I’m frustrated and annoyed. Here are some of my beliefs as to why no one has been talking about menopause (until now, that is!):
(By the way, Lean In is partnering with Getty Images to try to eradicate the traditional images that seem to creep into stock images. This is exciting as we are hoping to one day eradicate the stereotypical images for menopause & perimenopause that pop up in our online searches.)
1. On its own, it’s simply not a pretty word. I laboured long and hard over what to call this website before settling on Menopause Chicks. I really wanted to lift the veil on the “M” word, and ideally, would have called it anything other than something with the word “menopause” in it.
But then I had a change of heart.
Menopause: it’s not the word. It’s the frame our society and media have put around it over the years.-Tweet that
At the end of the day, “menopause” is the word people are searching for online. So, does the word Menopause really need a makeover, or do we simply need to re-frame/change the way we think about it?
2. Besides the word itself, the context and HOW people refer to this most natural of life stages is equally important. If you see/hear/read any of the following words in articles or ads, please raise the yellow flag. Menopause is not a “disease” or “ailment”; therefore there isn’t a “cure”, it can not be “reversed”; and we do not always need to put “suffer” and “peri/menopause” in the same sentence!
Don’t misunderstand–some of us do suffer from symptoms associated with hormone imbalance. But menopause (the one date on the calendar that marks the 12 month anniversary of your last period) itself is not something you suffer from. Let’s reframe how we talk about this stage of life so we can celebrate all the positives (and not just focus on the negatives)!
3. The images that menopause and perimenopause conjure up in our minds are not unlike those you find if you google “menopause”. You will typically see gray-haired women looking sad & depressed, and most-likely holding a fan. This one in particular I see EVERYWHERE.
PLEASE don’t write to me if you are a hot, gray-haired woman holding a fan. I love you. With all my heart. It’s just the stereotype I don’t love. Not all peri-menopausal and menopausal woman look one way: the way the media has portrayed over the years. My hypothesis is that these images have lead in-part to the “shutting down of the conversation”; so many people say to me “I’m not there yet” thinking that peri-menopause and menopause isn’t something they need to concern themselves with til their 50s…or til they’ve been slapped on the side of the face with a nasty wake-up call…or ever.
In reality, peri-menopause (the 5-15 years leading up to menopause) can start as early as mid-30s..but when we don’t “look” like the image society has embedded in our minds of what perimenopause/menopause is “supposed to look like”, we think (and treat) it as something else: ie. depression, mood disorder, even dementia. By the way, nasty wake-up calls can be avoided, or at least managed, with tweaks to lifestyle & how we eat, sleep & move.
So, what can WE do to change the images of peri-menopause & menopause, make me less kookoo, and ultimately, change the conversation?
I’d love to hear from you….
All of you…
Gray-haired fan holders too