I had the privilege of attending Gen-M’s annual menopause market analysis conference, a one-of-a-kind event that has been tracking sentiment around the topic of menopause for the last 3 years.
The insights, the output of research with 2,000 women between the ages of 35 and 65 were sobering. On the back of National Menopause Month in the UK, it could be easy to assume that the lived experience of females entering perimenopause is changing. And yet the reality is that the same number of people interviewed feel blind-sided when symptoms first hit. And, although awareness of the breadth of symptoms is growing, we are also seeing a growth in women reporting a loss of confidence in midlife and, perhaps in part an influencing factor, a higher proportion of us feeling unattractive as we transition into menopause too.
The obvious question is quite simply, why? Why, with more conversation taking place, with more innovation, with more and better sources of information, are we feeling worse? Why, when there are more communities, more destinations than ever before, is a sense of isolation rising too?
My feeling, based on the research we do here at MPowder, is that the focus of the narrative is the issue. In shining a spotlight on midlife, the media has highlighted the most distressing experiences. In lobbying for greater support and empathy at work, well-intentioned companies have pathologised a life stage. Research this year has also revealed that females are increasingly hiding their symptoms for fear of being overlooked for promotion. This happens the most, unsurprisingly, amongst females in senior positions.
The answer is straightforward too. We need to amplify all voices in midlife and beyond. Practitioners like Gabriella Espinosa of Your Menopause Story and Karen Arthur of Menopausal Whilst Black are doing great work to challenge preconceptions as well as agitating to rebalance representation too. Midlife models. Practitioners telling stories of strength, empowerment, opportunity. Brands that celebrate the liberation that comes with wisdom and age. Products that intelligently apply insight to develop better solutions without shaming the ageing process too.
But I believe it’s sharing individual lived experiences that will make the biggest impact. As a community of midlife women, we are the story! Your voice is what someone needs to hear.
Tell yours. The messiness, the frustration, the grief, the humour, the liberation, the transformation. It matters. To ensure we address the isolation. To ensure we lift others up when they’re feeling low. And to ensure we change the narrative for those that follow too.
We hold the power. Let each of us commit to use it.
With love, Rebekah and The MPowder Team.
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