Written by Victoria King

Voices

Getting older rocks

Victoria King couldn’t be more chuffed to be getting older, and loads of her mates feel the same. She tells us why.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Everyone says life begins at 40. Nothing particularly happened to me on the day itself, but as I move through the decade (I’ve just turned 46) and towards the next big birthday, I’ve found I have more self-appreciation and care less about stuff that doesn’t really matter.

I feel like I’m not getting older, just wiser. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting older, despite the myriad cliches we’re sold about ageing as a woman: saggy this, saggy that; being asked if you’d like to buy age-defying cream at every turn, normally by someone aged about 12 at a department store beauty counter.

Sod that. Sod the cliches. I’ve no intention of going all Saga Holidays and polyester slacks, and neither am I about to buy a Harley and sleep with the office junior.

Still, I think middle-aged confidence can be pretty potent. I won’t define ‘middle age’ because it changes. My friends range from 30 to 55 (gorgeous to sexually vital) and all of them totally rock their age. And there certainly doesn’t have to be any frump unless you want there to be.

A friend once said to me, “You need to buy underwear you shouldn’t get run over in.” My reply was, “I don’t do tassels.” She rolled her eyes. But we both had a point. I hate tights – instruments of torture for women – so I buy fancy holdups and wear them every day. No one knows but me; they’re a hidden bit of sexy – until a windy day.

There are simply some things I like about getting older. I like the idea of an active waistband (to those younger than 40, that means elastic). It may sound grotesque but it means you can have a pudding in the Italian on a Saturday night with your girlfriends without having to feel like you are wearing a Downton Abbey corset.

I love embracing my white and grey hair. Previously a redhead, I would get my hair coloured and pray I didn’t wind up looking like Basil Brush. No more foils and trashy mags for me.

“My friends range from 30 to 55 (gorgeous to sexually vital) and all of them totally rock their age. And there certainly doesn’t have to be any frump unless you want there to be.”

Wondering if other women felt the same, I asked them what they celebrate about getting and being older. Cue Led Zep’s Whole Lotta Love for a Top of the Pops-style countdown.

15. Having a takeaway night in with a mate instead of a pub crawl and it being totally acceptable – in fact, sharing a mutual sense of relief.

14. Not feeling guilty that happiness is often a cup of tea. Alone.

13. Still being able to pull younger men.

12. Dressing for myself and no one else.

11. Staying seated on the bus or train, because we’re now the ones people get up for.

10. Being defiant when buying Tena Lady, because they mean I can still have a good laugh.

9. Ignoring women who knock down women – we don’t need them.

8. Not caring about housework.

7. Buying and wearing flat shoes even if we are short.

6. Getting into pyjamas early in the evening. And not just on Christmas Eve.

5. Not being ashamed of buying elasticated trousers.

4. Cutting the negative people out of your life/not caring so much what people think anymore.

3. Our relationships with other women: friends, mams, sisters.

2. Growing old disgracefully and not giving a shit.

1. Stopping at nothing because our age is simply a number.

I’m embracing getting older. And judging by my champion pack of like-minded ageing women, I’m not alone.

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Written by Victoria King

Victoria is working on her first book. She is also a flag-waving survivor of Crohn’s Disease. And she loves a Mr Whippy.