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Menopausal? Yes. But at 50 I’m hotter than I was in my 20s

I’m new to being 50 and I’m waiting for it to happen to me: the moment when I vanish without trace. My 51st year started with the B-list French celebrity Yann Moix making global headlines after saying that women over 50 were invisible. (Fun fact: he had to put out a request to stop fiftysomething women spamming him with pictures of their perky body parts in the aftermath. Poor him. )

It turns out that he prefers the “extraordinary” body of a 25-year-old. The thing is, at 50 I know I am objectively more attractive than I was in my 20s, when I was unhappy, insecure, overweight and all round not conventionally hot. I am more attractive than I was in my 30s (raising young kids and juggling a big day job with splitting up with their dad) or in my early- to mid-40s (perimenopause hitting hard and somewhat losing my shit, or at least my way, for a few years).

It took me until my late 40s to start to see myself more clearly. I ditched my career, the kids ditched me (empty nest, not family row), and I began a new life as a performer and standup comedian. Everything was exciting and wobbly and up for grabs and now, performing on stage, radio and TV, I feel I have never been more visible.

In an article about looking forward to the menopause recently, the Observer’s Eva Wiseman had me nodding in agreement right up until the mention of the “linen blazers” and “big plastic jewellery” she seems to think all menopausal women succumb to.

At newly 50, I’m as likely to don a “swishy cardigan” as I am to run for a bus in my knickers, or to run for a bus at all. Much is said of the happiness curve that goes up in your 50s, but is there an assumption that the experience of increased happiness is connected to losing one’s looks? Because I see nothing contradictory about being a woman in your 50s and still being, or indeed wanting to be, fanciable. And I don’t expect this to stop in my 60s, 70s and beyond.

The unflinching monologue on womanhood delivered by Kristin Scott Thomas’s character Belinda in the latest season of Fleabag in which she spoke of the menopause being something to celebrate because you feel free, no longer “a machine with parts”, will surely be on the curriculum by the time all the babies called Archie start school.

But I still care whether strangers think I’m pretty, and about whether I’m wearing the most flattering jeans style. And I still worry that my career may be the next thing to crumble to dust, right after my ovaries. If not caring about those things would be liberating, perhaps I have yet to be liberated or to stop being a crap feminist. Yet I do feel freer now – as if, after a five-decade gestation, I’ve given birth to a darling little bundle of self-esteem.

Being single and 50 doesn’t mean that I’m not out dating lovely, eligible people. But just like a real person, I’ll stay single until I find a relationship worth not being single for; I’m guessing the people I’m dating feel the same way. The menopause isn’t redemptive – it’s full of pain and loss, sweat and tears; and above all, it isn’t one-size-fits-all. But I’m feeling better on the inside than I’ve ever felt (still a mess, but a bit less of one) and OK with how I look on the outside.

So don’t make pitying assumptions about invisible women. Maybe the only thing you can’t see is how good things are. Invisibility is one of the UK’s most wished-for superpowers, after all.

Cally Beaton is a comedian, speaker and performer and her show Invisible is on at the Edinburgh Fringe, Assembly George Square Studios, 31 July-26 August

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