This project is an exploration of the menopause, the change, of attitudes and expectations. Symptoms of perimenopause are varied, there are thirty-four officially acknowledged, and most are not widely known or misunderstood. Menopause is one of the last taboos of western culture. Although society is now more willing to discuss menopause there is still a long way to go for understanding and acceptance.
Most will immediately think of the ‘hot flush’ as the only symptom of menopause, however, there are many symptoms, and the flush is only one. All the over-the-counter treatments that are available are targeting this one symptom even though there is little evidence of the efficacy of any of them. Each woman’s menopause is different, I for one have not experienced the stereotypical hot flush, and some women will sail through the change whilst others find some of their symptoms debilitating. My own symptoms included memory loss, lack of concentration, crippling muscle fatigue and a sudden and severe depression, none of which I was expecting and thought there was something seriously wrong.
Middle-aged, menopausal women are often invisible to wider society, representation in TV and film falls although it does not for men. Women are not forgiven for aging. The invisibility of women in this age group is largely a legacy of Victorian medical practice where menopausal women were often prescribed a withdrawal from society, a quiet, contemplative life not outside of the domestic sphere.
Talking openly of the debates and issues surrounding menopause and making it part of everyday conversation will remove the associated stigma. If menopause can be accepted as part of normality and not something spoken of in hushed tones then the symptoms become easier to manage, a hot flush in the workplace need not be an embarrassment when those around you have understanding and consideration. The first resort may not be to reach for the pills but to have a conversation.
All images created using Hassalblad CM500 and Ilford HP5