For Australian women around my age (almost 54), you may recall seeing Alison (then Brahe) gracing the cover of Dolly and other fashion magazines frequently.
If I’m brutally honest, I have to admit that the images of Alison, through our 1980s social media equivalent, looking so slim and perfect probably contributed to the eating disorder I developed as a teenager. This took me another 20 years of struggle and work to get on top of and during menopause I was again triggered by the changes in my body. I had to replay those days in my head to find a better way forward and I’m happy to say that I feel pretty confident I won’t spiral back into an another 20 years of unhealthy behaviours.
Having a more rounded and athletic shape like mine definitely wasn’t ‘in’ in the 80s. Alison and I were world’s apart – me sitting in the country newsagency where I worked part time reading Dolly and Alison leading a glamorous model life on the cover.
Fast forward 30-40 years and we are now both in our 50s and somehow bizarrely enough, I feel that menopause has given us something in common. As with many other women I’ve connected with, when we are prepared to talk about the taboo subject of menopause, we can be brought together in the best possible way.
Menopause and age seems to level the playing field somewhat – ultimately we begin to realise that we are all still just trying to find our way through the constant barrage of messages we have been fed over decades by society and the media that young, slim and fertile is somehow superior to older, maybe a little curvier, no longer held back by the nurturing hormones that once prevented us from truly speaking our mind and much much wiser. Kind of crazy but still somewhat true.
I have to admit that initially I bought Queen Menopause just because I read all menopause books. I wasn’t expecting a lot. After all, how could someone like me relate to a ‘model’. For some reason I expected Alison’s experience to be more model like (whatever that may be) where she swanned her beautiful self through the entire transition in a more princessy than queen like way!
Of course, I was quickly put back in my very narrow-minded, judgemental box. Right from the start I knew I would love this book. Alison’s openness, honesty and vulnerability throughout is simply – beautiful. So much of her experience resonated with me – as I’m sure it will with many other women.
Alison shares some facts and tips etc but what I truly loved were excerpts from her diary and how she allowed us into her more intimate feelings and life. I found this so brave as the hormonal disruptions to our self image and also our sexual selves can be really distressing.
As Alison shares her journey of exploring past experiences and beliefs to gradually transitioning into not only a new reproductive stage of life but also into a beautiful new version of herself, we are given hope and also courage to perhaps start working on our own journey of self-discovery.
Personally, I’ve come away from this book with more compassion, not only for myself but also for my clients and the millions of other women who have found themselves struggling to come to terms with how menopause has changed us, while at the same time also recognising that we are now coming into our very own queen status.
Thank you Alison for being messy, real, relatable and giving the world this gift of your story.
I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book:
‘If I look at menopause as a reset, as a new beginning, it’s where I’m presented with the choice to choose myself. It’s a beautiful moment. It can be a whole lot of beautiful moments strung together to make a new story for yourself.’
Definitely worth a read – possibly my favourite menopause book yet.