by NIKKI GEMMELL
“For me, there are only two kinds of women – goddesses and doormats.”
Ah, the wisdom of Picasso, and it’s well documented he liked them submissive; if they weren’t that at the start of a relationship he’d try to crack them with his cruelty. I thought of this at a gathering of Australian women earlier this year for InStyle magazine; not a doormat among them.
“I want to be you when I grow up,” declared M.C. Jessica Rowe to an older woman among the crowd; cue a stirring of concurrence, a collective girl-crush. The recipient? Jana Wendt. And this with a posse of youthful gorgeousness in the mix – the Mirandas Kerr and Otto, Asher Keddie, Megan Washington. But what was extraordinary: the women who’d been around the block a few times, yet could still rock a black velvet sheath, were getting the lion’s share of the adulation. Middle-aged chicks who were the embodiment of confidence, intelligence, poise, contentment and sheer damned hotness; women completely comfortable in their skin.
All this as I career towards the wintry side of the mid-40s. But it’s not that at all! OK, it feels like there are more eyelids than there used to be and the grey hairs are shooting most unbecomingly heavenward as if they’re already craning for the light, but I don’t see these as years of decline, at all. They’re about burgeoning freedom and power. You see, my speciality once was niceness, acquiesce, the big yes, until I was worn thin from it. Now I’ve found the power of “no”. Am no longer cowed by what people think; still buy Topshop shoes alongside the teenagers, still sneak a banana Paddle Pop now and then, still dance up a storm to James on the iPod: “She only comes when she’s on top.” Apparently 50th birthdays are more fun than 40ths – because you’re much lighter, relaxed. There’s less angst about what you haven’t achieved yet; the intensity of the baby years, for many, has passed and you no longer feel shunted aside from your own life. You’ve reclaimed it, joyously; you’re at peace.