are being all things to all people all day! I do like J.Lo’s body, though – I find that quite motivating when I am out on my reluctant runs.
You’re been a parenting columnist and you’re about to bring out a book. What are your tips for dealing with the clash of hormonal teenager versus menopausal mother?
My book is called Mum, What's Wrong With You? 101 Things Only Mothers of Teenage Girls Knowand it is a memoir full of expert advice from the parenting gurus I have interviewed for the podcast and my newspaper columns. I wrote it to describe exactly this clash. It’s the perfect storm for mums and daughters, isn’t it? You’re unravelling a little because of fluctuations in hormones in perimenopause and she’s coming together as her hormones flood in. Everyone is changing and that can be hard.
Be patient, do not panic and don’t sweat the small stuff. You’re going to make mistakes, it’s a learning curve and tomorrow is another day when you can rectify mistakes and start again. And get the right hormone-replacement therapy for you. Know the facts when you visit your GP because there are more than 40 symptoms of perimenopause – and no accurate test to diagnose it. Make sure you know everything you can.
You love fashion – which are your favourite labels?
That’s an ever-changing list as new, more sustainable brands come through. I like smaller labels such as Lily and Lionel, and Aligne, and athleisure brands with sustainability at their heart like Asquith London. I shop on The Outnet and via Instagram. I love the new rental companies like MyWardrobeHQ and By Rotation. And I buy from eBay and Depop.
Tell us about your brilliant podcast Postcards from Midlife?
I present Postcards from Midlife with fellow magazine editor Trish Halpin, whom I have known for 25 years. Between us we have edited Cosmo, Marie Claire, Red, InStyle, ELLE and The Sunday Times Style, we are in our early 50s and have six kids between us. We realised as we hit our mid-40s that no one had told us about perimenopause, or the way our lives would change as we aged. So we asked the experts. We saw how much misinformation was out there and that we could help women by getting the correct facts to them.
We like to keep the show upbeat, positive and witty, and we share fashion and beauty knowledge as well. We often top the iTunes family charts. We’ve interviewed everyone from breast-cancer specialist Professor Michael Baum to Caitlin Moran, Marian Keyes and Kate Garraway.
Who has been your most memorable interviewee?
For me it would be Professor Baum: he explained very clearly how women had been ignored for years and denied HRT – which helps prevent heart disease and osteoporosis – because of badly informed GPs who, in my opinion, ignored women’s pain. There is a patriarchal view of women when it comes to ageing and helping women get the medicine they need to age happily. He was inspirational and really changed our listeners’ lives. It’s been incredibly moving to hear stories from listeners about how they finally got the help they needed after listening to us.
How do you manage to be so damn good at everything you do?
I don’t think I am! There are many mistakes on the path to doing anything successfully. I have a lot of energy, I try to remain positive and just get the stuff done – or ask for help in getting it done. I have loved editing magazines, I loved being a news reporter at the start of my career, I really love podcasting with Trish, and being a mum to my four kids has been the best thing that could ever happen to a woman. I am very lucky to have had the chance to do all that.
I love working with young women and listening to how they view the world, and I always try and think big whatever I do. I am what you would call a good hustler: I go into everything I do with curiosity and optimism and hustle the hell out of it.
How do you feel about ageing and the narrative around it?
I have all the doubts and worries every woman has. I know I am in a privileged position when it comes to ageing, which is what makes me grateful for every day. I am healthy, happy and have the financial resources I need – which is a good place to be.
I am sad not to have as much time left as I want, I am melancholy about my kids leaving home, and not being in the midst of the child-rearing years, which I loved. I am still grappling with the wrinkles and the changing body shape, but I think any Gen X woman feels pressure to be slimmer or look younger, though it doesn’t define a better life. I just want the phrase “She looks good for her age” to be banned and we can all move on.
What are the beauty must-haves in your make-up bag?
I don’t wear much make-up but I drink a lot of water, stick to a good cleansing routine and listen to what Caroline Hirons tells me on Instagram!
And your Desert Island disc, book and luxury item?
My luxury item is a good swimming costume and great goggles – I love swimming outdoors so I don’t go anywhere without goggles in case I can swim when I’m there! And right now, I’ll read anything that makes me laugh.
Find Lorraine @lorrainecandy on Twitter and Instagram; listen to Postcards from Midlife here.