m***pause!

the 33% targeting taboo

This article; it’s been bubbling about a year.

It’s about what many 40 year old+ women in my network of friends call, ‘the last taboo’. A taboo we still only feel able to mumble about behind our hands when the gin cocktails have taken hold and we’ve crept round the back of the pub for an illicit fag.

I think we must be ashamed of this universal female phenomenon.

It’s called The Menopause. Every woman has one. 13 million of us in the UK are currently ‘in Menopause’. One-third of the female population is in it right now. And symptoms can last for up to 15 years.

There, I’ve gone and said it. Menopause.

Much pencil chewing has gone into writing this. It’s not a political piece; it’s about opportunity. Sad to say, I can’t help but notice the *sniggers* of younger colleagues when I broach it as a hot topic. It suggests I’ve lost my cool. And I’m not cool with that. So I’m doing this for #mygirls. Those Gen X trailblazers I see being brilliant every day, and who are now working up an actual sweat because of this thing called Menopause.

Menopause feels like winter attacking; with heat lamps. It’s climatic change. Where once you were a veritable goddess of fertility suddenly the tundra moves in; only the smallest of plants now grow; everything starts to feel rocky and barren. Hair whitens and thins; collagen stores move south. There’s a lot of flushing, many times a day; in bed, in meetings, on trains. And sleep gets broken. Moods swing. Bon mots evaporate at critical junctures in otherwise colourful conversations. And sticky HRT patches leave little red, track-like, rashes all over your bottom; that’s Menopause chic.

And crucially, it’s about ageing. It’s about crossing the invisible Iine. Our societal sell-by date. But is it really time for us menopausettes to kick off our Acne Pistol boots?

Let’s think about the power of Gen X women; a gloriously feisty bunch. Glass ceilings have shattered around us. We’ve made it onto big boards. We’ve helped transform Maternity from a prehistoric ‘stop & drop’ system to a one of quasi-enlightenment. We continue to fight for equal pay and representation. Sexual everything has been singled out. We have wonderfully equal partnerships at home. We are the mothers nurturing a principled new breed of young Gen Zs.

And the fact is we have 20+ years of potentially ball-breaking economic productivity ahead us. We will be the first mass generation of females working to a minimum age of 67. And we will, quite simply, need to be at the peak of our wellbeing, operating with all our synapses firing, way beyond the point society might want to ‘shrink-to-fit’ us into the traditional mid-life mould.

Marketing is dismissive of, scared of, disinterested in, I’m not exactly sure which, ageing women. There, I’ve gone and said that too. In this age of purpose, very few brands have stood up for us in a relevant way. Maybe Dove? Yes, ‘A Mother’s Body’ touched a nerve. So too No.7’s Alessanda Ferri film as she dances battle-scarred, beautiful, and ‘Ready for More’. But overall there is a real paucity of conversation and innovation. Just hunt around the pharmacy shelves. Where are the Aesops or the Boots inviting us to do it naturally? The funky, older Ella’s drawing up soy-rich natural food plans? Just cobwebs. Enough said.

This is a ginormous market gap to fill; to have bold ideas within; to talk about. A new wave of 45+ woman is now eagerly awaiting someone to champion us through Menopause, and to help us tackle head on the underlying ageism that comes with it. So who will help break the last taboo? Who will claim a slice?

The Menopause is not about ‘change’; it’s about ‘continuation’. It’s about getting up and just getting on being the wonder women we’ve always been.

So who will cool us down on the way?

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First published by The Marketing Society, December 2017