VANCOUVER, March 6, 2016 /CNW/ - Shirley Weir is celebrating International Women's Day on March 8th with a campaign to get us to rethink a phase of life that affects 100% of women: menopause, or more specifically perimenopause.
She is calling on advertisers, media, and all of us, to discard some of the traditional language commonly associated with menopause as she says the way we think about menopause is ruining our ability to enjoy it.
"We have a tendency to adopt the negative connotations passed onto us either culturally or generationally," says Weir. "And somewhere along the line, we learned that menopause is something that must be feared or fixed."
Weir is the founder of MenopauseChicks.com where she helps women navigate perimenopause and menopause with confidence and ease. The first thing she likes to do in every conversation, is ensure people are clear on definitions. Menopause is one day—it is the 12 month anniversary of the last menstrual period, and the average age of menopause is 51.2. Weir was 49 when she reached menopause. Perimenopause is the 5-15 year phase of hormone fluctuations leading up to menopause. This means perimenopause can begin as early as 35. Most people are unaware that women can have experiences (Weir doesn't like the term symptoms as it implies disease, which of course, menopause is not) caused by hormone fluctuations while they still have a period. There is very little research on perimenopause, as the term was only coined in the 1990s.
In her own research, whenever Weir says menopause, the first word to come up for many people typically has a negative connotation. Hot, old, tired, moody and fat are examples.
"Rarely does someone say smart, confident or beautiful," says Weir. "I believe that's because we have been over-conditioned with myths and misconceptions. We are so used to seeing the stereotypical image of the grey-haired, stressed-out lady holding a fan; many of us just assume that's an accurate representation of menopause. And it's one that we literally want to run away from, rather than embrace."
Shirley cites three examples:
An Oprah Magazine (September 2016) article titled "Hooray for Hormones!" tells women they can expect to get fat, hot, lose their memories and lose control of their bladders in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
"I looked at the magazine photos and thought: are these the new profile pictures for menopause?" says Weir. "I'm not telling people to unsubscribe—I'm saying speak up! I'm inviting everyone to speak up whenever someone gets the menopause connotation wrong. This is important if we want to create a future where women no longer feel alone; where they feel comfortable talking about perimenopause and menopause and seeking support"
A CBC radio show promised to help women navigate menopause at work. The tips included: i) dress in layers and ii) get a small fan for your desk.
"This is incredibly insulting and unhelpful," states Weir. "We are smart women. We don't need to be told to dress in layers! We do need compassionate and flexible workspaces though. And education, conversation and a place where both men and women can learn about this these life phases."
Up until recently, the Sigma Canadian Menopause Society (a physician & health care professional group) had one picture in its "consumer" section to illustrate menopause and it was a photo of an 80-something year old woman in a wheelchair being comforted by a nurse. Weir called SIGMA to explain how the picture misrepresented midlife women, and the society replaced the photo the next day. The organization still refused to include the word perimenopause in its literature, to which Weir says is indicative of how complex and confusing the menopause topic is, and how far we still have to go in redefining perimenopause and menopause. This is especially true if medical professionals can't yet agree on what to call one of life's most natural phases.
About Menopause Chicks:
MenopauseChicks.com helps women navigate perimenopause and menopause with confidence and ease. Founder, Shirley Weir is on a mission to connect women to unbiased information, to midlife health professionals—and to each other, through her private online community. As a women's health advocate, Shirley is reframing the menopause conversation from something that has been traditionally viewed as negative, into a milestone worthy of celebration. A well-regarded speaker and writer, Shirley hosted the first-ever "menopause graduation party" in 2016 and was a speaker at TedXGastown Women. Shirley is a 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction nominee and a GroYourBiz fellowship recipient.
Private Online Community: www.facebook.com/groups/MenopauseChicks
SOURCE Menopause Chicks
For further information: Shirley Weir, 604.817.1497