real life

If you are over 35, you are 'middle-aged'. At least, you were.

Middle age.

There are no sexier words.

“There goes that inspiring, middle-aged woman.” Is a sentence you never here.

“I just can’t wait to be middle-aged.” That’s another one.

And I can’t imagine why. I am there, and, at its worst, “Middle age” is a time of chin-hairs, menopause-panic, a thickening waist, social invisibility, low-level incontinence (peeing when you laugh, basically), the last throes of blood-bath periods, wrinkles, a lowered libido, ageing parents and demanding children.

Come on, what’s not to like?

Us Generation Xers are in denial about being middle-aged. Generation Y – who now fall into the broad definition, since it officially starts at 35 (and ends, apparently, at 58, after which, presumably, the universe just wants to label us ‘ancient’?) – are certainly not down with it.

And because us X and Ys are uppity rule-breakers who like to pretend we’re the first people to have ever lived through anything, we are redefining it.

Enter, the Midult.

What’s a midult? You can listen to Holly, Jessie Stephens and Mia Freedman discuss it, here: 

Two British journalists, Annabel Rivkin and Emilie McMeekan, are the founders of a website called The Midult, and regular contributors to the UK’s Telegraph newspaper under their moniker The Midults.


They are funny, funny women, and their tag for the new middle age is perfect for our times. Because these days, “middle-aged” women are many, many things. And ‘sensible’ is rarely the defining one.

You can be a Midult and single and dating. You can be fully in the grip of Midulthood and have tiny children, or kids who are almost out of home. You can be a Midult who still rocks sequinned tracksuit pants and understands SnapChat (at least, for that brief period when we needed to understand SnapChat). You can be a Midult and smoke weed.

Although I am 10 years into the defining demo, it has only just dawned on me that I am, in fact, a middle-aged woman. I have been side-stepping my way around it with another euphemism a smart British journo brought to my attention – midlife. Mimi Spencer, who is certainly a Midult but looks like a Millennial, is one of the authors of a diet book called The MidLife kitchen, which is all about recipes that boost collagen and help you remember that you forgot to buy milk (I haven’t read it, can you tell?).

So middle-aged, this picture of me at 17 was taken on a real-life camera, with FILM.

Midlife is, for middle-class westerners, at least, a statistically accurately description of our age group. It is unlikely that there are more years ahead of us than behind. But come on, it's so... dowdy.

Midult is pleasing because it feels like it encompasses an energy that the 'middle-aged' women around me embody. Once you get past the chin hairs and the mysterious weight-gain and the eternal battle to get to bed earlier and earlier, your 40s can be an extraordinary time.


You've worked out that eternal navel-gazing question - Who am I?. You give many, many less f*cks. About almost everything, but mostly what other people think about you and all of the little tiny things you do.  You understand that they're not thinking about you at all.

If you're lucky, you've done an edit of the people in your world who were not, in middle-aged businessman speak, "adding value". You have honed in on what matters to you. You have worked out that the things you put your energy into are the things that will define your life, whether they are projects or relationships. You know that it's the ordinary moments that matter, not the ones that make it to the Pool Room (or, you know, the Instagram feed).

You're summoning the energy to make your second act as interesting as your first.

And yes, as and McKeekan and Rivkin write, you might find yourself often standing in the middle of a room, holding a spoon, wondering how you got there.

But you'll be wearing sequined tracksuit pants while you're doing it.

And you won't care what anyone thinks about that.

You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here. 

You can follow Holly on Facebook, here