How Gen X has unmasked the menopause and avoiding ‘menowashing’

Something is slowing shifting in the workplace – a conversation is starting to be had that means the reality of peri-menopausal and menopausal life for women is finally being recognised.

This conversation is long overdue – pity the previous generations of women who couldn’t share symptoms, talk about hot flushes and brain fog, and had to suffer the worst of hormone deficiency in silence.

So, what has changed? What has meant that this life stage – that will impact half the population – has finally started to get the attention it deserves? I’m talking about Generation X. The generation now over 40 years old and entering their menopause years. They have brought their kick-ass sass and get-things-done attitude to middle age. Those women who set their own rules in their teens and 20s, the analogue generation that embraced technology, who stayed true to their sex in the workplace instead of emulating men have used their Gen X spirit to change the dialogue around the menopause. Quiet toleration is not in their playbook.

This has been most evident in the raft of female celebrities of this age championing the cause – from Davina McCall to Miranda Sawyer, Jo Whiley to Zoe Ball. This is not about dismissing the menopause; it’s about looking it in square in the eyes and dealing with it. It’s about acknowledging just how great the impact can be on women’s lives and ensuring that adverse symptoms are mitigated as much as modern medicine and knowledge can allow.

This is a point in women’s lives when they should be thriving – all those years of knowledge and expertise should be benefiting the world and future generations. These are the women who should be developing policies, the pillars of business and government, teaching our children. There is enough research and evidence on symptoms and treatment to protect women from its sometimes devasting impact. And yet, we know too many women are having to leave careers early as well as the terrible increase in the number of 45 – 54 year old women committing suicide.

People like Dr Louise Newsome and her balance website and app are leading the charge in terms of evidence-based solutions. She’s at the vanguard of looking at it medically but through a firmly female-lens and scrutinising the research to dispel myths and focus on the science. And it doesn’t always come down to HRT – there can be many different approaches depending on individual symptoms and physiology.

It’s the epitome of Gen X spirit – women not taking this lying down, something can – and should – be done, so actively changing things is the answer. It’s empowering women with the right information so they can make better choices for themselves. Of course, there is a lot still to be done. Almost three quarters of businesses have no menopause policy so we are nowhere near where we should be.

As this gradual consciousness raising takes hold, brands are inevitably getting involved – and some are doing this better than others. What every business needs to be on its guard for is the menopausal equivalent of greenwashing – let’s call it menowashing – where overclaims and inappropriate connections are paraded as brands caring, when in truth it looks more opportunistic than genuine.

There are myriad symptoms of the hormonal deficiencies of this life stage, which means brands with products or services aimed at alleviating them have many directions they can go. But there are very different approaches taken, as demonstrated by the world of beauty and skincare products for example. We have Boots No7 producing its highly overt Menopause Skincare range while Beauty Pie offers a range of items clearly aimed at menopause symptoms – such as hair growth stimulation and collagen boosting products – but with never a mention of the M word.

It makes the menomoisturiser approach feel outdated – who wants that on their bathroom shelves? Far better to understand the target market, know who you’re talking to and how they’re showing up. Brands don’t have to conflate the need for the product with the messaging around it.

This generation’s unmasking of the menopause has been much needed. This life stage can involve pernicious symptoms that are debilitating for women and that need to be tackled.

This is one of the most important female causes of our time – tackling the double whammy of misogyny and ageism.

If middle aged women can get this right now – it will be to the benefit of all society, and particularly future generations of women who can stay in the workplace and change our work from within.

Perhaps Gen X’s greatest gift to feminism yet.

About the Author

Abigail Findlay, managing director of The Brooklyn Brothers.

Related Posts