In praise of menopause icons
Thank you to the high profile women who are sharing their personal menopause experiences and helping to break down taboos.
By Bibi Lynch
At last, an open discussion about menopause is taking place. Helping to amplify the conversation are menopause warriors like presenter and author Davina McCall (her book Menopausing: The Positive Roadmap to Your Second Spring, written with Dr Naomi Potter, is out now) and Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause.
When women in the public eye discuss their menopausal symptoms, it starts a conversation that helps the rest of us. Here we salute some of our favourite menopause icons and share their inspirational words on this time of life.
TV presenter and author Davina McCall on menopause confidence.
“It’s a time of liberation. It’s a time of shedding the shackles of inhibition and of giving a damn. That [confidence] is my age — because I haven’t always felt like that. I don’t really care what people think, which is very liberating.”
Labour MP for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris on health equality.
“If the menopause were an illness, or indeed a condition that impacted every man, it’s unlikely that financial support would be so woeful, or public understanding so negligible. Women have suffered long enough – I am determined to change that.”
Actor Patsy Kensit on honest conversations.
“If I have any advice, this is it: be honest about what you’re going through. Half of all humans will face the menopause, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and the more we give one another understanding and honesty, the more we’ll all benefit.”
Former US First Lady, Michelle Obama on changing the narrative.
“The changes, the highs and lows, and the hormonal shifts, there is power in that. But we were taught to be ashamed of it and to not even seek to understand it or explore it for our own edification, let alone to help the next generation.”
TV and radio presenter Lisa Snowdon on liberation.
“I haven’t had a bleed or period for a couple of years now. At first, I was sad to say goodbye to them because I thought it was losing my femininity. But now I’m like ‘Good riddance!’”
Actor and producer, Salma Hayek on the power of ageing.
“There’s no expiration date for women. That has to go because you can kick ass at any age. We have the right to be loved for who we are at the place that we are. We’re not just here to make babies… It’s a misunderstanding that has been going around for centuries.”
Broadcaster and author Mariella Frostrup on taboo-busting.
“It’s a life stage that affects half the world’s population, not a mysterious and toxic failure of the female body that consigns us to a miserable holding pen in preparation for inevitable death.”
TV host and producer, Oprah Winfrey on reinvention.
“So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as a blessing. I’ve discovered that this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else.”
Actor Kim Cattrall on menopause education.
“You wonder: ‘Will I be attractive, desirable, feminine? What is the next chapter of life?’ I think it’s one of the reasons why it’s so taboo is because we don’t talk about it — it’s too frightening even to talk to a doctor about. I want to reach out to women to encourage them to educate themselves about this time in their lives.”
Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Forfar, on ageing fabulously.
“Women having to leave the workplace because of the menopause is tragic. We are fabulous in our 40s, and we are even more fabulous in our 50s, 60s and 70s — and we need to celebrate that and keep opportunities going for women.”