Ask Mylene Desclaux what happened when she turned 50 and she responds – to-the-point and French as can be – with a series of staccato statements.
“My career was behind me and I stopped working. I was single and met only ‘psychos’. My children were about to leave the nest. My parents needed me more and more,” she tells The New Daily from her home in Paris.
“I felt a kind of vertigo because I had many successes in the past in a lot of fields, but at 50 I had less; less choice, less success, less everything. So I felt lost.”
Desclaux, the former manager of an advertising agency, found a remedy in “a new path”— writing.
Along with swearing to never talk about her age again – so don’t ask – she launched the blog happyquinqua.com (Happy Fiftysomething), “to share the disadvantages, but focus also on the advantages of this age,” she says.
“After 50, I built another rhythm for myself to manage my life more carefully and mindfully; protecting myself from poisonous people, and not engaging in things which may hurt me.”
Today, she shares her exploration of the “quinqua” paradox in her book, Why French Women Feel Young at 50 (Hachette Australia, $29.99), a frank look at relationships, sex, dating, parenting, health and beauty in middle age – all through a fabulous Frenchwoman’s lens, of course.
Asked why she thinks French guides to just about everything have become a publishing phenomenon in recent years, Desclaux shrugs.
“I don’t know the answer except to say that urban French women take care of a lot of things: outfits, fashion, exercise, staying thin, good hair and skin,” she says.
“Clearly there is a fascination with it.”
Her take on finding love over 50 will particularly appeal to anyone who fears the possibility is behind them. Desclaux herself is testament to how fruitful the search can be.
“Yes, it is possible to find The One after 50,” declares the author, who’s in a relationship.
“In the book, I invite the reader to follow my progress and share in my failure. It wasn’t obvious because when I met Michel at 50, he turned out to be exactly my kind of man: same age, good-looking, engaging job – he writes comedies.
“But he was also the kind of man of a lot of other women – younger, prettier, surely cleverer than me – would also be into. So, I put myself out there and it worked.”
For anyone keen to inject a little French flair into their post-50 quest for romance, here are Desclaux’s three top tips:
- Dare to go on dating sites, but specify your requirements in your profile. Lie just a little (remove only two or three years, no more). Don’t worry, he lies also (he adds two or thee cm, no more).
- Consider childhood friends. You know each other, no big risk.
- Don’t appear as though you are looking for someone at any cost. Start by finding your balance alone, project an image of someone positive, kind, happy, who has passions.
Easy for a preternaturally sleek and youthful Parisian to say, you might scoff? With her trim physique honed by daily yoga and pedalling her way around the City of Light, Desclaux presents the quintessential image of Parisian chic.
Pondering her compatriots’ reputation for being the most sexy and confident women in the world: “Maybe it’s all in the head of Anglo-Saxon women?” asks Desclaux, whose best beauty tips are good makeup and “not too much” sun.
“Not all women in France are like Ines de la Fressange or Caroline de Maigret, but I’m happy for our reputation as ‘elegant, sexy and confident’ to continue!”