Menopause, Morrocco and Soft Adventure
The Queenager : Eleanor's Letter (October 16th 2022)
Well I’m sitting in my DryRobe still shivering a bit from immersion in the Hampstead Ladies Pond this morning, which call me weird, was chillier but infinitely lovelier than the electric turquoise pool of my hotel in Marrakesh (where I was talking at the ABTA conference, above).
I love Morocco, I first went there at 19 and drove over the Atlas mountains and out into the desert in a Renault 4 with my brother and a male mate. Everyone thought we were mad. I didn’t really get it. But now, I reckon I must have been bonkers to play chicken on single track roads with huge trucks. In my salad days I loved the frisson of being the girl driver (I was the only one with a license); the very act of being at the wheel was a challenge to the machismo of the society…
You might say…. plus ca change!
Last week I was there talking about Queenagers to the ABTA Travel Convention. I was making the point that midlife women are behind 95% of all household spending decisions but appear in less than 12% of ads (it’s actually even lower than that, 12% is both men and women of 50 plus). This is particularly true in travel, where women tend to choose the holidays, book the holidays, arrange all the stuff for the holidays… It was great to see the penny dropping in the audience. One top travel chap came up to me afterwards and said: “You’ve got a point, most of our biggest spenders are Queenagers.” I know. A pal who runs one of the biggest concierge businesses in the world (they look after all the high net worth clients of many of the major banks) told me it is always women who arrange the holidays. Yet these brands rarely speak directly to us in their comms I was there to suggest that they did and to help them with the how…
I was asked which brands were getting it right for this demographic. I mentioned Intrepid whose ads are full of Queenager adventurers and who even use female guides in places like Morocco and Iran (there weren’t any, so they are training them up… one even appeared on the BBC). The other campaign which represents Queenagers is Seabourn Cruises, This is Your Moment. I talked about them because I love their ads which were done by Grace Creative in LA (started by Queenagers, for Queenagers) which are all about womenin midlife who have worked hard finally getting the dream trip they deserve – and I’d been chatting to the Founders on LinkedIn. But blow me! As I said mentioned this ad, three very lovely Queenagers – who I’d noticed were enjoying my chat – stood up and cheered. They were from Seabourn and I had no idea they were even in the audience. They were so chuffed they took me out for lunch – what lovely ladies! You see when Queenagers help Queenagers all is possible… Hopefully that kind of representation will become the norm and older women won’t feel so invisible anymore!
And the truth is that women in midlife go on lots of different kinds of breaks; they are choosing the villas or whatever for classic family ones, sure. But also, increasingly, multi-generational holidays with grandparents and grown up children, or breaks just with girl friends (nearly a third of Queenagers don’t have kids), and increasingly what is called ‘soft adventure’, doing those trips we’ve always dreamt of, diving, hiking, etc before we get too old to do them. A case in point is Noon Advisory Board member Lisa McCauley who runs the Silver Travel Advisory (and is powering our own Noon Travel). In the last fortnight she ran a marathon and then climbed the highest mountain in Morocco; she’s also a Founder. After several decades as a high powered travel executive she now runs her own show arranging trips for, and led by, Queenagers. (We’re leading several together over the next year, we aim for them to be a mixture of retreat and adventure; Noon ladies taking on the world! Check them out here and come and join us, I can’t wait!) Ps I PROMISE not to drive.) And some we’ll do with Intrepid and their local female guides so we can empower Queenagers everywhere and spread the word that it is never too late and you are never too old!
I was so touched by all the women who came up to me in the days after my talk and said how much it had meant to them to be SEEN. To be REPRESENTED. I’ve had so many emails since saying how the talk had struck a chord with the senior men there too. I really hope we’ve put Queenagers on the map. Given all the economic gloom and doom, we are a good bet. I know the financial situation feels hairy but relative to many we still have more cash than most; all the slides from the likes of PWC on the future of the economy showed that the silver pound is going to be the most stable in the year ahead. Fingers crossed on that! I also talked about all the Queenagers who are child free and mega travellers; one lady at the conference told me she’d just come back from celebrating a single friend’s 50th in Venice. “It was like a wedding, hen and honeymoon in one; she paid for 22 of us to go out for the whole weekend, hotels, a gala dinner – it was heaven…” Travel industry take note. We Queenagers come in many shapes and sizes. It’s NOT just about mums and grannies!
I did cause a bit of a buzz when I explained that the menopause was not the answer to their branding issues. That while we want the right treatment and information to sort out our menopause and for companies not to fire us because of it, we don’t want to be defined by it, just like my teenage daughters don’t want to be branded ‘menstrual’ or you wouldn’t say to a room full of middle aged chaps: “It’s the Viagra years, welcome to the limp dick club.” (Oh I think I just did..)
So on to menopause. I’ve written about this in the Guardian today Over the past couple of years the conversation about this has exploded with a raft of celebrities talking about how it has been for them and some high-profile projects such as Davina McCall’s documentary series on Channel 4. This has had a huge effect on the ground – the number of prescriptions for HRT has increased by 30 per cent, with an extra 500,000 women asking for and getting it ,according to the latest figures from the NHS. It’s been dubbed the Davina Effect, which is a huge achievement (kudos to Kate Muir, the producer and researcher behind the series, don’t miss her article on Noon about her own Car Crash Menopause). But there are huge disparities around access to care. Women in the most deprived areas of the UK are half as likely to be prescribed HRT as those in the lest deprived, and when they do get it it is often older varieties with more side effects.
When it comes to other diverse communities many women still think that menopause is a posh white woman’s issue. The next frontier in the menopause debate has to be widening access to information and treatment – so here at Noon we have assembled a stellar panel of women to discuss how to do exactly that. We’ll be exploring everything from whether technology is a solution? To what policies government could introduce which might help, following on from the All Party Parliamentary Group which reported last week? What do women from different communities need on the ground? How do we spread the word so it gets heard where it most needs to?
We’ve got an amazing panel of fabulously formidable, interesting women including Carolyn Harris MP (the politician who put the menopause on the map, I interviewed her for our Inclusive Menopause campaign, you can read it on Noon here). We’ve also got Noon Board member Yasmin Alibhai Brown (who has written such a moving article about her aunties and how women in her south Asian community suffered and continue to suffer because they don’t get the treatment they need on Noon). We’ve got Kate Muir, producer of the Davina documentary, as well as Anita Powell, an community activist who connects marginalised women with treatment and Jennifer Howze Editorial Director of Netmums which represents a lower-income demographic. Also joining us is Tina Backhouse of Theramex, who has campaigned passionately on this and Andrea Berchowitz, one of the only female Founders who has raised multi-millions for a technological solution (do check out her Stellar app).
As always, we’d love to know what you amazing Queenagers in our Noon community think too, and what you would like me to ask our panel, so please send any questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be sure to ask the panellists.
Thanks so much for supporting what we do here at Noon and being a wonderful Queenager. If you’d like access to exclusive events, my Noon Circles and to support Noon’s campaign against gendered-ageism do become a Paid Subscriber.
All the best
By Eleanor Mills