Dawn O’Porter: ‘I fantasise about the other side of menopause’

Dawn O’porter: ‘I Fantasise About The Other Side Of Menopause’
Dawn O'Porter
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By Prudence Wade, PA

Knowing her limits is a “revelation”, says Dawn O’Porter, something she discovered in her mid-40s.

For the former TV presenter and author – her latest book, Cat Lady, which was released in October last year – it’s something she’s had to learn.


“I love drinking booze and eating really indulgent food, but I’m also really into health stuff as well,” she says.

“I’m one of those people that’s really good – if I go to a party and it gets to 10:30pm [and] I’m not really feeling the booze, I just stop drinking – but I can stay out until two in the morning. I’m able to turn it off, and I don’t overindulge when I’m done – which I think is a real mid-40s revelation.

“I know my limits – I go to everything, I do everything, I just stop when I know I’m done.”

For O’Porter, 44, who shares two sons, Art, eight, and Valentine, six, with actor husband Chris O’Dowd, becoming a mother helped shift her perspective.


“Since I’ve had kids, I know that I’m going to get woken up at six o’clock in the morning – you’ve got to make better decisions,” she says.

“Like everybody, if I don’t do the work, I don’t get paid – and I don’t have the luxury where I can’t get paid. I have to be at my desk at 10 o’clock in the morning, and before I’ve got to my desk I’ve had to feed two humans, get them dressed, get them to school, walk two dogs, pull the house together and do all this stuff.


“I know now that when I go on a big night out – which I do all the time, I love it – the next day is a write-off, so I can only do that once a week. It used to be three or four times a week, and it didn’t affect me in the same way.

“I definitely feel like it’s a great thing to get to an age when you know what you can and can’t handle.”

This “willpower” is something she admits she “didn’t used to have”.

But dedicating time to her wellbeing is important, as being in your 40s is a “weird time”, she admits.


“You know what’s coming – menopause is coming. What are we in for? So I feel like I’m going to do my very best for myself until that happens. It might be fine, it might not – I don’t know.”

Dawn O'Porter with husband Chris O'Dowd
Dawn O’Porter with husband Chris O’Dowd (Hannah McKay/PA)

O’Porter adds: “It feels nice to go into it in the best health you can be. I’m not an exercise person – I get really into Pilates for two months and never do it again – so I’m consistent about healthy food and skincare and all that kind of stuff.”


She’s reminded of a speech Kristin Scott Thomas makes about menopause in the BBC black comedy Fleabag, where she says: “It is horrendous, but then it’s magnificent – something to look forward to.”

O’Porter adds: “As someone who has had cramps and really suffered for so much of my life, I fantasise about the other side of menopause – it’s like this giant mountain you have to get over.

“I might smooth through it and not even know it’s happening, or I might be one of those people who has a very difficult time – I’ve got no idea. I just want to feel good when I go into it.

“I do feel like there’s this freedom on the other side – I’ll be rid of all the things that have weighed me down physically for so many years, and be pain-free and happy.”

A healthy diet is particularly important for O’Porter, who can’t eat gluten because it causes her “quite severe pain”.

She says: “I have to think about food a lot more than people who can eat gluten – I really read packages and all that stuff. And I’m obsessed with my skin – I really try and eat food that’s really, really good for my skin.”

Other aspects of her self-care routine include taking supplements (“If somebody says it stimulates collagen, I’ll literally buy 10 of it!”), taking Epsom salt baths and carving out the time to read before bed.

“I think that’s really looking after myself, [so] when I have nights where I’m completely hedonistic and start drinking at 10 o’clock in the morning and don’t get home until four, that’s fine. Because I take care of myself the rest of the time, I think my face survives the hangovers and the dehydration.”

After 15 years living in America, in June this year, O’Porter and her family moved from Los Angeles to London – and she couldn’t be happier to be back.

“There’s quite a transient vibe to LA, because very few people are born and bred there – there are some, obviously, but most people have come out for some sort of work experience they’re having. They either stay or go, and there’s this constant movement of people.

“It was hard to imagine getting older there and settling, there was always this feeling of no matter who we’ve got in our lives, they will come and go – and that unsettled me in the last few years.”

Back in London, “Everything I do is an investment in the future of living here, which feels really lovely,” O’Porter enthuses.

“Every relationship I make – all my girlfriends or my mum friends – everybody is here for keeps.”

Dawn O'Porter
O’Porter is back in London after 15 years in America (Mark Gregson/PA)

She’s particularly looking forward to spending Christmas on this side of the world.

“I started planning Christmas months ago – where we’re going to be, what we’re going to do, because ultimately, I love hosting it. I love doing the whole thing myself.”

She’s hoping to host this year, and foresees absolutely no festive pressures, saying: “It doesn’t stress me out at all, I’d say it’s me at my absolute best.

“I cook like Christmas Day on every Sunday for lots of people, I love it so much. I get really into it and I start drinking about 10 in the morning – it makes it more fun – we play Christmas songs and get the wine going early and cook all day.”

Plus, O’Porter is extremely easy to buy for.

“I’m really easy. I genuinely say this from the bottom of my heart – go on Etsy and put in ‘cat’ and you can get me anything, any handmade anything – if it’s got my name on it, even better, with a cat on it. I am so simple.”

To find thoughtful gifts for loved ones this Christmas and beyond, head to etsy.com/uk.

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