Every single time we decided to talk (or not talk) about this concept of menopause, it’s because society has associated dirt and grime with it! Instead of considering it a natural part of how we age, there’s a tremendous taboo attached to it. But to put it across clearly, menopause isn’t how it affects all women and in the same manner. Had it not been for the stigma or social taboos concerning menopause – the world would have at least talked about it. These women have shared their experiences with it and also helped most others feel encouraged to talk out loud about it.
At the National Board of Review in 2014, the Late Night Actor (all of 61) had used her battle with the hot flashes effectively. It was then that she accepted the best actress award too, for the role she essayed in Saving Mr. Banks. Her speech created quite a stir and that was evident, especially how she said – “… I’ve been grateful for the menopause!”
Just a year back, Michelle Obama’s Spotify podcast was trending. Alongside Sharone Malone, the gynecologist, Obama spoke at length about menopause. It was effortless in the way she spoke about her experience of hormone shifts, owing to infertility, and having to resort to shots. During her late 30s, she also fought night sweats, hot flashes, and all such symptoms before taking hormones.
While her husband was in the presidency, she had even spoken about the hot flashes experience on Marine One. The experience was stiffening – “… it was like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high, and then everything started melting and I thought, well, this is crazy- I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this.” Barack was unfazed (like most others) and she knew that was normal! For him, it was like “Oh, well, turn the air conditioner on!”
Paltrow, better known as the queen of Goop, wanted to rebrand menopause. The body and mood undergo several changes when women enter the period of pre-menopause. From hormonal shifts and sweating to the highs and lows – these occur and one can become furious for no apparent reason. According to her, “menopause gets a really bad rap and needs a bit of rebranding”. She recounted an experience when she went to her mother during this period in her life, and there was continuous grief and all sorts of emotions. Sadly, our society, as per her, doesn’t have “a great example of an aspiration-containing menopausal woman”.
The Sex and the City star underwent menopause at the same time as Christine, her wife, in 2017. But Nixon openly declared that there was no sadness for her. As per her version given to Stella Magazine, she said, “…once you hit 50, you’re done!” She also added that the freedom that comes from no longer being fertile is huge.
When the legend speaks, you know it’s normal. According to Winfrey, menopause is the perfect opportunity to focus on oneself. In her very own magazine in 2019, she said, “So many women I’ve talked to, see menopause as a blessing”. She discovered that this moment comes at a point when women should reinvent themselves, after emphasizing the needs of practically everyone around. She believes it’s crucial to shed more light on the mysteries of this phase of life, for she realized that she was herself never prepared for the symptoms or the physical repercussions that come along with it. Indeed, she didn’t sleep well for a couple of years and attained no peace – restlessness and heart palpitations became her steady companions at nightfall.
When she was 48 or around 50, these became common and she finally decided to visit the cardiologist and take medication. For weeks, she also wore a heart monitor. One fine day while she was casually walking in the offices of The Oprah Winfrey Show, she picked this book by Dr. Christiane Northrup, The Wisdom of Menopause, hitting on the heading, Palpitations: Your Heart’s Wake-Up Call, and that changed everything.
Menopause is nothing unnatural. Our society has a long way to go to accept this truth. But we should at least thank these Hollywood A-listers who made it easy for several others.