As a wellness brand geared towards helping women traverse perimenopause and menopause, we at Bonafide have always been committed to menopause education – and building an atmosphere of positivity and support.
And we're elated to see that we’re not the only ones.
This past fall, we joined other beauty and wellness brands at the first ever Menopause CEO Summit in New York to talk not only about how the landscape of menopause is changing for the better, but also the work that still needs to be done to normalize this transition – and to help women gain access to the information and resources they need to live their best lives during menopause and beyond.
Created by menopause education advocate Stacy London (yes, the same Stacy London from TLC's What Not to Wear), the inaugural Menopause CEO Summit gathered thought leaders and influencers in the space of menopause health to start a conversation on crucial topics including menopause-focused research, education, legislative reform, and reframing how our culture sees women as they get older.
"The end of fertility is a time in your life that becomes a new transition, a new iteration. It’s not a failure. It’s not 'past your expiration date.' And the more that I talk to women about this experience, the more I realize how much internalized shame they have around [menopause]," London says.
The Shifting Menopause Culture and Community
There's an increasing sense of openness and positivity surrounding menopause culture today. But that wasn't always the case. Just a generation prior, menopause was practically a forbidden topic. Middle-aged women weren't going through menopause in movies or on TV shows, and if they were, it wasn’t a focus or it was positioned as a joke. And our moms and aunts certainly weren’t very open in talking about their symptoms with us.
This silence has left many women who are going through perimenopause and menopause today, woefully underprepared for this major life transition – London included. "I didn't realize that I was in menopause because nobody told me it was coming. Nobody told me what it would feel like," she says. "I didn't know how to connect the dots...and I literally had to figure out for myself what the hell was going on."
Not only are many of us unsure about how to navigate our own new experiences – but we also don’t always know how to talk about it and therefore may not get the adequate symptom and emotional support we need from our healthcare providers,1 or our partners and loved ones.
The good news, is that things are finally starting to change. As more advocates like London talk openly about their experiences, more women are becoming active in taking charge of their menopause experience. Our latest State of Menopause survey, for instance, shows that women are becoming more aware of the signs and symptoms that occur throughout the menopause transition, and that those who may be entering the early stages of perimenopause today, are more proactive about seeking out care as well as health and mental wellness support.
The Menopause Evolution in the Health and Wellness Industry
No one person, brand, or organization can take credit for the changing menopause landscape. Though we at Bonafide believe that we've played an important role in helping to evolve the conversation around menopause, we're not alone. Along with us, well known personalities like Stacy London, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Gwyneth Paltrow,2 to name a few, have opened up about their own experiences with the goal of normalizing them for women everywhere.
Health and wellness brands, too, have started recognizing that women going through perimenopause and menopause need products geared towards addressing their unique symptoms (and we’re not just talking about hot flashes…there are currently 34+ recognized symptoms of menopause). Thankfully for a growing number of consumers, there are now effective, high-quality options available for addressing concerns such as vaginal dryness, hot flashes, painful sex, low sex drive, mood swings, and more – and they’re not limited to prescriptions or hormone replacement therapies. And while symptom management certainly helps, increased access to quality educational content is making a big difference, too.
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How Stacy London, and Others Are Taking a Stand for Menopause
The menopause community needs more people to say, "Hey! Here's what's happening to me. And here's how I'm dealing with it." That's where London has come in, who, among others, is working to radically change societal expectations of what it means to "age gracefully." Initially entering the menopause conversation through her own brand, London has since shifted her focus to connecting, collaborating with, and amplifying all the voices in the menopause space. (To learn more about her work, check out her Instagram.)
When asked why she's jumped into this space with so much enthusiasm, her answer makes perfect sense to us and perhaps it will resonate with you, too: "Menopause can last a third of your lifetime. How can you not know anything about it?" London says. "If we keep talking about the middle of life as some sort of ending, instead of an ending that has a new beginning, we lose the incredible brilliance and wisdom of people at this age."