A friend gave me an article yesterday written by Veronica Henry for The Daily Mail. It is all about being invisible at 40 and it is so true for many women. She says “The fashion industry doesn’t know I exist. My boss looks straight through me. The kids ignore everything I say and my husband wouldn’t notice if I served dinner naked”.

After focusing on either a young family or a career generally in our 30’s, our 4th decade can be a little confusing. Especially if you suddenly get divorced around your 40th birthday. Then things get really hard. Suddenly you have to start going out again. To clubs. Wearing your daughter’s crop top and leggings (I promise I never did that) or something vaguely trendy that you feel too old in. Spending time trying to look young and gorgeous is however pointless. You will still look like the mother trying to find her wayward child.

So. I am beginning to think that 40-something women need some guidance. What should we be wearing? Not skinny jeans as rest of body meets in middle and it’s really uncomfortable – fat pulled up and over, bosoms tucked in to waistband. We simply CAN’T (although we really want to) go the elasticated waist route for at least 20 more years. I want to wear ankle boots but my daughter then gets cross that I’m trying to copy her style – which I am. I have lost my fashion direction. NEED HELP.

Next issue is the fact that teenage kids take the piss all the time and have no respect and I spend my life saying “no” until they’ve worn me down SO much I don’t care anymore. Need to take a course in how to get my teenagers to respect me. No forget it. That won’t work. Need to ignore them more and find amazing fascinating well paid job until they start thinking that maybe I have something worth saying.

Next issue is finding a suitable man if you haven’t got one. Not too young. Not too old. How? Where should we be going to find him? Friends of no help whatsoever – suggestions range from internet dating, to sitting in a wine bar in town with a briefcase trying to look clever and single, to the zoo on a Saturday to find divorced dad to well, lots of other stupid ideas. Several friends currently on internet dates having a nightmare time. Will have to write about that at a later stage. Do younger men like women in their 40’s? Why? One male friend told me recently that whilst women in their 20’s obviously gorgeous and young and fun, women in their 30’s may want babies and marriage and consequently women in their 40’s who have had their kids are a pretty good option. Women in their 50’s and 60’s generally seem to be having a fantastic time. OR would an older man be better? Older men who prefer younger women seem to like them very much younger, which means that I’m going to have to start going on Saga holidays to target 60+ year olds and I don’t want to do that.

LASTLY and most importantly is the matter of “to wax or not to wax” which I’ve written about before. This is a major problem for women in their 40’s who are back out on the “dating” scene. APPARENTLY according to my male sources all the younger girls are floating about with NO pubic hair. IS THAT TRUE? I know a few women who always have a Brazilian or a Hollywood these days but frankly in the older woman I do think it’s more camel hoof than object of desire.

It really is bothering me though. I mean if it’s now the norm in the younger generation and then you meet a bloke who is used to that norm and then he has to fight his way through layer upon layer of undergrowth in a Ray Mears sort of way that he’s not used to, it’s going to horrify him and he’ll never get over the trauma OR he may not actually make it, having died of suffocation in the process or otherwise simply get lost forever and never be found.

I’m only mulling over these problems because I haven’t really got to worry about them (at the moment) you understand….I’d just like to be prepared (once a Brownie, always a Brownie – oh no, given context that now sounds rude).

Thoughts please.

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  1. You make three points that all warrant a response.

    Firstly, how should 40 year old women dress? Being no fashionado, I can’t answer that but can offer some advice according to my personal taste. Never dress mutton as lamb; it is a truly awful look. The real issue is that mutton doesn’t need to be disguised as lamb as it is delicious to eat just as it is. I think women in their 40s are sexy and they should dress in a sophisticated and glamourous manner whether they are wearing jeans or a ball gown. But avoid the high maintenance look. You can spot it miles away and it carries connotations of drama and heartache.

    Secondly, partners and their age. I was brought up believing that my partner should be half my age plus seven. Sadly, I have never managed that. Girls in their 30s are certainly very scary and only want you for your sperm count. I am lucky enough to have children and therefore don’t need more. Instead, I agree with your friend who thinks women in their 40s have advantages. Certainly, the pressure is off as their children are growing up and the fun begins all over again. Remember also, that the best of the bunch from two decades ago are back on the market. This is amazing. Why chase a lower quality 30 year old who can’t find a husband and is deserate when you can get a top quality 40 year old with less pressure? Harsh but true. My new age formula is to add five.

    Finally, pubes. It is true that the youngsters shave. Most scary is that many of the chaps do too! I think a forest is too much but shaven is just wrong. Neatness is the key, but I find pubic hair to be a huge turn on. What’s there to tickle you if it is all gone? Sex is an entirely natural activity and takes us back to our caveman roots. If you are connected to that person, the pleasure is amplified a hundred fold. Passion, sweat, saliva and other juices make it what it is. I vote for pubes.

  2. PS HOW DO YOU KNOW, LD that the youngsters shave?? Or maybe don’t answer that question…Lx

  3. great post as always, darlin’. sigh sigh. i know. you see the thing is i still waft around in my levi flares and um, my silver birkenstocks (she says VERY quietly and in small voice)…which apparently are “out”. quite frankly my dear, i don’t give a damn. and if not, then in old jaamie pants, a stretched old t shirt and my sheep skin slippers because i have given up going out. can;t be fagged really. lounge about at home on the hill, quaffing back wine and smoking like a bastard watching nip and tuck. all terribly unhealthy, what. so i am rubbish at giving any advice. I NEED IT. and re the pubes, well, now you see them now you don;t sorta situation….waxing is BLOODY sore. won;t be doing that again in a rush. what on earth for? must must MUST try harder. xxx

    • You don’t have to – I know the whole point is that it’s not meant to be all about finding a man, but you have a lovely man who clearly thinks your silver birkenstocks are the height of fashion Lxx

  4. OMG

    I’ve just read LD’s response. In the [highly unlikely] event of me ever finding another bloke, he should be hitting his century! Oh, oh, oh … dating someone who’s getting his card from the Queen. I think not!

    As for “What’s there to tickle you if it is all gone?”. The horrible answer, m’dear, is stubble. Vile thought. A little light topiary, perhaps?

    On the subject of mouton. Well, I’m considerably older than you and I don’t have the slightest inkling to go down the elasticated waist road for a long while. I’m aiming at, and largely missing, the Twiggy kind of look. In a couple of years, I might have to go for the Lumley/Mirren kind of look.

    Kids. Well, they have to go to come back. Madette and I had a turbulent time in her teens. “You don’t understand me” “You’re bloody right. I have no idea”. But recently she fessed up that she might be turning into me. Seeing two young girls (rugrats, was how she described them) shoplifting in WH Smith, she said in ringing tones “Put that back immediately”. They dumped the swag and legged it. Then she realised that she’d borrowed my script.

    As for picking up blokes. Like the idea of the zoo. You could always come back with a meerkat or penguin if the men are rubbish.

    Don’t be invisible. How’s that fab little motor? You can’t possibly be invisible in that.

    Mad x

    • You’re RIGHT!! My CAR. I need to drive it around at all times not being invisible. Am going to try naked too. As an experiment. Bet nobody notices (actually, hope nobody notices) Lx

  5. It sounds like you’re looking for a 35-year-old barber with no dress sense.

    P.S. I’m sorry, I just can’t do serious very well. But seriously, don’t homogenize yourself – be yourself and if they don’t like it sod ‘em. It worked for me.*

    *I write this from a squalid bedsitter in Balham with hot and cold running rats. My wife and children left me years ago and my last girlfriend, if that was her gender, is doing porridge. Actually, I could do with some porridge or even corn flakes as I haven’t eaten for days. Still, I’m my own man….

  6. Interesting!! As usual, I will not comment at all about fashion :) Being 40 and married to a 50 year old, I am probably a most extreme case of invisibility, and I just can’t imagine getting out and about on the dating scene again, it would be very daunting… Teenagers are just impossible, aren’t they? at least they bring us to reality and lighten up our lives though! I do miss our lot when they aren’t around, but they can drive me mad when they are!!

  7. Oh God I think LDs response is fantastic….and so bloody reassuring! I am pondering all these questions myself too – particularly now I am dealing with ex’s younger career girlfriend who is, quite frankly, me 15 years ago. You would have thought he’d have learnt his lesson on that one… As for pubes, I was shocked at book club recently when the conversation moved on from anal sex (I kid you not – and the revelations are possibly TMI to ever share on my blog – suffice to say I left slightly stunned by people’s experiences) onto waxing and most of the women there (all mums in their late 30s) seemed to take it for granted that waxing it all off was absolutely a given these days. Euuuuw. Sorry, but I don’t really want my fanny to look like a child’s – whether it turns a man on or not.

    Love the remark ‘the best of the bunch from two decades ago are back on the market’. What a fantastic perspective and one that I will try to take to heart. I have a lot more to offer in my 40s than I ever did in my 30s…now that I know that I guess it’s only a matter of time before a member of the opposite sex appreciates it too.

  8. well if a woman in their 40s are invisible how do you think women in their 50’s are??? I could tell you…I have a post in draught about a photo wher l blend into the stone l’m standing against and the analogy was the wallpaper one, so l should publish it l guess…..fact or fiction, its how we feel….and being under par just now, hence the fainting post…I dont know where l start or finish….

    and btw yes they do all wax l’m told by my 18 year old…..dont like the prepubescent look….but who am l to say in this modern day…
    got l feel even worse now….

  9. I don’t feel invisible at 40. Now that I’m on the other side of my divorce, and my kids are out of diapers, I feel like I’m alive again. I was a heck of a lot frumpier 10 years ago. I get more attention now, too, and I think it’s mostly because I feel better about myself, and have a spark that was missing before. (Losing 10 pounds, glasses and a wedding ring made a difference, too!) I just hadn’t really bothered for a long, long time.

    I’m also keeping my bush :)

    Isn’t 40 the new 30?

  10. Wow, I’m still reeling at London Dad’s reply. And I totally agree that less is more in the er… ladygarden department,but nothing is just wrong. I don’t want to look like a 12 year old child in ANY area, let alone that one!

    Style wise, I have nothing. I’m still working the boyfriend jeans, vest and baggy cardigan look that I have done for about five years. I have recently purchased a new pair of fetching red wellies though. You can call me Donatella :)

  11. I think I’m just going to hang on to the Ball & Chain for a bit longer. I can’t face all of this self-inquiry!

  12. I know what you mean about fashion -I’m not ready for beige but I don’t want to look like mutton dressed up as lamb and still would secretly like to look fairly funky but how ???

  13. I am having a similar dilemma regards wardrobe, whilst not yet in my 4th decade I am hurtling towards it at breakneck speed. My real issue is just how short should one wear ones skirts? I’m not talking Liz MacDonald style here, but is a shortish skirt with opaque tights and flat long boots acceptable? Sometimes just getting dressed is all a bit much and then I realise that I live in the back of beyond and fashion isn’t exactly high on most people agenda, thank god for that, I can continue with dressing inappropriately for a while longer until someone actually asks me my age!

    As for the lady garden – poor t’husband! Enough said.

    Oh and I own 3 pairs of birkenstocks, I so need to throw those away they do nothing for my calves!

  14. Try being 64. I’m reduced to a little squeaky voice just like him in “The Fly”. And I’m now devastated to find my gold birkenstocks are no longer de rigeur. I need them for my fallen arches.

    Mind you, you’ll find you won’t have the pubes dilemma as time passes!

    • OH NO what happens to pubes as we get older then? I thought they just went grey – do they fall out? How long have I got before I don’t have to contemplate a brazilian? Lx

      • Yup. I just keep getting balder and balder. And what’s left has gone grey. Old age is not for cowards. Or vain women, unfortunately. I’ve had to become entertaining to compensate, but just occasionally I want to fling myself on the floor, drum my heels and sob. Dx

  15. Yes was so pleased your kids called you a loser it seems to be banded about a lot in my direction and of course you have to SHAVE with a BIC !!

  16. belated pube related reply. I am 20something. So are my friends. I have asked the closest among them. Not a single one of them has seen fit to reduce her pubes to almost nothing. And nonetheless there are boyfriends and lovers on the scene. Only two live in London though. Maybe its a London thing?

    • OH PHEW!!! Thanks very much for that – i can’t tell you how relieved I am to know that not all 20 somethings know what I’m talking about. Perhaps its an urban myth then….or a jungle myth more like. Lx

  17. Great post and discussion.

    Was unsure whether to contribute… this is not a sob story and I know my situation is somewhat different to most – but I just wanted to point out that age is not the only factor in feeling “invisible.” As a married woman in her thirties, I feel I am ignored by many women who live in my street because I don’t have a pushchair with me. I’m not in their gang, and therefore, not really worth trying to say hello to. I also have a couple of friends in their 30s who haven’t met the right guy and I know they feel “inivisible” both socially and even sometimes professionally, because they don’t have a ring on their finger.

    As for waxing down there – when on a chemotherapy regime, all that fell out temporarily and I absolutely HATED it. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. That is what little girls look like, not grown women. Besides which, it sounds extremely painful!! X

    • Thanks Jo – your comments frankly put everything into a far more realistic perspective. Everything can be turned around and looked for from a different angle. Of course having had children in my 30’s I fitted right into a group in the same position. Of course women who choose not to/can’t have children feel excluded from that particular clique. Of course women without a partner in their 30’s feel equally “different” from the norm.

      Of course dealing with chemotherapy puts a whole different perspective on everything and it’s made me feel bad that I’ve been discussing the removal of bodily hair in such a light hearted way when you and many others like you are going through something far more serious. Grown women have hair. Fact. We should embrace the fact, roll about in it, tie it into plaits whatever it takes and feel very, very lucky.

      Thanks for your very, very brave reply Lx

  18. The conclusion that most people who have responded to this post by saying NO to waxing everything off because it just ain’t right, actually made me feel like I wasn’t a complete wierdo for finding that bit really horrible, even though it was not my choice at the time!!

    And I didn’t want anyone feel bad about light hearted discussion. I really think that if you can find humour in your circumstances, no matter what is going on, then that is a much better way of dealing with it. I actually find it less isolating to know that others feel invisible for different reasons – not that I would wish it on anyone. It’s a bit like grown up bullying sometimes, and just not very nice.

    Remind me of that next time I ignore someone unnecessarily… am sure we all do it sometimes xx J

  19. Oh God, I wish my husband found pubes as exciting as LD does! He is not a fan, at all. And when I was pregnant I promised myself I would try a bikini wax because if I couldn’t cope with the pain how the hell would I cope with labour? I chickened out.

    Really enjoying your blog.

  20. For me Ray Mears is the greatest exponent of Bushcraft techniques. His television series have done a lot to inform people and popularise interest in the outdoors, bushcraft and the skills of indigenous peoples.

  21. I keep reading good comments of this book about it and looking forward to reading it.

  22. I used to use stringing to remove my unsightly hair but it was so uncomfortable that I had to quit. I gave electrolysis a try and it worked somewhat but was really time consuming. So then I tried laser hair removal and was suprisingly happy. I actually bought the silk n sensepil and was extremely pleased with the final outcome. It gave me permanent hair removal at an unbelievable price. I certainly recommend it to anyone instead of stringing.

  23. I think its terribly sad that as soon as you hit forty people start telling you what not to wear, women come in all shapes and sizes and some are more fit then others,so how can a person judge what women in their forties should wear. I think its all about personal style which you can have at any age,if you look good in skinny jeans then keep wearing them.I’m forty seven and I still wear skinny jeans but now I tend to wear them with a longer top whereas before when i was younger Id wear a short top. I sometimes wear similar clothes to my adult daughters but in a more sophisticated way. I don’t want to look like I’m in my twenties but I don’t want to be wearing thoes box like dresses that have been designed to kill us slowly from depression.
    As for the brazilian I don’t get it,I think its odd, neat trim and tidy is more normal but thats just my opinion.
    By the way your blog is very funny!

  24. Pingback:More Linky links: What you and fellow bloggers said about CyberMummy | CyberMummy

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