It’s like an underground whisper campaign … women have been taught to keep to themselves about important topics that affect their mental, physical and sexual wellbeing. The products they buy, the questions they have and the advice they receive seem to always be shrouded in secrecy and awkwardness. Thankfully, things are changing.
Enter Sally Mueller and Michelle Jacobs. These two women spent their careers dominating the world of brand strategy and development for giants like Target, Pfizer and HSN. But they say their crowning achievement is their latest venture, Womaness —- which takes on the once secretive and embarrassing topics of menopause and sexual health and focuses on the total wellbeing of women, particularly as they age. Their goal: to create menopositivity.
The journey to Womaness began when Mueller shared symptoms with her doctor and was “diagnosed” with menopause, handed a bag of products, and sent on her way. “I’ll never use these products,” thought Mueller. She describes them as “outdated formulations that hadn’t been redeveloped in more than a decade.” She also felt the doctor had a lack of understanding and compassion for her suffering.
After sharing her story with friends like Jacobs, it became clear that many women were lacking relief, education and support. So, the duo, along with other medical and wellness professionals, set out to create a community that would support and educate women and normalize the discussion around menopause and its effects on the body, mind and lifestyle.
The founders are keenly aware that removing the taboo from the word menopause, its related symptoms and the notion of aging is not an overnight task. But women of all ages are welcoming the new community. “I love that Womaness has created a space and movement to celebrate female aging,” says Judy Liebman, a Womaness community member and customer. “Womaness not only validates us as vibrant, beautiful, sexy, smart and successful but addresses our physical and mental issues surrounding aging.”
Take the Taboo Out of the Discussion
The paradox is shocking. Although 50 million women in the US alone are going through menopause, talking about it, even with your doctor, can be awkward. Thankfully, Mueller and Jacobs have finally begun to normalize the discussion around this once taboo topic, and we can learn quite a bit from them about how to effectively communicate around sensitive subjects:
Provide unique content. Work with experts in your field and provide enriching content that is unique to your topic. Be the “go to” source, especially for underserved subjects. Provide content that empowers your audience by educating them.
Offer a safe and welcoming community. Being part of a community of people facing similar things engenders trust and removes stigma. It creates a safe space to share thoughts, tips, and concerns. At Womaness, Jacobs explains that by creating accessible communities like Facebook groups and in-person events, “we hope those who embrace menopause can influence those who don’t.”
Provide needed solutions. Topics that are “hush hush” are often neglected in the marketplace. Gain a thorough understanding of the needs of your community and offer solutions. These can come in the form of user-friendly products or services.
Embrace your future customer. While it’s important to address your current customers, think ahead. Cultivate relationships with those who will need your products or services in the future. Educate them so they will seamlessly fold into your community when the time or need arises.
Focus on the positive and avoid the awkward. Certain topics are simply more difficult to discuss. Find ways to remove the awkward connotation and focus on the matter of fact. Womaness, for example, offers Go Go Pads for post-menopausal urinary incontinence. Rather than focusing on the clinical or the negative, the company inspires its users to “sneeze, laugh or take the spin class” and “be ready for anything”.
The don’t ask/don’t tell mentality underlying menopause and other taboo topics is disheartening because so many people needlessly suffer alone. Thanks to companies like Womaness, the tide is turning, and we are learning how to communicate more effectively around sensitive topics. Subjects once thought embarrassing are now being discussed openly and people, especially women, are benefiting.
“We don’t believe in the pause,” says Mueller. “We don’t believe women should stop because of menopause. They just need a little help along the way so they can keep going and keep doing the things they want to do with their lives.”
That is menopositivity.