One thing that being perimenopausal taught Gloria Smythe was that she needed to pay closer attention to the most important relationship in her life…the one with herself.
Practicing self-love and being good to yourself is essential as we age. And it’s especially important when tackling menopause transition. Yet, putting our own needs first is something women don’t speak about often. Or even think about, for that matter.
Gloria found this out the hard way. Here’s hoping that her story inspires you to start considering that special someone in your life – you.
Gloria’s menopause story
Gloria Smythe is the Menopause Stylist. She helps women navigate menopause with flair and style, especially as their bodies go through changes they never expected.
Her menopause story is a similar tale and a recurring theme among so many of us…we did not expect it, and we weren’t prepared for it.
For Gloria, her journey started at age 52, when she first started experiencing hot flashes and severe sweating…but just in her face and head. Her insomnia got worse. Weight gain. Joint swellings. Vitamin D deficiency. In a matter of months, she had an onslaught of conditions that affected the quality of her life.
Her experience was so disruptive, that she was motivated to change her diet, including eliminating spicy foods altogether. She added a Vitamin D supplement to her daily regimen after learning she was severely Vitamin D deficient like so many Black women who live in the northern hemisphere. And her doctor started her on a form of hormone therapy treatment to help with the symptoms.
She also felt like she was falling out of love with herself. A studied fashion designer and stylist, Gloria began to notice that she was playing this out by wearing darker colored clothing to match her mood. Her wardrobe wasn’t her “happy place” anymore.
But eventually, her love of fashion and experience as a stylist prevailed! She realized that the answer was not to succumb to dark-hued caftans, but that she needed to find a new and vibrant style that complemented her changing body and made her feel good about herself.
Today, she helps women find their own style and embrace the new realities of mid-life with passion and fun, both in and out of the workplace.
What it means to be The Menopause Stylist
“Fashion has always been a passion of mine; evening wear my specialty. And a few years back, I started wondering how could I add value to what I’m doing? So, I trained with a celebrity stylist on being a personal stylist. But I didn’t want to be just another stylist among many. I needed to differentiate what I could do.
So, I looked at what was happening with me during menopause. I was gaining weight. I didn’t like the way I look or how I dressed anymore. And stores weren’t catering to people like me. Our bodies are transitioning, and the styles selected for the younger generation just don’t appeal to or work for a 56-year-old. I thought, ‘I know the fashion industry, and I know what works and what doesn't’.”
And with that, The Menopause Stylist was born.
“For my process. I normally start off with having a conversation with my clients, and it's mainly to find out where they are in their mindsets, like, are you embracing menopause? Do you feel confident or do you feel lost?
I’ll ask: what do you see when you look in the mirror? And you can always guarantee the first thing is ‘I look old. I can't be bothered. I'm not interested in all of that’.”
So, that’s why she always focuses on mindset as part of the personal styling process. Gloria notes that the mindset shift is the most important component when helping her clients embrace where they are now. But first, they have to let go of some of their mental and emotional baggage.
A pretty consistent theme she notes when working with her clients is that once they get to the wardrobe review, there will be clothes in there – for years – with labels and tags still on. The response? Oh, it’s for when I lose the weight, I’ll be able to wear it.
She advises that hanging on to these things from the past, and seeing them every day, knowing that they haven’t, and will not fit, is not the ideal way and can be a barrier to making the best of your new stage in life.
Because, as Gloria realized for herself, and now models so confidently for her clients, we need to live in the present:
“We're in the present… it's not about the past. Let's look at your present and get you to be in the now.”
“I walk my clients through a wardrobe “detox” and, depending on what’s needed, will take on personal shopping. If it’s done online, I’ll create mood boards and outfits [think Pinterest]. We’ll go through everything from underwear and bras, Spanx, and the outer clothes.”
For Gloria, it’s about empowering women
Menopause is cloaked in a culture of silence and shame. Gloria notes that her mother never really spoke with her about her own experience with menopause. And it’s not taught in schools (though this is changing). This culture of silence is another recurring theme that Menopause Made Modern and Gloria…(along with so many others) is trying to address.
“We have this notion that we should be ashamed of being old. Women can have menopause at twenty-five and thirty years old. It’s a symptom, and it’s a condition. But menopause should not define us as women…it's not menopause first, and then the woman.”
To make her point, she highlights how women in media can thrive in their roles even as they make their way through mid-life – on a public stage. They still live strong, vibrant lives.
“The media has a role to play in how women view themselves once they get into menopause. I know magazines like British Vogue have been doing a lot more focused work featuring more older women, like my icon, Jane Fonda.
I use as my inspiration women who are in the limelight, who do not let menopause negatively impact them. Women like Michelle Obama and Viola Davis. These women who are out there in their 50s, embracing their own aging and they are slaying.”
Final thoughts … look good, feel good
Self-care matters when you’re navigating menopause transition.
As we embrace this new phase in life, we need to remember that our mindset can influence our overall health and well-being. And as Gloria shows through her work as the Menopause Stylist, when we look good, we can feel good.
The best relationship you can have, is the one with yourself. So, take care of your mental health. Renew your mindset and embrace self-love. And when you do, it translates to every other area of your life.
If you’d like to learn more about Gloria and her styling services, consider booking a free 1-hour consultation to see how she can help you find your new style and fall in love with yourself again. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram @themenopausestylistmentor and join her Facebook Group, Menopause in Style with Gloria.