A recently released book dealing with menopause might initially seem like an unlikely topic for a website about curly hair.
For the book’s author, however, who goes simply by “E”, her curly hair was very much a part of her personal journey through perimenopause and menopause (which she shortens to a handy “PM&M”).
“Shmirshky: think inside the box” is the title of this seriously fun and easy-to-read guide to surviving PM&M, which few women are truly prepared for. E (which stands for “everyone” — that’s who the book is for, she says) says her friend Marcia referred to both vaginas and women as “shmirskys.” (“Erlick”, by the way, was her friend’s nickname for penises and men.)
“Marcia was a dear friend and mentor of mine and I wanted to dedicate the book to her and in memory of her, so I chose ‘Shmirshky’ as the title,” says E. “It makes the conversation a lot lighter, though it really is a serious topic.”
PM&M isn’t talked about much. It’s a totally not-fun time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop working, she stops having periods, her hormone levels change dramatically, and, says E, “your brain, your body and your life transform into something you’re totally unfamiliar with. You begin to questions your sanity, relationships, hormones, genetics, sex drive, age, food clothes, underwear, everything!”
“Shmirshky” is broken into humorous, quick, easy-to-read chapters addressing topics such as choosing the right doctor, hormone replacement therapy, thyroid issues, acupuncture, raving lunacy and more.
The author, "E"
E emphasizes the book is not just for women. Husbands, sons, daughters should also read the book, to understand what their beloved shmirshkys are enduring.
“This book is written for the ordinary shmirshy and the people who love her. There’s no book that I could hand to my husband and say ‘Honey, please read this’,” E says. Ordinary menopause books are “long and technical,” she says.
E tells a story about how she was having some remodeling work done on her home, and one by one, as the burly construction workers got wind of the subject of her book, they sheepishly approached her, asking to buy the book. She generously gave each a copy, telling the men that they had to read it first, before sharing it with their wives. The men were grateful and eager to better understand what was happening to the woman they’d been married to for so many years.
“One person at a time, we can make a difference,” E says. “We can change the conversation.”
One of the book’s biggest themes is the need to love your new self—to recognize that PM&M will change you and that you should embrace this new self. E says that one of the most significant ways she changed during her own PM&M was to embrace her curly hair.
Her whole life, E had fought her curls, straightening and beating them into submission. “I used to use this humongous orange juice can and use Dippity-Do,” she says, in a refrain all too familiar to many curlygirls. “I would sit under a hair dryer forever,” she says. “This is how I lived my life for years. The hours I spent blow drying, flat ironing . . . ”
“Going through PM&M allows you to embrace yourself. You feel like an alien has taken over your body. You look at yourself in a new way. I said to myself, ‘You know what? I have curly hair, and it’s great.’ I learned a lot about myself.”
“When we embrace, we have a lot more joy in our lives,” she says. She now proudly embraces her beautiful curly hair.