13 May 2013
Does your style really go off the rails at this time?
I read an article today from the Invisible Woman blogger in the Guardian that bemuses me somewhat. She talks about women suddenly wanting to wear pastel and puffed sleeves and gingham when they hit the menopause, and how the M word is taboo and no-one talks about it. She even apologises for raising such an 'indelicate' subject.
None of this rings any bells with me at all. My friends and I talk about the menopause all the time, swap tips on how to deal with hot flushes and vaginal atrophy, carry and use fans in public, etc. No-one gives a shit or tries to hide it. And I don't think any of us dresses differently because we're menopausal, only sometimes we choose more comfort because we're getting older.
I admit I had a brief wobble when my doctor told me I was 'bien menopausée', but that was more to do with fear of osteoporosis than the loss of any "previous identity as a fecund, mysterious and powerfully feminine creature" as the writer puts it.
WTF? I have NEVER felt like this. Mysterious? A coal-miner's daughter from a council estate? Not a lot of mystery there. Most of my life I've felt, as Fern Britton put it, like a man in drag. I have never pretended to be some sort of femme fatale - it's not the sort of thing I could pull off.
Nor, having never wanted children, could I mourn at no longer being ABLE to have them. The feeling was more one of relief at no longer having to endure my godawful periods.
Equally admittedly, I have hated some of the symptoms of menopause - the hot flushes, the weight gain, the fat gut, the insomnia. But now that I'm back on the black cohosh and the flushes have virtually disappeared again, I feel as right as ninepence. I'm still as fat as a fat little fat pig but I've decided to ignore it and just buy bigger pants. I'm pretty fit, after all, and I eat well.
I found the comments about dress on the blog interesting too. One really struck me, that: "Most people really do not see older women, so wear what you want". I dunno. Is that true? Maybe it's that it's not true here in France. But even if it IS true, well how wonderful is that? What freedom it gives you to observe. Once you get over yourself and stop wanting to be paid attention all the time, you can just get on with being a person.
One thing I am noticing and appreciating about ageing is that I give a lot less of a toss about what other people think - as my oestrogen levels fall off a cliff and my testosterone becomes more important, I am perhaps behaving with the indifference of a man. But in terms of my wardrobe, the menopause has entailed far less of a change than moving to the countryside ever did.
More another time on dressing for hot flushes.