Menopause for Thought
Freya Insoll discusses ‘the development of the fashion and beauty industry with regards to the menopause’
As someone who’s at least 20+ years off the menopause, unsurprisingly I’ve given little thought to the impacts and intricacies of arguably the most life-changing biological stage of a woman’s life. It was only with the recent surge in female journalists and activists pushing for destigmatisation of the menopause and related symptoms that I’ve found it possible to become more aware of the struggle faced by the majority of women as they progress through middle age. A particular point of interest was the development of the fashion and beauty industry with regards to the menopause; there have been a slew of new product releases onto the market targeted at tackling menopausal issues.
The topic has largely been brought into the media spotlight thanks to the educational efforts of a handful of companies and known media figures. The best example of this may be pioneering menopause educator Meg Matthews, a self-described ‘icon of the nineties Britpop scene’ who’s current career trajectory is a far cry from her hedonistic 90’s heyday. Her recently founded website ‘megsmenopause.com’ aims to break the stigma surrounding the menopause, aiming to provide support to women experiencing menopausal symptoms through educational resources and engaging lifestyle tips. Her work isn’t only theoretical though – she’s also recently released a line of personal hygiene and skincare products aimed at alleviating menopausal symptoms while sitting within an accessible budget range; the collection includes vitamins, moisturisers and cooling sprays.
Meg Matthews…has recently released a line of personal hygiene and skincare products aimed at alleviating menopausal symptoms
In order to gain a further understanding of the trials and tribulations of the menopause, I spoke to a handful of family members and university staff members. It was through particularly enlightening conversations with older relations that practical issues of fashion and the menopause came to the fore; they stated that the main issues they faced upon hitting the menopause were interrupted sleep and hot flushes, both ailments that can be alleviated through clever and intuitive fashion design. However, it’s only with the recent emergence of companies such as Cucumber Clothing, Become and Fifty One Apparel that such issues are being considered and tackled with the use of new-fangled technologies.
The brand Become works on the premise of ‘using the latest in fabric technology to make life easier for women all over the world’ and aims to achieve this by incorporating their patent-pending ‘Anti-Flush Technology™’ fabric into comfy clothing designs. Their revolutionary material transfers heat away from the body thanks to unique weave design, wicks moisture through innovative coatings that evaporate and absorb moisture off the skin and controls odour thanks to an anti-microbial finish. In 2016 the company released their best-selling anti-flush nightdress and have already seen sales of the item increase by 213% just this year; a figure that in itself demonstrates the increasing desire of women to be specifically catered for during the menopause. Similarly, Fifty One Apparel claims to design ‘cool clothes for hot women’, again targeting the main issues of poor body temperature regulation and hot-flushes. Their clothes are designed to be comfortable, movable and primarily temperature controlling – they even claim to incorporate NASA developed technologies in a bid to help women face their issues head on.
The brand Become works on the premise of ‘using the latest in fabric technology to make life easier for women all over the world’
Thus it would seem hope is on the horizon for women in the throes of the menopause; companies are quickly cottoning on to the desire for change and greater awareness of the struggles suffered during this stage of a woman’s life. While there are many practical products in the pipeline, I’m not sure my aunt’s request for menopause clothing to contain ‘labels for your name and address, in case you get lost and forget who you are’ is quite in the development stage yet.
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