When I was younger, I held a very set view of what midlife looked like. All of the older women I knew fitted a definite stereotype and it seemed beyond the realm of possibility to break it.
I assumed there’d be a point – probably menopausal – where I would simply morph into this woman. I’d suddenly love the look of a waterfall cardigan, modern music would start to sound like noise, and I’d be happy to let my years of adventure fade into memory.
What happened instead was that, as I approached the milestone midlife birthday, I actively pushed back. I baulked at the idea of switching weekends at festivals for ‘pleasant’ day trips, I answered society’s call to ‘dress my age’ by combining my daughters’ wardrobe with my own, and I adamantly refused to give up my nights spent dancing.
I wondered, was it just me who felt this deadening of all things fun, that wild times should be replaced with staid routine, and just another way to keep older women in their place?
Of course the answer is a very definite … NO. There’s a whole raft of us out there who will happily abandon the traditional middle age label, and we plan to behave very badly well into our twilight years!
After months of reading numerous articles telling women how vital it is to live a squeaky-clean life as we age, it was a breath of fresh air to read Bafta nominee Lesley Manville’s interview in the Guardian recently. She summed it up perfectly:
“It’s important for young people to see that older people have not turned off a button and become this kind of muted, non-feeling entity. I do want to go out dancing and get sweaty and drink too much and get home at three in the morning, and I do want to have sex, and I do want to dress how I want to dress, and I want to have a life and be able to choose what I want to do; and I am over 60.”
There’s just one thing to say to that really: ‘YES’!
Yes to drinking, dancing, socialising and sex. Yes to wearing exactly what we want, to sometimes looking less than perfect – and yes to simply being gloriously and indefatigably human.
The idea that we should start to calm down as we reach a certain age is absolutely no fun at all. And why should we? Of course we need to take greater care of ourselves now, but a holistic approach to health means more than just our physical wellbeing.
We are a hard working generation with demanding jobs, children to raise and homes to run, so a gentle drive out into the country isn’t always going to cut it for me in the ‘unwinding after work’ stakes. I want to let my hair down and bask in that heady feeling of just letting loose!
I may get the occasional disapproving look from the girls, but what’s a little rebellion without a stickler to ignore? The point is, I think that the rules of what counts as ‘a good time’ when you’re older need to be ditched as swiftly as the ones surrounding what we should wear.
Go out on the tiles, drink just a little too much, dance until the early hours – and then next weekend, go out and do it all over again!