7 truths about midlife women you need know NOW
My hair is grey. My midriff is expanding. My bones ache. I still have combination skin. I’m more than halfway through my career and probably my life.
I should be driving around in a sports car by now or traded in my first spouse for a second, younger model. Instead, I’m caring from my 11-year-old daughter and taking my parents to doctor appointments. And the sports car? Forget it. I drive a car with a big enough boot to fit my groceries AND the stuff that needs to go to the tip. That’s sexy.
Why isn’t a woman’s midlife crisis as fun as a man’s?
The archetypal midlife crisis is kind of glamorous.
While it might be driven by a man’s fear of losing his virility, it manifests itself as living out the dreams he had about his adult life when he was a spotty teenage boy. It’s the car or the motorbike. It’s the cigars and girly bars. It’s going out with the lads and getting as drunk as your middle-aged body will tolerate and then getting an uberBlack home because, let’s face it, you’re too old and have made too much money to slum it on the night bus.
I realise there are very few men who actually have this midlife crisis. Most “real” men are too busy pulling 70-hour workweeks to pull women half their age. From what I can tell, they rather like the wives they have and they know they’d look ridiculous in a tricked-out Dodge Viper.
But the image of Midlife Crisis Man has flamboyance to it, some joie de vivre!
Why is a man's #midlifecrisis so much more fun than a woman's? Sports cars and girly bars. But women? Drab. Dowdy. Lumpy. It's time to start owning our midlife stereotype! abrilliantgamble.com
But, let’s compare that to the stereotypical image of Midlife Crisis Woman.
She’s drab, dowdy even. She’s stopped caring about herself. She’s lumpy and bumpy and pretty much invisible. OR she’s trying too hard - mutton dressed as lamb, Kronenbourg 1664 (looks like 16 from the back, 64 from the front. I know. It’s awful).
If she dates younger men she’s a “Cougar”. If she looks attractive to a younger man, she’s a “MILF” (neither of which are compliments, by the way).
Why are the two stereotypes so different?
The reality of the Midlife Crisis Woman is more complex, as it is with the reality of midlife men, of course.
So here are 7 truths about midlife women - from the mouth of an actual, living, breathing midlife woman:
We are tired. A combination of hormonal changes, looking after at-home kids and ageing parents, plus a home and a job will do that to a person. There’s even a new buzzword to describe the predicament - we are ‘the sandwich generation’.
Life is full, partly because we had our children later than previous generations of women. By this stage, my grandmothers were marrying off their children and had time to go to the salon for a hair-do and meet with friends for a long, boozy lunch. I let my hair go grey in part because I simply didn’t have the time to dye it.
We are probably uncomfortable. Menopause is a shock to the system. Not only are our jeans tighter but our joints ache and there are the hot flashes and the bloating. We’re finding it time-consuming and expensive to keep the body we had in our 30s...and wondering why we are expected to. And we can’t talk about it because who wants to hear a middle-aged woman talk about her night sweats?
We are probably becoming more feisty. You didn’t see that coming did you? Middle-aged women aren’t so concerned about what other people think of them. One of the benefits of being perceived as non-viable sexually (by our culture, although individually we might be having a wild old time!) is that we can take more risks. We don’t care so much about fitting in, acting our age or conforming to stereotypes. We are tired of it. We’re rediscovering our inner punk, our inner hipster, our inner vintage glamour-puss. We stand up to surly staff in shops and restaurants. We ask for refunds and write scathing reviews on social media. We care less about playing nice, being a good girl. We are women now, tired women, and we don’t have the time or the energy to suffer fools.
We want to work, we are still ambitious but we’re not going to sell our soul for our company. We can do more in a morning than our younger sisters can do in a week. We know who to call. We know how to get what we want. We cut through the garbage and Get. The. Job. Done. And then we want to go home. We’re done with presenteeism and trying to crash the old boys' network. We know women in high place. We are women in high places. We don’t need to hustle any more.
It’s not the fancy car and the younger model that we want. We want a long bath, the house to ourselves once in a while and guilt-free time to do whatever we damn well please - meet up with our friends, drink really, really good coffee, go to hot yoga where we can sweat shamelessly, listen to Gardeners Question Time or turn the music up very, very loud and dance as we used to in the 80s without our kids judging us.
We might want to do something you think is crazy. I sold my house and went travelling for 7 months with my daughter and dogs in a motorhome. I have a friend who sold her business and now writes slightly saucy novels for other middle aged women who love them. I know a lady who started body-building when she hit 50. We aren’t mad. We’re just aware that the clock is ticking. If we don’t bust out of our shell of conformity now, when exactly are we going to do that? Anyway, we don’t really care what you think.
Can a woman have a #midlifecrisis? It’s time we started claiming midlife for ourselves. Let’s talk about it, share our stories and encourage each other’s plans to write new ones. abrilliantgamble.com
For too long the midlife crisis has been the preserve of the middle aged man. I think it’s time the women started claiming it for themselves. We need to talk about it, share our stories and encourage each other’s plans to write new ones. We need to embrace this stage in our life, take more risks and re-write the rules of the midlife crisis.
We have to be our beautiful, bold, ageing, wise selves...hot flashes, stretchy waistbands, Blondie on volume 11, and all.
start owning your midlife
If you’re ready to start owning midlife, make some changes, find a way to balance the competing demands on your time and embrace who you’re becoming you’ll love A Brilliant Gamble Online.
This online programme is specifically designed for people at a crossroads, looking to live life on their own terms and is based on my own honest experiences of navigating my way through midlife (and coaching others on the same journey). You can find out more about it here.
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