When we set out on our journey to launch M+, we wanted to change the narrative around menopause and menopausal women, eschewing the unglamorous and uninspiring images of victimhood in favour of strong, competent women facing a new stage of life.
Doing that meant two things:
- Providing meaningful products, information and support
- Representing menopausal women in all their powerful, authentic glory
For that we needed the right photography, which is where we ran into a problem. Not only is the written language around menopausal women miserable and one sided, but so is the visual language. In fact, there are almost no great images of women available between the ages of 45 and 60.
Who are you calling invisible?
Everywhere we looked there was a proliferation of photography showing women with downcast heads in hands, desperate expressions and angst-ridden profiles.
By the time a women goes through menopause she has conquered the world and has come back fighting after every punch life threw at her. So, we found this determination to turn these women into victims of ageing at best or to render them almost entirely invisible at worst, to be a complete insult - not to mention entirely inaccurate.
We wanted to show real women and tell real stories. Seeing women who are going through menopause as powerful, experienced and worthy of better, M+ seeks to provide information and support, improve and educate, listen and talk, but, most importantly to celebrate women as they go through menopause and beyond.
Having gathered the information we wanted to launch, we decided that we needed our own photography.
To make-up or not to make-up?
For our photoshoot we sought real women to model - women who had been through or were going through the menopause. These women are not miserable or invisible, they’re gorgeous! It was important for us that the day itself was a celebration - of what we are doing, of the message our models were set to be a part of, and of the individuals themselves.
Did we use make-up? Of course - who doesn’t like to have their make-up done for a photoshoot? But the make-up was not used to hide who these women are. It was used to celebrate them, providing confidence in front of the camera and a sense of glamour befitting the occasion.
“We wanted to show how incredibly gorgeous and glamorous women are as they get older and as they go through menopause. These are not people to be ignored or shoved on a ‘shelf’, they are amazing, strong, inspiring and beautiful. The women on our photoshoot were all those things and more, and in addition to everything else they made the whole experience so much fun!” - Jennifer Young
Choosing a photographer
Choosing a photographer was tricky. We’re very picky and we had a very clear vision of what we were trying to achieve. Fortunately, we found Andrew, who grasped the concept perfectly.
Andrew was supported by our new Kickstart recruit and video guru, Jack. Less than a week into his new role with the team, it was a bit of a baptism of fire for him, but what better way to really feel like part of the team? Andrew took Jack under his wing, and in addition to being an invaluable support, he also shot his first video for the company that day!
While Andrew and Jack set about their work, our very own Keating Young also took lots of incredible behind the scenes images. This was really important to us because we wanted to document the process, show the genuine experience of everyone involved with the shoot, and celebrate an occasion that was designed to make women feel empowered, supported and gorgeous without trying to change who or what they are.
Creating genuine joy
The location we chose was a friend’s B&B, which is a warm and welcoming place that very much embodied the atmosphere we wanted to achieve. That was essential because we didn’t just want our models to look like they were happy - we wanted them to actually be happy!
The atmosphere was enhanced further by having food on hand. Food is an important topic whenever you’re discussing wellbeing - various foods are praised, demonised, ignored or overlooked at all different stages of women’s wellness, but nutrition is an essential part of feeling fab and giving our bodies what they need. So yes, the food was a prop, but it was also definitely made to be eaten, and eat it we did.
“Cake was the obvious choice, to add some delicacy to the shoot, but I’m still undecided as to whether I was impressed or nervous when presented with a cake mood board by Jennifer! Baking the cakes for the shoot was great fun and I loved sharing the joy with our models.” - Julia, who prepared our food so expertly
The entire occasion was an exercise in teamwork, culminating in imagery that is not only a positive representation of real, strong, menopausal women, but that’s also a record of a very happy day in the evolution of our brand and our message. We hope that genuinely comes across in what we have created so far, and that there will be many more occasions like it in our future. Above all, we hope this truly is the first step in changing the way we talk about, see and celebrate women over the age of 45 because believe us, they’re worthy of celebration.
Discover the experiences our models have had with menopause