This letter comes with a warning: serious name-drop story ahead. I’m reminded of it as we approach the last days of the 2010s and head into this century’s (roaring? snoring?) 20s. It’s natural to reflect – on it, and ourselves and what we’ve learnt. I think the biggest thing that changed about me can be summed up in this very silly tale from 2016. I found myself on a work trip with the supermodel David Gandy. (I know, my ‘job’ is ridiculous.) On a long car trip, the varied conversation turned to spray tans (we’d already done world peace and geopolitics. Cough). We discussed the good, the bad and the Donald Trump-esque orange. I ventured that, after my first spray tan, my husband emerged from the bathroom, looking traumatised, and said, ‘There’s a horrible colour all over the toilet seat!’, which I realised was my tan residue. This made David Gandy really laugh a lot.
Why is this significant? Younger me would have rather died than share a story with one of the world’s most handsome men that conjured an image of me and a loo seat in the same sentence. But growing older has liberated me from self-consciousness and, specifically, of worrying about what anyone thinks about how I look. We hear a lot about middle-aged women feeling invisible or unattractive – by which is largely meant invisible or unattractive to men. Somewhere in this decade, in my 40s, it hit me: I just don’t care who finds me attractive or ugly. If you think about it, it’s a burden that many of us carry around without fully realising it. I was in my 40s before I would disembark from a 24-hour flight to Sydney without once looking at my face in the mirror. Younger me would have been that annoying woman hogging the plane loo, frantically applying make-up because I was embarrassed about how haggard I looked. Younger me couldn’t even nip out for milk without a full face of paint. Nearly 50-year-old me will stumble out of bed, cover my troll-doll morning hair with a beanie, walk the dog and chat to the neighbours before I remember I have no idea what I look like.
So, as we head into a new decade, I’m not making New Year’s resolutions. I prefer the New Year to be a time of looking back on what we’ve achieved, learned and loved. When I review the 2010s, my 40s, I will remember some fantastic experiences (see above). Or that while I was so nervous about mothering a teenager, actually my daughter is probably the brightest, kindest, funniest human I’ve ever met. I lost a career-defining job and it floored me. But it paved the way for an even better one, editing this magazine and talking to you amazing readers every week. Bad things happen. We lose people we love. Which only makes it more important to focus on the good.
All of these moments have helped me find the confidence to be myself and to stop fearing being ‘an older woman’. To my delight, and a little surprise, I’m excited about heading into my 50s. I don’t know yet what lies ahead, but I’m choosing to wait with optimism. I hope you feel the same sense of adventure. I wish all of you the very best for the coming year and beyond.
A few things I’m coveting this week
This under-the-radar London brand is fast becoming a favourite. Jumper, £65, jovonnalondon.com
£5 from every sale is donated to the Smart Works charity. Scarf, £120, just-add-style.com
For once, if snow hits I’ll be ready. Boots, £389, penelopechilvers.com