New Careers, Confidence & Sex: What Women Can Look Forward To In Middle Age

Photo: Meg O'Donnell
For many so-called millennials, whose own mums had often already had them at the age they are now, it's never been clearer that we are approaching life stages differently than previous generations. Of course, this is rarely by choice, thanks to stagnant wages and sky-high property prices – despite what many obtuse members of older generations may claim. Many of us are delaying and even giving up on some of the traditional markers of adulthood.
However, the silver lining is that we could have more to look forward to as we age. With 40 being the new 30, 50 being the new 40, etcetera, middle age will arguably become an exciting phase of life full of new possibilities. And there's evidence that women are already experiencing "mid life" in this way.
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New research by YouGov on behalf of online retailer JD Williams found that women aged between 45 and 65 are enjoying a new lease of life. More than half (56%) of the 2008 women surveyed said they are more body confident than they used to be – a figure that, encouragingly, increased from 43% in 2016. Around a fifth said their sex life is better now compared to their younger years, with 42% saying they would like to be having more sex.
Dating as we age also appears to be easier than it once was, with nearly 60% agreeing there is less stigma attached to it than there was 20 years ago. More than a quarter (28%) said dating apps have made it easier for women over 45 to get out there and meet potential partners, and a fifth said their age group is more promiscuous than it was 20 years ago. With divorce having become normalised, this is reassuring.
It also seems to be increasingly normal for women to embark on new careers as they age, with 31% having changed careers in their 40s or 50s. A third also described themselves as the main "breadwinner" in their household. The age-old struggle of balancing work and life doesn't seem to abate as we age, however, with only a 30% saying they had achieved it.
Many women surveyed were also excited at the prospect of getting older, with nearly half (44%) saying they were looking forward to having more leisure time and 33% excited about having grandchildren. Nearly a third (30%) looked forward to spending more time with family and friends and promisingly, a similar number said they were excited to travel the world.
Sadly it's not all good news though, with most saying they didn't believe women over 45 were sufficiently represented in the media and fashion industries. Around eight in 10 believe their demographic is not well represented on the catwalk or in advertising, and 70% felt ignored by high street fashion retailers.
Nevertheless, we should take heart that ageing can bring new opportunities and greater confidence in our own skin. Let's just hope more companies don't take too long to follow in the footsteps of brands like Zara and L'Oreal.
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