real life

'It's time to get dangerous': Mandy Nolan turned 50 and got wild.
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Mandy Nolan is a comedian, author and regular Mamamia contributor.

I have five children. The oldest is 24, the youngest is 10. Early on, I was a “hot mum” – I was hot in a time before Instagram.

No Insta-photos to like of me in a bikini with a child in a white singlet and amber beads wrapped around my lovely long legs. The only likes I got happened when I pushed my pram past building sites – they weren’t likes you wanted to monetise.

At my 10-year-old’s school, the next mum to my age is 12 years younger than me. It’s so depressing I don’t get out of the car. The other day I had to get a note from the office and a young mum spots me. “I love it when the grandmas pick up the kids.” How rude. Sadly she’s gone missing… or perhaps I have.

Turning 50 surprised me – people weren’t looking at me anymore. In the movie of life I was out of focus. How can I be the fattest I’ve ever been but no one can see me?

Last week I was ignored by a waitress in a bar to serve the man behind me. Yesterday someone nabbed my car space even though I had my indicator on. At home every morning I wrestle a mountain of unfolded washing and my kids just breeze past and pull out their socks and jocks.

I am 51. I have never been smarter, more experienced, more at the top of my game. Then why am I being overlooked?

I will not go peacefully. I will not go with dignity. I will not wear beige – the colour designed to erase us. Nope, no way. It’s time to get dangerous.

It’s time to be embarrassing. To be inappropriate. Completely, freely, fully myself.

mandy nolan
This is me. Deal with it. Image: Supplied.

I belong to a tribe of women who aren’t prepared to disappear. The "invisible women" who know that this next chapter could actually be the most exciting one yet.

Women like Lou Brown and her friends in Australia's first-ever Audible Original drama, The Invisible Women’s Society.

Written by The Bride Stripped Bare author Nikki Gemmell, this six-hour drama tells OUR story, shining the light on the depths of our experience, making us truly visible and declaring once and for all that beige is the new black.


I totally relate to Lou, and a lot of women would in some way. She's looked over at work in favour of a man with half her experience. She's looked over by her ex-husband who’s just re-partnered with a younger model.

She's looked over by her kids. And worst of all, Lou is so used to being looked over, she's looked over by herself! Fortunately she has some pretty gutsy female friends who want to nurture her dynamic, engaged and most powerful self back into existence. These women friends are the life-changing midwives of middle age.

So, like these formidable women in this series, I’m not fading into the background with my adult colouring book. I am living outside the lines.

Here's how:

  1. I got rid of my sensible clothes. I’ve been wearing short shorts. Tiny denim skirts with boots. I proudly show off my 51-year-old legs.
  2. I wear my hair longer than before, and blonder.
  3. I laugh louder.
  4. I stay up later.
  5. Last year I went to a music festival and pushed my way to the front. I was mobbed by intoxicated kids screaming ecstatically –"Stifler’s Mum's in the mosh". I danced like a maniac.
  6. Instead of making decisions that are good for ‘the family or the kids’, I am making decisions about what I want. If I don’t feel like cooking dinner, then I don’t cook it. It’s amazing how visible you become when a meal doesn’t turn up.
  7. I’m looking at a new car. With two doors. A bright coupe, not a bland boxy seven-seater Mum van. And when I drive I might not always let you in, and when you’ve got your indicator on Sir, I’m going to take your park.
  8. I intend to be having loud screaming full-body orgasms. Every day. And if my husband can’t facilitate that I’ll get back up. I’m buying a new vibrator. Damn it, I’m buying two. And I won’t be sacrificing the batteries like I did when my daughter’s Tickle Me Elmo ran out of charge. Mummy went and found the only working C-size batteries in the house. That is an act of love. (You have no idea how long it takes to get off sitting on Tickle Me Elmo).
  9. I’m attending climate change rallies, I’m chaining myself to stuff, and I’m saying what I think.
  10. I'm swearing loudly in public.
  11. I’m doing things that scared me. Like Zumba.

I will not be invisible. I love being 51!

mandy nolan
In the outback after driving a giant, kick-arse 4WD through the dust for three days. YEAH. Image: Supplied.

I’m also learning how to beat the crap out of someone. If anyone tries to attack me and if there’s music playing with the right beat, they’re in trouble. I am a lethal lady. My South American combat instructor said to us the other day, "You women are so nice to everyone, you good mummies, but I not want that. I want to see your dangerous." That was all the permission I needed.

I am 51. I’m sick of being unseen, looked-over and underappreciated. I'm going for more, because I am "more".

So strap yourself in, buddy. See my "dangerous".

For more women over 50 who are living loud and visible, listen to The Invisible Women's Society on Audible today. You won't regret it.

If you're a fan of Nikki Gemmell, listen to Mia Freedman's No Filter interview with the bestselling author. It's a raw chat about what happened when Gemmell got a knock on the door from the police that changed her life forever. Listen to the full interview:

The Invisible Women's Society is the first audio drama by Nikki Gemmel, best-selling Australian author of The Bride Stripped Bare. Listen now, only on Audible.