Stacy London first strutted onto our TV screens back in 2003, when in her unique and unflinching style, she told America ‘What Not to Wear’. A former magazine editor and stylist, this badass Gen X woman was the chic, classy best friend who’d speak up and tell you if that dress didn’t look right on you. So, decades later, it’s entirely fitting that this queen of confidence has been working hard on a midlife transformation all her own.
When asked to beta test a pioneering beauty brand called State Of Menopause, a holistic product line for women in midlife which addresses the symptoms associated with menopause and perimenopause, her “constant badgering” swiftly led to her taking over as the company’s CEO.
Now 52, Stacy isn’t just flying high, she’s living proof of how menopause can kick-start a midlife renaissance. But as she freely admits, it wasn’t an easy ride. No-one escapes the challenges of midlife, and Stacy’s no exception. Recovering from spinal surgery in 2017, she was also grieving the loss of her father when the symptoms of menopause hit her like an express train. Although at the time she wasn’t aware that menopause was a factor.
We’re huge fans of Stacy’s, so we were super-excited (and a little starstruck!) to have the chance to talk with her about her incredible transformational journey and how State Of Menopause is making “everything with menopause in mind”.
You’re Not Going Crazy
Stacy admits that she had absolutely no idea about the symptoms of menopause, or what to expect. “I keep using the hashtag #yourenotcrazy, because I really thought I was going crazy!” She didn’t recognize these new and terrifying feelings as the symptoms of menopause, she attributed them to the physical pain of surgery, and the mental trauma that followed the loss of her father.
Stacy’s experience of feeling completely unprepared for this brand-new stage of her life taught her a valuable lesson. If we want to understand menopause, we have to start talking about it honestly. “You wouldn’t start this conversation with your best friend on a lie. You would talk about what you are experiencing in the truest, most real terms possible. Which is that menopause really sucks and it’s really hard.”
And for Stacy talking honestly about menopause means rejecting vanity; it’s about owning the physical changes instead of desperately trying to cover them up. Stacy realized this herself when, out of nowhere, she had a tummy where she never had one before. And grey hairs started appearing on her chin! “I named my first chin hair Chester!” she laughs. “You’ve gotta meet this thing with humor, because anyone who tells you menopause isn’t hard is talking shit.”
“It’s Not Hopeless, And You’re Not Helpless”
A lifelong straight-shooter, Stacy isn’t sugar coating anything. “I don’t like catering to this idea that ‘it’s all gonna be OK.’ Yes, menopause is hard, but the caveat is that it’s not hopeless, and you’re not helpless.”
“I see State Of Menopause as the rapid relief, over-the-counter solution that helps you feel better now,” says Stacy. “For me, that was a big thing about being a beta tester. We are not a skincare company. And we want to be the first line of defense against symptoms, even when you’re taking hormones.”
“We Treat Menopause As If It’s a Defect”
In the United States, approximately 1.3 million women become menopausal each year so it can be hard to understand why menopause is still such a taboo subject. For Stacy, it’s because society associates menopause with the embarrassment of aging in midlife, and with women being past their ‘expiration date.’ “Because our patriarchal society prizes youth and fertility, we’re not seen as sexy anymore, so we’ve internalized this sense of shame,” she says. “We see menopause as the death of reproductive health, rather than the beginning of a new iteration of life.”
Instead, we should start to see menopause as a positive opportunity to really look at our health. Stacy used the transition to help her determine what the next 40 years were going to look like for her. Unlike previous generations, for us 50 isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning. So, we’ve got to step up and own all those amazing years we’ve got left to live!
A State Of Menopause Community
Of course, 20 years after ‘What Not to Wear’, the conversational landscape has changed considerably. But if the show that made Stacy famous taught her anything, it’s the importance of trust-based community, “like when your best friend tells you that dress doesn’t suit you.”
That sense of community is especially important to Gen X women, since our moms didn’t talk to us about menopause. So, it’s up to us to take control of the conversation. Which is why Stacy’s vision for State Of Menopause involves offering us “a safe space, where we can talk about options and the different things we can try.”
The best way to create trust is to organically build an inclusive community of individuals experiencing menopausal symptoms. Stacy explains that trans women also come to menopause, while surgical and medical menopause can happen at any age. So, as you might expect, State Of Menopause is big on both education and inclusivity. It’s not just about the different ways in which people come to menopause, but about how we can choose to treat the symptoms. “I saw a real opportunity to meet the needs of a community that were not being met. And I want people to be able to ask questions. I talk about the menopause the way I would talk to friends. And I really believe that those are the building blocks that create our community.”
Career Reinvention- It’s Never Too Late!
“Gen X sits right in the middle of the industrial and technological revolutions,” Stacy says. “And let me tell you something… as a Gen X-er, the tech learning curve has been super-steep! Running a company and understanding things like data metrics have been very, very complicated. But if there’s one thing I want to say to our generation, it’s that it’s never too late to do anything.”
Stacy is on a personal mission to show the world exactly what transformation looks like for Gen X women. She chose to do a swimsuit campaign in her 50s because she wanted to represent what menopausal women truly look like, and she decided to pivot from State Of Menopause’s beta tester to CEO, just because she damn well could. “My constant badgering made me the right candidate to take the company over!” she laughs, “and at 51 I was like, ‘who’s gonna stop me?’”
Stacy admits this was the first time she made a career choice without anyone else’s advice. Deciding to take control feels great, but it can also come with concerns about how other people will react. “It was always going to be a heavy lift no matter what I did, for people to see me in another light,” she says. “But I am really just putting my heart and soul into building a company that I think needs building.”
It’s Time for Gen X to Step into Our Power!
As Gen X women, we can make a choice about what happens to us in midlife. We can choose to blame our age for side-lining us. Or we can choose to own our lives and step into our power.
We know that Gen X women are already out there, using their voices to start important global conversations that make people sit up and listen. Our generation was behind ground-breaking movements like #MeToo, after all. But there is more work for us to do, if we truly want to recognize the power of what we can achieve together.
A big part of that is empowering each other. This is something many Gen X women like Stacy have had to learn. So many of us were brought up with ultra-competitive, shoulder-padded stereotypes of female power. “I was taught to be competitive with my peers,” Stacy says. “There was only one job, there was only one guy we’re dating… we were all fighting each-other. All that is something I’ve had to unlearn, because we really are stronger together.
“We are the generation that can change perceptions in a positive way. And the more we do that, the more everyone benefits, and younger generations won’t feel the same kind of stigma around aging and menopause.”
ABOUT STATE OF MENOPAUSE
In 2021, Stacy became the founder and CEO of State of Menopause, a holistic product line for women which addresses the symptoms associated with menopause and perimenopause. State of Menopause products are rapid relief and innovative formulations to target the specific symptoms of menopause. We care about what you put in or on your body so all products are vegan, cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny certified. All of our ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced. We are here because Menopause is hard (not hopeless) and we exist as a company to make the State of Menopause a little easier. To learn more visit www.stateofmenopause.com