“When we change the way, we look at things the things we look at change.”
– Dr Wayne Dyer.
Change is coming for women in midlife, how fast it is going to occur is dependant upon each and every one of us. Let’s historically look back in order to understand why we need change.
One hundred years ago a large percentage of women (some records point to 50%) did not reach their 50th birthday. Fifty years ago, 100% of women were considered old at 50. Women’s value in society was correlated with their fertility, thus once they reached menopause the rhetoric surrounding life is over appeared. Today, in the western world we have the largest demographic of women entering and transitioning through their 50’s, these women are educated, economically independent, fit, healthy, and well. Biologists and scientists point to the fact that if one is healthy today at 50, one has forty years of living ahead. Wow just take a moment to dwell on this fact.
Becoming proactive and looking after our health in our 50’s is vital. Thus, the old narratives surrounding invisibility, redundancy, being over the hill have to go!!!It’s time for a new paradigm shift for us midlife women.
We need to start by confronting many of the negative stereotypes that are hanging over us for too long, like a dark cloud. Therefore, the media, marketing and advertising agencies need to be challenged. Disparaging narratives surrounding menopausal women need to be exploded. We can no longer accept references such as Brexit being referred to as menopausal with a smile on our face! Women need to realise the invaluable skillset they have acquired by the time they reach 50. Many women have managed a home, a family, a relationship, while others have also gone outside the home to work. Multitasking superwomen have appeared with little societal recognition.
Essentially, change is needed, viewing midlife through a different lens is required urgently. Society needs to celebrate the achievements of midlife women and acknowledge the value and wisdom this cohort can impart. Awareness and proactively managing the menopause is vital in assisting women realise their huge potential at this time of life. Today there are so many opportunities for us in our 50’s. Investing in the development of one’s courage and self-belief can pay huge dividends in all parts of our life. From my own research the statistic that I found most alarming is, that women’s mental health rates across the lifespan are peaking between 45 and 55 with suicide rates peaking at 51. Why is this? Prior to researching for my psychology degree thesis, I would have assumed rates would be higher amongst elderly women due to isolation and loneliness, but I was wrong. As midlife is the most understudied area of women’s’ lives in academia!! I could not find any direct answers to this. However, I believe the answer may be a combination of, deficits in menopausal education, awareness and management, along with these negative and powerfully derogatory stereotypes related to aging. I am returning in September to do my masters in the hope of researching this area. I love this quote
“Nothing happens until somebody moves” -Albert Einstein
And I applaud Meg Mathews and her team for shining a light (moving) on a subject that has been kept in the closet for too long, disenfranchising and disempowering women in their middle years. Best wishes, Breeda Bermingham @Midlife Women Rock Project
Guest Post by Breeda Bermingham of the Midlife Women Rock Project