I’ve had a challenging year this year health-wise with many other changes going on so it’s been some time since I last posted. Speaking of changes, while I simultaneously go through a major transition in my own life, I thought as part of this larger portrait project on the womb, I would launch a side portrait project called “Change” to focus on women entering/completing “The Change” (peri- or full-on menopause) and sit down with friends and strangers to talk about it! Each blog post for this particular project will include both a portrait session and an audio recording of conversations shared with project participants.
To kick it off, I reached out to friends via Facebook to see if any women I already knew might be interested in participating in this project. I was lucky that Kat — a great gal and a friend I’ve known for a good number of years now — was the first to volunteer. The best part was she wore her favourite David Bowie tee so we could talk about the various ch-ch-ch-ch-changes we are going through at this stage of our lives! (A wee reminder that you can click on any of the photos below to see a larger version and scroll through them.)
Kat is a local high-school teacher and she tells me she began peri-menopause around aged 41 and menstruation ultimately ended by the time she reached 44 years of age. The symptoms she encountered included exhaustion, dysmennorhea and migraines. As cancer runs in Kat’s family, she got pretty freaked out about the symptoms she was encountering and approached her doctor who confirmed peri-menopause. From the onset of menstruation (Kat experienced menarche at 14) , she describes her menstruation as having been “clockwork”, a fairly regular period (except for period she was pregnant and breastfeeding) for about 30 years.
Kat and I met at my home recently so I could shoot some portraits of her, after which we moved to the kitchen to chat over tea about our mutual experiences of entering peri-meno and, finally, full on menopause. Have a listen to part of our conversation (and please pardon the sound of the kettle boiling at the beginning. The sound quality does improve even if I use an expletive at one point. Pardon my French!)
My thanks to Kat for sitting for this portrait project and granting me permission to share our discussion here on periods, feminism and the shame we’re constantly meant to feel surrounding our bodies’ natural rhythms. The aim of this project and its umbrella documentary project, Womb, is to de-stigmatize what we go through related to reproductive health and encourage open discussion, education, greater respect and understanding for ourselves and each other.