I was recently looking for an image for my website to accompany the link to the section on my menopause page. I hadn’t been happy with the images my website designer had provided – the first one was just a bit too glam. The replacement was a woman who looked as though she was going to cry at any minute. Given that I’m constantly contacted by women who see the menopause as a time to re-evaluate, focus on their health and fitness and establish exactly what makes them happy and fulfilled – in short, taking control of this point in their life in a positive way – hunched-up-crying-lady didn’t sum the message I was trying to convey.
And so, I started my own search on one of the big ‘royalty free’ image sites by typing in ‘menopause’. What greeted me were images of middle aged women swooning and sighing; wiping sweat from their brow; looking pensively into the distance; holding their heads in angst and downing painkillers. It was like looking at a visual representation of a Victorian gothic novel – the horrors of menopause. Admittedly there were a few jolly looking ladies, but for every smiley face there were twenty women who looked as though they were unlikely to make it to lunchtime without a stiff gin to wash down their paracetamol.
Menopause is a natural change in a woman’s life. Yes, there are hormonal changes which need adapting to. And yes, these changes often coincide with big life events such as older children leaving the family home and pressures of coping with elderly parents. But at the end of the day, life is never easy. It’s always changing. There are always pressures to adapt to. Why is menopause portrayed so negatively in the media? I work with women every day who are menopausal and, although they may have difficult times, they see it as an opportunity to redress the imbalances in their lives, pursue their interests and actively pursue the second half of their lives.
In my continuing quest for an image which fitted the message of my website, I typed in ‘older woman’ and found a nice, healthy looking woman enjoying the outdoors. Let’s keep getting the message out there that menopause isn’t a guaranteed few years of angst and strife and celebrate this point in a woman’s life as a time of self awareness and development.