The 52-year-old describes herself as a ‘menopausal midlife mindset shifter and a positivity rebel’ on social media, but she wasn’t always as she is now.
In debt from the time she was 17, Lou says she was ‘a terrible shopaholic’ for her entire life and didn’t truly feel confident until she was in her 40s.
That was when, one day, she had an epiphany about her addiction after she spent £450 on a pair of Kurt Geiger shoes.
‘I woke up in the middle of the night in a complete panic attack thinking: “What the hell are you doing? You can’t keep living like this, you’ve got to do something,”‘ she tells Metro.co.uk’s Smut Drop podcast. ‘So the next day I woke up, and I said to my husband: “I’m going to stop shopping for a year I’m not going to buy anything.”
‘Lots of people do this now for sustainability reasons,, but to be honest, for me, it was trying to get my addiction under control.’
She decided blog her recovery journey, including what the shopping withdrawal was like and what she was wearing every day while she couldn’t shop for anything new.
This meant that she was one of the first people on the internet doing Outfit Of The Day (‘ootd’ to the social media savvy), which went on to become a very popular thing for people to share online.
Lou says: ‘I had mums coming up to me in the playground that same day telling me about their husbands’ addiction to gambling. And it was before even Instagram, I was on Tumblr. There was just porn and me on there, pretty much. Then I started to find confidence in my style.
‘It gave me a feeling I’d never had before at the end of the year when I’d finished. I was like: “What’s this?” And it was accomplishment and confidence. I was 41, and it was the first time in my whole life I felt confident, which just blew my mind.’
After a move to America for her husband’s work, when Lou’s 20-year marriage came to an end, she found herself getting horny again for the first time
‘We very much have different journeys,’ she says of the split. ‘When we arrived in America, I found myself and my stride with middle age, and was embracing the menopause. But he was really struggling with American corporate culture. And we really, really lost our way.
‘It wasn’t anything dreadful that happened. It was just I was like: “Hang on a minute. I seem to have been putting everyone else first for the last 20 years. And what about me?” So when I started asking that, there didn’t seem to be room for me in that setup.’
She adds that, while their marriage was ‘so ace in so many ways’, sex fell a bit by the wayside in their relationship.
‘[Sex] was such a huge part of my life before I met him,’ Lou says. ‘I thought: “Oh, maybe I used up all my sex.”
After she posted about these feelings of hers online, a vibrator company reached out to her and asked if she wanted to test some of their products.
‘This was the first time I felt really sexually empowered and liberated for myself,’ she says, ‘and not for somebody else.’
Now, she uses these experiences to help other people, and starts by recommending people get to know their bodies on their own terms.
‘Time is so precious, right?’ she says. ‘It’s very rare, sometimes, to even make time for yourself. So before you even start looking at yourself in the mirror, or thinking about vibrators, I would make sure you’ve got some fitness in your life.
‘It’s so important knowing your body. And through fitness, you understand how your body works, so then when the menopause starts kicking in, you know what’s happening, and you can listen to your body because you understand it more.’
When it comes to getting back in touch with the sexy side of your body, Lou recommends giving it a good look.
‘Take your clothes off,’ she instructs, ‘look at your body. Take some sexy pictures of yourself in sexy for yourself, not for anybody else. This is not about anybody else.
‘Have a date with yourself. Put the candles on. It sounds ludicrous, but put the tunes on and have a good dance around the kitchen in nothing but your knickers. Send everyone out, close the curtains, but just let go.
‘Literally dance like nobody’s watching.’
And if you’re nervous about vibrators, Lou recommends going with a clit-sucking toy instead of something that penetrates.
You might be sceptical that masturbation is all that important for people going through menopause, but Lou says she’s experienced first-hand how much that kind of self-care can help.
‘I know everybody’s menopause is different,’ she says, ‘but feeling sexy, valuing myself, and having the confidence in myself helped me tackle all the other stuff.’
Lou also really recommends journaling as well as ‘finding gratitude’ and writing these things you’re happy about down.
‘And I am a big fan of forgiveness,’ she adds, ‘but it’s got to start with yourself as well. If you’re doing something sh**ty own it. Look at yourself.’
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