When Did I Turn into Shirley Valentine?

Those who follow my blog know I am throwing off my funk and trying new things this year. However – and it’s a big, HUGE, kind of colossal however….I did not intend to find myself sensual dancing at 6pm on a cold February Tuesday night whilst my stepdad babysat my kids….likely wondering why I had trotted out the door to an ‘exercise class’ in red heels and lipstick. Nothing to see here folks – just mummy’s usual workout attire.

I think it’s fair to say that if my intention was to shake things up this year and step out of my comfort zone – this one was more of a bungee jump into my ‘extremely uncomfortable zone’. In fact, so uncomfortable was I that I started writing this blog before I even made it to the dance class.


Because the very thought of it made me cry.

I had always planned to do a couple of dance classes as part of my 2023 ’12 new activities’ pledge (see my blog ‘5 Reasons to Try New Things in Midlife’ to find out why I’m pushing myself this year and you should be too). But I’d envisioned a bit of belly dancing or maybe a delve into Lindy Hop. What I hadn’t expected was a well-timed invite to a Valentine’s edition ‘sensual’ dance class. Think sexy chair dance with a rose between your teeth and you’re about where I was by 7pm that night. I also hadn’t bargained for the suggested dress code – lacy body, tights, full make-up and heels.

The reason for my reaction? I realised I didn’t own a sexy body or anything in the tight department more alluring than a nice thick pair of 40 deniers. I even struggled to muster up a pair of high-heels that weren’t in the ‘reheeling’ pile (thank God for the Zara red boot impulse buy two Christmases ago otherwise, I’d have been there in my Converse).

Most alarming to me was the suggestion of wearing any type of body out in public with just a pair of tights. So I found myself sobbing in an overflow carpark at 9.30 in the morning after school drop-off. TBF – I’m a little emotional at the moment so the reaction may have been higher on the Richter scale than normal but I could not shift the self-doubt – who the hell was I to be trying to be sensual? What on Earth was I going to look like with my tummy rolls busting over my Bridget Jones pants? And what was I doing this for anyway with my current single-parent status? Stay home my insecurities yelled….eat pizza with the boys in your PJs and leave the lap dancing to the proper women.

And then it hit me. I had turned into Shirley Valentine.

Slowly and surely, bit by daily grind bit, I had completely lost touch with my sassy self and have become a middle-aged, M and S practical pants-wearing wife and mother. The kind whose legs don’t so much need shaving by the time I get round to tending them – more a full-on strim. Don’t get me wrong – many aspects of my life are fabulous but my feminine and sensual side seems to have done a runner somewhere along the way.

How Do We Lose Touch With Our Sensual Selves?

This blog is not for delving into the myriad reasons that women like Shirley and myself might lose sight of our sensual selves but I can’t help thinking that society’s perceptions and expectations of women haven’t helped us much.

Being a modern female requires a lot of time and energy – mainly focused on making sure everyone else is happy while also still bringing home the bacon. And how much guilt / shame / judgement still exists around females expressing their sensual and sexual side….particularly ‘after a certain age’? Too much. And God forbid we should enjoy and appreciate our own body, feel confident in our own skin whatever our shape, size or age – no ladies, put it away if you’re not 20-something and a size 8.

Sensuality shouldn’t just be about sex – it is about positively experiencing your body and the World around you in a pleasurable, joyful and fun way. It is connecting to all your senses and savouring physical feelings, smells, sights, sounds and flavours – be that sexually or just stopping and spending some quality alone time with a warm bath, essential oils and nice body lotion – really enjoying the feel, smells and different sensations. I mean – I love my bath (if you read my blog you’ll know it’s a regularly featured guest) but it’s rarely uninterrupted and has become more of an extension of my work desk (great place to post social posts and listening to wellness podcasts).  Simply enjoying it as a sensory experience? Nope, don’t remember the last time that happened.

Anyway – I realised my meltdown meant I blooming well HAD to do this dance class and I had to push myself to at least vaguely look the part. So I waltzed into my local pharmacy and bought the brightest lipstick I dare, because I realised I didn’t have anything more exciting than several shades of nude. 1st win!!!

I genuinely couldn’t do the body thing (baby steps and all that) but I did wear body skimming gear and dusted off the red boots. Genuinely – they needed dusting….that’s how long they’d been languishing in the bottom of the wardrobe.

But I made it into the dance studio, my equally nervous friend in tow. And here’s the thing – whilst we both stood there awkwardly putting on our heels with what was basically just sports gear, the other women from the class happily and confidently sauntered around in lacy lingerie, fishnets and killer heels. Midlife women – all different shapes, sizes and nationalities, in they waltzed tummies proudly out, bums barely covered, hair fluffed and ready to rumble. I was in awe – how did they DO that?

I’ll be honest – I spent at least 30 minutes wanting to leave. My usual default is to laugh my way through something uncomfortable….but this was serious stuff…..there were roses to be nibbled and chairs to be straddled – all in front of floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Everything was very tastefully done but I was possibly the most uncomfortable I’d been since trying to explain the beginning of the film ‘Look Whose Talking’ to my kids after I thought we’d watch a retro classic together at Christmas.

And then I realised I was not alone. My friend was dying slowly inside too. She was struggling to even look in the mirror. One of my younger, badass, hot mama, athletic-bodied friends – who could probably even make my greying cotton sensible pants look sexy – was struggling to relax into the self-caressing and hip thrusting currently underway. So this being out of touch with our sensual selves thing is not just reserved for the more curvaceous 40 plusers amongst us – it’s an epidemic of Covid proportions!!!

The good news?

We left.

I’m kidding. We had a chat – very quickly between bum rolls – but an honest one all the same. We shared how we felt completely out of our depth and completely out of touch with this side of ourselves. Our other fabulous friend who had invited us assured us that you get into the swing of things quickly (she had and looked incredible), so we watched the other women genuinely appreciating their own bodies in the mirror and we cracked on, sizzling pouts, sassy struts and chair straddling with the best of them.

After 2 hours….yes really….this was a commitment….we were saucing it up like pros (well- not quite but like two women who might have just uncovered a sassy side from somewhere under their Nike hoodies). We even posed for the sexy photo shoot at the end – one of us might have even borrowed a pair of lacy pants for the occasion but I’m not telling you who 🙂

And as my partners in crime noted afterwards – we did the whole thing without alcohol and even had a smile on our faces at the end!!!

What I Learnt

This dance class is exactly why I’m doing new things. Like all you midlife women out there – I am more than a wife, mother, colleague and friend and there are sides of me I have lost touch with or have maybe never even uncovered before.

I am not dead yet and neither are my lady bits, but I do need new undies (I actually went out the very next day and bought two pairs of lacy knickers).

Most importantly, there are too many gorgeous midlife women out there (mostly from Northern Europe it seems) who need to find their inner sass and sensuality!! It’s in us all and is a key part of our femininity. Finding it is an act of self-love and acceptance, it’s another way we can express and be true to all aspects of ourselves. You don’t need to trot off to your local sensual dance class (although I would recommend it!) but do jump in that bath, head to the lingerie shop and grab yourself something wholly impractical but gorgeous or read a saucy novel –  off you go ladies –  you deserve it. If this all feels a bit much right now – then that’s ok too – start with finding little ways to love and appreciate yourself more. There are some tips and hints in my blog New Year. New Me. No Thanks and here are some easy ways to start exploring your sensuality more.

6 Ways to Reconnect with Your Sensual Self

If you’ve found ways to connect with your sensual side in midlife let me know in the comments and share your tips with us all.

If you like what you’ve read and would like more practical information and tips on nutrition, lifestyle and mindset for midlife women then I’d love it if you followed me at motherflushingmidlife at the social links below. And if anyone you know might benefit from my content, let them know where to find me xx

About me

Hi, I’m Suzanne, midlifer, Transformational Coach and Nutritional Therapist.

As a midlife and menopause coach I work with women ready to prioritise their needs, be proactive with their wellbeing and navigate towards the bright and vibrant future they deserve.

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