In a recent interview about my menopause experience, I ended by saying, “I’m 52, going through the menopause, but I feel the sexiest, strongest and healthiest I ever have.”
Don’t get me wrong, the menopause is hard work. My skin dried up, I got hot sweats, couldn’t sleep and I looked like I’d aged 10 years overnight.
But it changed my attitude towards myself.
I’m lucky I can take HRT – and once my hormones were back on track so was my libido, zest, energy and the feeling of owning myself and feeling like a woman.
It’s been a long time since I’ve really felt sexy. In my 20s I was self-conscious, naive and too worried what others thought.
I just wanted to be someone else – I didn’t want to be in my skin, because everyone else’s looked more desirable.
In my 30s it was about IVF and pregnancy, where my body just did not feel like my own.
The drugs to encourage ovulation left me feeling bloated, the pregnancy stretched my skin, and the birth was a C-section that cut through the muscles. And don’t get me started on the eight months of breastfeeding!
Pregnancy and being a mum took their toll on my self-esteem. I felt ugly, frumpy and irrelevant. I hated my body, so I gave up – I stopped caring how I looked and used “I’m too tired” as an excuse not to get intimate.
At 40 I had a newborn and a two-year-old, and threw myself into being a working mum.
When both my kids were at school, I got “me time”. So at 45 I set out on the exercise and diet route – starting years of trying to get a six-pack because I just wanted “to get my abs back”.
I might have looked happier on the outside, but on the inside I still felt very body-negative.
Then I turned 50 in lockdown and, going through the menopause, something just clicked.
I had the luxury of time to focus on myself – on skincare, on learning to meditate, breathe and stretch, on eating better.
I invested in a bit of botox, a massage, getting my hair coloured, regular manicures.
And soon I was buying stylish and fashionable clothes, underwear and shoes. I look in the mirror and see my fine lines, but now I smile and wink – because I feel sexy and beautiful inside.
I made peace with my body shape, but accepted I can still get it looking strong and feeling sexy with a bit of physical activity every day.
So now I walk 5K and have a booty that many 20-year-olds would envy!
With wisdom, life experience and an “I don’t care what you think” attitude, many of us women in our 50s are redefining confidence.
You may lose yourself for 20 years in life, but you can find yourself again.
And when you do, you can feel beautiful with it.