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10 Women Show ‘What Menopause Looks Like’

Hair Stories

33 Min Read

By April Walloga2019-09-25

Menopause may be the last taboo of the feminine experience. No one talks about it, but every woman goes through it. 

It’s a rite of passage with no map.

To show what menopause is really like, 10 women entering and experiencing menopause shared their journeys with Nutrafol for a photography and interview project called “What Menopause Looks Like.”

“I had no idea sleeplessness was part of menopause. I haven’t had good sleep in three years,” said Suzanne, a 55-year-old music director with a silver mane straight out of the Marvel universe.

“My hot flashes lasted for two years,” the soft-spoken Renée explained.

“I’ve always had thin hair, but when I hit menopause, it went down to 50% of what I had,” Madeline, an actress with a Twiggy-esque pixie cut, shared.

Over 30 million women struggle with hair loss during menopause, and 40% of women have visible hair loss by age 40. “You feel your femininity kind of going away — and hair is one of the places where you get to be feminine, no matter what you look like,” said Madeline. 

For the millions of women like Madeline, Nutrafol created Women’s Balance, a natural hair supplement that uses hormone-balancing botanicals to help you grow stronger, silkier, healthier hair during menopause. 

“What Menopause Looks Like” is starting an honest conversation about menopause and the changes it brings to our health and our hair. It also flies in the face of traditional advertising imagery for women over 40 — aka, the classic “woman hugging her grandchildren”-type tropes. Because grandkids are amazing, but women at this stage are so much more than just mothers and grandmothers. 

From a 66-year-old playwright who likes to dress like “Jenny from the block” to an English teacher with flaming red hair down to her waist, each woman was photographed on the streets of New York in an outfit unique to her personal style. 

The resulting photographs and conversations shed an important light on a topic that all women should be empowered to understand and talk about. 

Keep scrolling for some serious life (and hair) goal inspiration below… 

Meet Kristine

How do you feel about this age and stage of life?

I have more energy and more time to focus on my health and my mindset. I’ve been able to embrace that lifestyle where I’m able to accept anything and everything that comes my way — the good, the things that people consider bad. I’m able to view them from a different perspective now.

I’ve let go of that need to try to look young. I’m not competing with anyone. I’m not trying to look like anyone but myself and the best version of myself.

Kristine's GrowthPlan®

Meet Denita

What is your relationship to your hair?

I have a really curly texture that I've always enjoyed, but all that said, I still used relaxers for a long time — peer pressure, I guess. But I stopped using relaxers in 2001, so I’ve been natural since then.

At some point I was like, I don’t have to drive a mom car; I’m not a mom. I don’t have to have three or four bedrooms; there’s no one to put in ‘em. It’s me and one cat. I can do anything.

Denita's GrowthPlan®

Meet Ann

What has menopause been like for you?

I haven’t experienced the big side effects yet, but I notice that I’m at the point in my life where I’m a miss/ma’am. That change that people perceive is happening now.

I feel very independent right now. I really like that I’m at a place in my life where I choose what I want to be doing.

Ann's GrowthPlan®

Meet Suzanne

What has menopause been like for you?

I started very late. I had no idea sleeplessness was part of menopause. I haven’t had good sleep in three years. I didn’t have hot flashes. All of what you hear about typical menopause symptoms, I didn’t have.

My hair starts conversations.

Suzanne's Growth Plan®

Meet Renée

What has menopause been like for you?

I had perimenopause symptoms in my mid-40s. It started as hot flashes at night and it lasted for several years. I would just start burning up and I would kick the covers off.

I feel free. At this point in my life, I’m all about happiness and peace of mind and doing things that serve me and serve my purpose.

Renée's GrowthPlan®

Meet Madeline

How do you feel at this age and stage of life?

What’s wonderful is you’re just at this existential crisis and you get the chance to say,

Menopause is full of change; it’s a sea of change. It gets talked about as a list of a few annoying symptoms, but it’s a sea of change.

Madeline's GrowthPlan®

Meet Christine

What has menopause been like for you?

Perimenopause was in my late 40s and my monthly period started to get a little bit less and then probably after a year it stopped completely. I had some of the symptoms, mostly hot flashes. You always have to dress in layers because you go from cold to hot.

I definitely look in the mirror and see my age, but I don’t let it get me down. It’s more about keeping a positive outlook and being happy.

Christine's GrowthPlan®

Meet Maylyn

What has perimenopause been like for you?

Last night I was sleeping and I was like, Oh my God, I feel like I’m dying of heat and the a/c is on full blast.

Now it’s about, 'What do I want to do now? I’m 43. I’ve got half my life to live.' So I’m just going to go for whatever I want.

Maylyn's GrowthPlan®

Meet Maureen

How long have you been embracing the gray?

The last time I colored it was two years ago. When I let it grow between colorings, I just assumed that my whole head would go gray, but it just grew in around my face and the rest was still pretty dark, but I was like, let's just see this through.

I just went to my high school reunion and every guy in there was either bald or salt and pepper and I was the only woman with gray hair in the room. And people came up to me and said, ‘Wow, that’s really brave [laughs].’

Maureen's GrowthPlan®

Meet Stephanie

How do you feel about this age and stage of life?

You don’t change — the spirit in you is still that 16-year-old or 25-year-old or disco queen. You’re still the same, you’re just wiser. So I feel the same. The ‘70s is my favorite decade so I still go dancing at clubs and I don’t like wearing bras unless I have to. I dress pretty much the same now as I did back then.

I still go dancing at clubs and I don’t like wearing bras unless I have to. I dress pretty much the same now as I did [in the '70s].

Stephanie's GrowthPlan®

Photography: Ryan Bailey

Hair and makeup: Aleetha Clanton

Wardrobe: Erin Turon

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