It is my birthday today. I am 57 years old. Midlife is a phase that calls for introspection. The opening gambit when looking back on life is, in my case, to draw upon something memorable that touched me.
There is a scene in ‘Thorn Birds’, the TV drama series shown in the 1980s, when Barbara Stanwyck rants at Richard Chamberlain about being older and invisible. She uses the words, ‘I am still young, I still feel, I still want…’. The raw emotion in that scene is chilling for the way she uses anger to convey the desperation of being older.
I am much younger than Barbara Staynwyck was in her role but there is much truth in her words. Women beyond a certain age do become invisible and are seen as ‘has been mumsy figures’. Career ambitions, lifestyle aspirations or even fashion trends are not seen as being relatable to Generation X women. Do-gooders attempt to assuage us by telling us that we ‘look good for our age’.
Generation X women like me are challenging these outdated and condescending attitudes. Midlife is now a phase in life where we either reinvent ourselves or become even more comfortable with the status quo of our beings, through acquiring the wisdom of age.
I reinvented myself. How could I not when something momentously wonderful happened exactly a year ago which raised my personal game? I was one of the mums in the popular reality TV show called, ‘Mums Make Porn’. I transitioned from being an invisible middle aged woman to being a confident one. I rediscovered my self-worth and reinvented myself in the process. No, it wasn’t because of the ensuing Z -list fame, as I refer to it, that did it.
After years of feeling like a boring schmuck, I was given space on prime time television to discuss my view. I realised that I was actually an interesting person. People stopped me on the street to speak to me about how they related to my views. It was a ‘Wow’ moment which I would wish on every midlifer who is trying to find their way in life. We all need validation. Don’t mistake this for being a substitute for self-worth. Self-worth is an internal construct borne out of how you treat yourself. Validation is an external affirmation of how you feel about yourself.
Generation X women are trail blazers. Old enough to have been part of previous feminist fights for equality but lucky enough to be part of the current feminist revolution which I term ‘Midlife Feminism’. We do things our way, we have the internet to disseminate our fight against the traditional stereotyping of us and we are not afraid of inhabiting spaces traditionally seen as belonging to the young such as cafes, bars and trendy boutiques.
Happy Birthday to me.