Tap Into Your Beauty: Body Image and Menopause
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), an organization that advocates for seniors, celebrated four well-known actors in their 80s on the cover of a recent issue of their monthly magazine, yet obviously altered these beautiful women’s faces by erasing all lines and wrinkles. While we are finally starting to acknowledge the beauty of individuals of all ages, races, gender identities, and sizes, we obviously have more work to do.
Body image is a person’s perception of their physical self, a part of our personality that is influenced by socioeconomic conditions, cultural norms, and other factors. Negative body image can affect women at any stage of life, but after menopause, it can be devastating for some as the natural course of aging reveals sagging skin, thicker waistlines, and graying hair in a culture that reveres youthful appearance. A large recent study of postmenopausal women reported 83% were dissatisfied with their physical appearance. Women with more severe physical menopause-related symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, or sexual dysfunction were also more likely to have psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety that potentially negatively impact body image. In contrast, indicators of a woman’s empowerment through education, employment, income, and housing ownership are correlated with positive body image after menopause.
Education is power when it comes to menopause!
If you are experiencing bothersome symptoms affecting your physical or mental health, such as hot flashes, mood swings, pain with intercourse, or insomnia, there is help available! Discuss these issues with your gynecologist or other healthcare providers. Managing annoying symptoms that affect your quality of life can empower you to take charge of your health and feel good about the body you are in.
Appreciate your body for all it has been through with you and avoid comparing your body to others. Respect your body with some positive self-talk…like it is your best friend. You are beautiful just the way you are!