Menopause and Marketing

Now that I am a woman of a “certain” age, I’m starting to notice a few things. Like how little notice menopause is given in our society. Like how little notice post-menopausal women are given in society. 

A Dove campaign interviewed over 1,700 women between the ages of 18 and 64 recently about beauty and how they think of themselves and about the importance of being “real.” 

Well, we know the Dove beauty campaign is all about selling us stuff. I mean, hel-lo….they’ve got shareholders.  

Apparently they’ve been so successful that it isn’t enough to be a size zero any more. Now we have to embrace our freckles and our size 4 thighs and we have to be real. We do that by buying soap. Unless you are over 65. 

If you’re over 65 I guess you don’t need soap anymore. 

I know that 18-64 is a marketing demographic, but it’s more than that at the same time. It’s about how society views youth and beauty (or age and the lack of it). 

Maybe it’s because we don’t talk about menopause amongst ourselves very much. Oh sure, we joke about hot flashes and night sweats. And losing the ability to string two thoughts together and forgetting just why we came into the kitchen just now and bemoaning our newly acquired pot bellies. Funny stuff. Jokey stuff. 

What about…am I still pretty? Am I still desirable? Do I have a voice? (And no, I’m not fishing for compliments). What about menopausal depression and debilitating mood swings. What about vaginal atrophy. Have you heard about that one? ( It’s what Premerin is for, in case you were wondering.)

Females are young. And fertile. One day you’re a child. The next day – the next second – you’re a woman. I remember thinking the day I got my first period, “I’m a woman now. I can have babies!” So it seems only natural to ask the reverse question when you stop having your monthly flow. After menopause, who are we? We’re female, but are we still women? Yes, of course we are, don’t be silly. 

Many post menopausal women will say that we’re more than women. We’re women with huzzah! We’re women who don’t need soap!

Right? 

I’m not so sure. Okay, okay…I hear you. I don’t particularly want to be targeted in a mass-market beauty products campaign either. 

But it would be nice to be noticed. 

I do have something to say. My voice is important (or should be, anyway.)  Maybe I don’t want the kind of soap Dove is trying to sell my younger sisters, but I buy soap, too.

I know there’s a point in here somewhere, but I’ve forgotten where I put it…

   

 I’m participating in the Blogging From A-Z challenge.  One blog post for each letter of the alphabet, each day of April (except Sunday). 

Vintage Adjust-O-Matic Dress Form and a Healthy Body Image

Have you ever seen one of these?

001

Made in the mid-1960s and costing only $6.95: “with your Adjust-o-Matic dress form you see in advance just how attractive and becoming your dress, skirt, coat or blouse will look!

011

Inside the box was a bewildering assortment of pieces. I have to admit, as a person who kind of sucks at puzzles, this put a bit of fear into my heart.

005

Thank goodness there was also an instruction booklet! And let me say right now, that all instruction writers in the world should read this instruction booklet and take notes.  Seriously! This was so easy to put together! I was amazed!

015

I spread the pieces out on the kitchen floor and proceeded to fit tab A into slot A and on and on until I was finished about an hour later.

031

The Incredible Adjust-o-Matic is a miracle of modern engineering. Honestly.

034

The form was built in three sections: first the hips, then the torso, then attach the neck piece and close the shoulders. When I built the hips section, I held it in my two hands and thought that surely there must be some mistake. These hips are too small. My hips are much larger than this. So I double checked the measurements. And yes…these are my hips.

013

I suddenly felt a little teary-eyed! So here’s something about me that you may or may not know. Several years ago I lost a great deal of weight. Yes. Yes, I did. You can read all about it here. At some point after that I suffered an illness. My brain chemicals and hormones went out of balance, brought on by a combination of stressful life events and menopause, and I was diagnosed with acute depression.  It took me a couple of years, but thanks to a lot of very hard work and the love and support of my husband and a couple of close friends, I recovered. Unfortunately, however, I am left with a 20 pound weight gain. I can’t begin to tell you how I have beat myself up over re-gaining those pounds! The vicious, terrible things I say to myself! Horrible, just horrible.

017

So holding those hips in my hands made me cry. Because I saw that they aren’t gigantic ugly hips at all! Yes, they are 3 inches wider than they were 3 years ago. That is a fact.My body-image is so out of whack, it’s scarey!

025

I will get back to a healthier weight again. It’s just taking longer this time. My body is different than it was when I lost the weight before. I’m post-menopausal now.  I’m not teaching 5 dance classes every week. But I go for long walks every day with Samson, and I’m making an effort to get back into my yoga practice. I still go through phases of being very mindful of what I eat and then binging on ice cream (hard not to do on these hot summer days!). Over all I feel like I live a very balanced life. So the weight will probably be much slower in coming off this time around.  And you know what? That’s okay. Besides, the incredible Adjust-o-Matic will reduce right along with me as I re-loose those inches. She’ll help keep things real.

041

She doesn’t actually belong to me. She is on loan from a friend. It belongs to my friend Jean’s mother.

044

Jean’s mother is in a nursing home now, and the dress form was taken apart and packed away into Jean’s basement some time ago.

046

I still think she looks smaller than me. But every time I check the measurements again, hers and mine remain the same.

049

She sits in my sewing room and I look at her every day. She reminds me to be kind to myself.

048

Cheers for a Playful 2014!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Have you ever chosen a word
just one single word
to guide you through the year?

For the last couple of years I’ve held the word balance close to my heart. It was the word that helped me to navigate a very busy life: teaching up to 5 dance classes per week, directing a dance troupe, choreographing and producing shows while managing to have a family life and working a 9-5 day job (phew!)

58-Collins

Balance was the word that got me through to the other side of menopausal depression. I was out of balance physically, emotionally and hormonally. Searching for and maintaining balance was the lifeline that I clung to and the rope I hauled myself up by. It kept me secure during the heartache of deciding to let go of my dance troupe and students. I kept it in the front of my mind during my weight loss journey (65 pounds!).  It was the word that taught me to put health and happiness above productivity.

Balance guided me through the waters of deciding to retire relatively young; to move to a new town and seek out new adventures.

1-CollinsBalance: what a beautiful word!

But now it’s time for a new word to live by. It’s time to get out of the box and…

41-CollinsPLAY!

This year I am going to play in my kitchen and learn to bake a cake from scratch. Specifically, some of the Chatelaine cakes. Yum!

…and I will experiment creating delicious meals from all over the globe: India, Japan, Italy, Thailand…! No fear in the kitchen will be my new motto – play with those spices, Nita! Try it out!

37-CollinsIn my Creativity room I will play in the sewing nook, on the yoga mat, in-front-of the dance mirror and with words at my laptop.

My body will become stronger as I play outdoors, exploring local walking and hiking trails with Kelly and Sammy. We’ll take our bikes out and explore some of the country roads.

I will play in the garden, discovering all the wonders of living in a zone 5 gardening region.

I vow to put myself “out there” and be open to meeting new friends, getting involved in the community somehow (music? theater? dance?)

32-CollinsMy friend Melissa at 100 Billion Stars puts it brilliantly (you can read her entire blog post here):

Play is a way of making room for our potential. It isn’t about pretending to be something we hope to be one day. It isn’t about presenting a different face to the world, trying on masks and personae. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves in an atmosphere without judgment or rules. It’s from this place that growth begins, releasing the possibilities that have been lying dormant all our lives.

So here I am this morning, wishing you all a wonderful year of play and a hell of a good time doing it!

70-CollinsNo fear! Have fun!

PLAY!

(these wonderful family photos were taken by Heather Jones of hpj photography at our Fox Lake cabin last September. We had so much fun!)