Hello and welcome!  I am a portrait photographer based in North London.  I absolutely love what I do which I hope shows in the photographs that I've taken. I shoot predominantly with natural light at your home or on location which gives my images a very personal and natural style. If you're looking to book me for business headshots, please take a look at my dedicated corporate and personal branding page. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and looking at my photos, if you would like to make a booking please call me on 07527 711 967 or drop me a line HERE.  

40 OVER 40 Caroline Jones

June 12, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

40 0ver 40 logo  copy 240 0ver 40 logo copy 2

 

#18

Caroline Jones

Fundraiser and Vintage Stylist

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

 

In lockdown 2020 I started a fundraising campaign called Front Door Photo raising money for Refuge by photographing people standing at their front doors.  I expected the project to last for a few days and hoped to raise £1000 if I was lucky.  It ended up going on for two months and in the end I raised £21,284.  It was such a rewarding thing to do, but boy was it hard work. Cue a phone call from someone called Caroline Jones, a woman who had embarked on her own fundraising project nearly 10 years prior. We bonded instantly and were able to chat about all of the behind the scenes admin that goes with running a charity campaign.  She wanted to start a podcast talking to fellow fundraisers and revealing everything that goes on to make it a success and she very kindly asked if I would be one of her guests.  Her What Have I Done? podcast has been a huge success and she's busy planning season two. 

Caroline has a life long passion for all things secondhand and her charity project, Knickers Models' Own (in memory of her mother) saw her donning a different second hand outfit every single day for an entire year.  She raised a fortune for Cancer Research UK and even published a book which features a photograph of Caroline taken by non other than photography legend, Rankin.

Caroline has been talking secondhand clothing long before it became trendy with the likes of Vinted and her instagram feed @knickers_models_own is a real inspiration if, like me, you find yourself in a bit of a fashion rut. During our session she took me to her local Cancer Research UK shop, where she has her own curated rail, and you could just feel her enthusiasm for the place radiating out of her.  Caroline has kindly answered some questions for me and I found her answers really inspiring. I hope you will too. 

Thank you Caroline for being one of my 40 inspiring women over the age of 40!

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

 

How did your passion for second-hand shopping start? 

As a child growing up in the 1970s hand-me-downs were a big thing, I would eagerly anticipate the moment my older cousins' outgrown clothes made their way down the line together with bundles of well thumbed Jackie magazines, this was the catalyst for wanting to wear other peoples' clothes and the roots of my love for styling. Second-hand has always felt 'new' to me and as a teenager in the 1980s - pre-charity shops and the designers of shopping apps probably not even born - I would regularly raid my mum's or grandmother's wardrobe for authentic '60s pieces, my love of the music from that era defining (and still defining) my style. Jumble sales were also rich pickings, diving into piles of knitwear on a church hall trestle table. Oh the joy! Shopping in an actual second-hand shop came thanks to my JustSeventeen magazine pull-out shopping guide and age 15 I took myself off to American vintage emporium FLIP on Long Acre, Covent Garden, London. Vintage fringed suede jackets, original Levi's 501s, Ivy League baseball jackets, flat-top haircuts, music blaring, a buzz like nothing I'd ever seen. I was hooked.... (Side style note: its now a flagship Hobbs store and whenever I'm in the area I'll always pop my head in, just to remember the magic).

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

 

Is there an art to charity shopping? What are your tips? 

Patience and curiosity are your friend. But, before you step one toe inside a charity shop or click 'buy' STOP right there and ask yourself honestly: "do I know what's already in my wardrobe?" and "what are my wardrobe 'gaps'?". Having that mental checklist will help you narrow down what it is you're looking for; it might take time - imagine that? - but when you step out of the fashion lane and into the styling lane you realise that there is no time pressure and that frees you up to shop slowly and with consideration. My number one tip is to shop in-store on your local high street, that way you are using all your senses to really decide if a purchase is right: try it on, hold it up to the light, look closely at the tailoring, examine the fabric, the trim, the buttons, the weight of the fabric, see how it hangs, walk around in it. Look on all the rails, including menswear and teens, you never know what you might discover. Oh and it's okay to leave a charity shop empty-handed, there really is no rush. 

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

 

What does fashion mean to you? 

I see fashion as the gateway to styling and styling is how I express myself, bringing me far more pleasure than the 'what's-in-fashion' lane. I'm 56 in August which means I've been around the fashion planet many times, so I see retailers and designers hitting the repeat button over and over and that means I can dismiss styles that I don't feel work for me and instead focus on gathering up pieces - velvet, tailoring, denim, tweed, t-shirts, lambswool knits, costume jewellery, rolled-edge silk scarves... that bring me joy. 

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

 

Is there anything in your life that you’ve done that you would only have done thanks to being older?

Without doubt, at the age of 46, my year-long 2015 fundraising campaign 'Knickers Model's Own' pushed me way out of my comfort zone, both creatively and from a public facing perspective. I found myself well and truly under the spotlight and I think had I been any younger I probably would've talked myself out of it. I discovered both my second-hand styling 'voice' and my fundraising 'voice', giving me huge confidence to stand up and speak publicly. Discovering a passion for a topic is a wonderful feeling and I try and use it to make a positive difference. 

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

What advice would you give to your teenage self? 

To see what I now see and to tell my teen self "My gosh Caroline, you have the most beautiful eyes, skin, hair, tummy, bottom, arms, teeth, knees, elbows, eyelashes...." 

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline JonesBy Jenny Smith

 

How’s the menopause been for you so far and what kind of impact has it had on your life, if any?

Joining up the dots has helped: the aches, the fog, the lethagy, the facial bloody hair, the lack of confidence spilling over into my life and an acceptance that my body has and is changing. I do my best to help myself, so I talk about it with my husband, my family, my close friends, I take HRT, I have days where I go slow, I have days where I'm full of energy, I walk, I love my yoga and I use styling as my armour of choice. 

  

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

Any words of wisdom for women over 40? 

From my teens through to my thirties I thought far more about my age, my capabilities and where I fitted in. Now I rarely stop to think about how old I am, I just do stuff, somethings work out, somethings don't quite happen, but I never use my age as a reason to think I can't do something. I also love to have friendships with older and younger people, conversations full of insight, observations and laughter. We've gotta find laughter! 

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

I think it's fair to say that our hormones have affected us all at some time in our lives be it puberty, PMT, pregnancy or the menopause.  If that's you then check out my podcast, Dear Hormones, hopefully it'll make you smile. You can listen to it here.
 


40 OVER 40 Sam McAlister

June 04, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

40 0ver 40 logo  copy 240 0ver 40 logo copy 2

 

#17

Sam McAlister

Author, Public Speaker and responsible for that Price Andrew Interview

 

Sam McAlister by Jenny SmithSam McAlisterby Jenny Smith

 

If you've watched the brilliant Netflix film 'Scoop' staring Gillian Anderson and Billie Piper, you will know all about Sam McAlister, the woman behind Newsnight's game changing interview with Prince Andrew.  The second I finished watching it I searched for Sam on instagram and messaged her to see if she would consider being in my 40 OVER 40 project.  When she replied with a yes I think I actually punched the air.

Now that I've met Sam in the flesh I can tell you how accurately Billie Piper's portrayal of her really is.  She's bold, confident and funny as well as being incredibly polite, kind and considerate. A woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid of taking chances in life. Everything this project is here to celebrate.  

Sam's life has taken an about-turn on more than one occasion.  Once a lawyer she soon realised this wasn't the job for her and set about looking for a new career. She tried a few things but landed on journalism and eventually a job as a producer at BBC's Newsnight.  It was Sam's skill at building trust that lead her to booking the biggest guest of her career, Prince Andrew, which in turn took her life in yet another direction. She ended up writing her book Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC's Most Shocking Interviews where she spills the beans on what it was like booking guests such as Sheryl Sandberg, President Clinton, Elon Musk, Julian Assange and of course, Prince Andrew.

Sam is such an inspiring woman and left me feeling more confident in my own career choices, confirming that it's OK to take calculated risks in life, even if those risks don't pay off.

Thank you Sam for being one of my 40 women over 40!

 

Sam McAlister by Jenny SmithSam McAlisterby Jenny Smith

 

1. You really stood your ground at the BBC which is not an easy thing to do as a woman in an institution like that.  Did you feel different to your colleagues and how do you think that helped or hindered you?

I was never bothered that I felt different to my colleagues — that feeling had accompanied me all my life, since I started law school, and through many years of employment. Being able to look at things differently, or work without worrying about what people think of you, is a superpower in a traditional institution. It sets you apart. So, while it may sometimes hinder progression, it’s the only way I know how to be. 

 

Sam McAlister by Jenny SmithSam McAlisterby Jenny Smith

 

2. This project celebrates strong and inspiring women. What women have inspired you over the years? 

The woman who most inspired me is my Mum. Sadly, sometimes that’s the only woman who you know has truly got your back.

 

Sam McAlister by Jenny SmithSam McAlisterby Jenny Smith

 

3. Being a single parent isn’t easy as a working woman but it's also an incredible motivator, how do you think motherhood impacted your career? 

Motherhood got me to Newsnight. When I returned to the BBC after having my son, my boss at Radio 4 wouldn’t let me return to my former full time job as a part time worker and put me in a very dull department called ‘development’ so I had to find something new to do. That ended up being Newsnight. All the hits I’ve taken over the years have always turned into a better opportunity. I had to leave the BBC to write my book 'Scoops' as they wouldn’t let me do it as staff and that turned into a Netflix movie, so BBC hurdles have been kind to me. 

 

Sam McAlister by Jenny SmithSam McAlisterby Jenny Smith

 

You are rightly proud of your working class roots, do you think your background informed your career choices?

Of course, I am resolutely middle class now, but having the peril of needing to pay the bills, and having to start from nothing, with no contacts or favours I could pull, has made me a grafter who knows that my success is based on merit, not privilege, and I feel proud of that.

 

Caroline Jones by Jenny SmithCaroline Jonesby Jenny Smith

 

The Prince Andrew documentary changed everything at the very top of the royal family, and you made that happen.  What does that feel like and what advice would you give to other young women starting out and finding their own voices?

It felt amazing to work on something that ended up being a huge part of our country’s journalistic history — and obviously hugely important for the BBC and Newsnight also. Of course, if he had said 'no’ no one would have known about me or my work. I loved my job and believed that what I did mattered, so my advice would be to chase your dreams and enjoy them, even if they don’t come to something this momentous. Enjoying the work is the really important part. 
 

Sam McAlister by Jenny SmithSam McAlisterBy Jenny Smith

 

How has your life changed since the film came out?

It’s been an incredible experience and I’m hugely grateful for every second. The best part is being stopped by people, or contacted, with them saying how much they enjoyed the movie and how it reminded them of the importance of their work.
  

Sam McAlister by Jenny SmithSam McAlisterby Jenny Smith

 

What advice would you give to other women wanting a career change later on in life?

My advice is to plan. My past few years looks seamless — book agent, book deal, documentary for Channel 4, Netflix deal, but that's one in a billion. I had ensured I had enough funds to throw the dice for two years and I have worked every day, and weekend, without a break for the past thirty months. If you can’t afford to eat, the plan isn’t worth trying until you can.

 

Sam McAlister by Jenny SmithSam McAlisterby Jenny Smith

 

What a woman! Thank you Sam for being part of the 40 OVER 40 project.

 

I think it's fair to say that our hormones have affected us all at some time in our lives be it puberty, PMT, pregnancy or the menopause.  If that's you then check out my podcast, Dear Hormones, hopefully it'll make you smile. You can listen to it here.
 


40 OVER 40 Farah Ahamed

May 29, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

40 0ver 40 logo  copy 240 0ver 40 logo copy 2

 

#16

Farah Ahamed

Author of Period Matters and Cofounder of Panties with Purpose

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

 

Voted one of the Financial Times' Women of 2022, Farah Ahamed is a former human rights lawyer and the author of Period Matters, a book about menstruation and how it is perceived across South Asia.  She was once stopped and asked if she was menstruating before entering a temple in India, and told to hide her sanitary pads in a brown paper bag when shopping in a supermarket in Pakistan.  It led her to investigate further the different experiences women have and the different viewpoints of menstruation across the region.

Farah and her sisters also set up a campaign called Panties with Purpose collecting new cotton underpants to send to schoolgirls in Kenya. They set out to collect 4000 pairs but to date has distributed over 70,000!

I spent a wonderful morning with Farah, getting to know her and taking some beautiful photographs. She was also very patient with me, standing in a chilly back ally as we attempted to get shots of her sari blowing in the wind! It was definitely worth it though.

Please read on to hear more from this incredible woman who is putting her time and talent into celebrating the power of femininity.

Thank you Farah for taking the time to answer these questions and for being part of my 40 OVER 40 project.

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

 

Tell me about your book Period Matters - can you explain the topics you cover and what spurred you on to compile it.  

The idea for this anthology came to me in the summer of 2019 when it occurred to me that the diversity of the experience of menstruation could best be reflected in a book which included art, fiction and non-fiction. 

I decided the book would move away from the conventional to a deeper and more honest cultivation of stories about menstruation. I asked myself: How could the different perspectives be best presented? Who would be the writers and artists to capture the diversity of representations? The answer lay in complete creative liberty. There would be no brief on genre or format, only an invitation to contributors to share their individual stories in their own way.  The book includes poetry, fiction, art and a specially commissioned dance which interprets the menstrual cycle through classical dance moves, which can be viewed through a QR code. The cover is also unusual; it carries a detail from a visual made with the artist’s menstrual blood. 

The anthology highlights over forty different intersectional perspectives to make conversation more inclusive by providing a glimpse into the way menstruation is viewed by people from different genders, backgrounds, religions, cultures and classes. It carries the stories of factory workers in Bangladesh, nuns in Bhutan, students in Afghanistan, policy makers entrepreneurs in India, artists in Pakistan, refugees in Sri Lanka, and activists in Nepal. It highlights the debate around period leave and how digital tracking apps impact users. It also illustrates how menstruation can be a time of creativity, rest and rejuvenation. It tries to be inclusive in depicting how menstruation is experienced by people with disabilities, the trans gender community, those who are homeless and incarcerated.

My decision to focus on South Asia was motivated by two events. The first is when I was stopped and asked if I was menstruating as I was about to enter a Jain temple in India. The second is when I picked up a packet of sanitary pads while shopping at a supermarket in Pakistan and a male shop attendant rushed over and told me to hide them in a brown bag to avoid being humiliated at the checkout counter. I found both incidents disturbing – being questioned about intimate details of my body by a stranger and having my behaviour in a public space controlled because menstruation was associated with shame. I realized once again how much I had taken for granted.

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

 

Tell us more about Panties with Purpose and how it all started.

In 2011, my two sisters and I started an informal campaign, Panties with Purpose. Our objective was to raise awareness and help 1000 schoolgirls with menstrual products. In those days, the phrase ‘period poverty,’ hadn’t been coined, no one was talking about periods openly. 

We kept our strategy simple: we would ask donors to give us new cotton underpants. We felt that if they had to go out and buy a pair of underpants instead of donating cash, they would be more likely to talk about the issue with friends. Also, as we were not a registered charity, this approach would make it easier for us to manage our operations.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Our plan worked. Within less than two months we had strangers writing to us from over sixty  cities including Mumbai, Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Vancouver saying they were moved by the issue and wanted to support us. We also partnered with local Kenyan artists including Iddi Achieng, and hosted a ‘menstruation awareness’ concert where the entry ticket was a packet of pads or underpants. Our target had been to collect 4,000 pairs of underpants, but we ended up receiving over 40,000.  

Thanks to a donation from Virgin Atlantic and many friends, the underpants were then transported to Kenya. Later, in a school in Kibera, Google sponsored our first-ever event on International Women’s Day in 2011, which included a menstrual health workshop.

Since then, Panties with Purpose has distributed over 70,000 pairs of pants to more than 17,000 girls, and sponsored health education and skills-training workshops across 200 locations in Kenya. We have lobbied for period-friendly schools, workplaces and places of worship. Our advocacy work has extended to the distribution of free period products in schools, supported innovation around developing pads using local materials, as well as the removal of the tampon tax. 

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

 

What cultural differences are there when it comes to women’s health in South Asia compared to where you live now?  How do you think things can improve?

While compiling Period Matters,  I was intrigued to find how diverse the experience was; in some places there were restrictions, in others it was a time of healing and rest, and in still others, a celebration. I saw how it depended the on context and the identity of the menstruator. While there were political, religious, social, and cultural factors impacting the experience, class, caste, gender and occupation also played a role. 

Some factors are common to all parts of the world: access to a choice of affordable menstrual products, and the continued shame and stigma around the experience. 

I have been thinking about how menstruators navigate different spaces. Do they maintain their menstrual practices when they leave home and move to another country? How does interacting with another context affect their understanding of menstruation? Does it help them shed their shame or heighten it? What is it like for them at home and how is it different at school or work? 

And what about boys and men? When and where do they learn about menstruation? How do they feel about it? How can they be helped to understand it better? How can men help to break the stigma around periods? I wrote an essay for LARB, ‘Men Explain Periods to Me,’ where I shared the different reactions to Period Matters, which I received from men which included: disgust, confusion, anger, fear and death threats. This tells you how limited their understanding is of menstruation, and how alien it feels to them.

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

 

Through Panties with Purpose and compiling Period Matters, a common theme became apparent. At the core of every narrative about menstruation is a call for a greater dignity and freedom. This means the choice to speak openly or remain silent; to stay in a room or leave; to be admitted to a place of worship and family events. It means choice relating to education, marriage and what to eat. And symbolic of all basic human needs, the right to choice of menstrual products, instead of a soiled rag. 

I am optimistic the book will instigate more menstruation discussions. I hope the radical cover of Period Mattters and other art in the book will motivate other artists to use their creativity for menstrual activism. Environmentally sustainable solutions for menstrual products are much needed today and possibly the efforts made in South Asia, highlighted in Period Matters, will prompt young entrepreneurs. For those who do not menstruate, I hope they become more compassionate. 

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

 

Are you aware of how women deal with menopause in South Asia?  Things are only really being talked about openly in this country in the last few years - what’s the situation there and do you see if changing? 

Since compiling Period Matters I’ve become more aware of the words and phrases used to describe menstruation and menopause in different languages. Often these are euphemisms, and if they exist at all are loaded with implications. 

For instance, in Bengali, menstruation is referred to as ‘shorir kharap,’ or being unwell. But in Jharkhand, the Santals call it ‘hormo baha,’ or flower of the body.  It is interesting to think about how language alters our experience and perception of menstruation. 

While growing up in Kenya, I don’t recall periods having a specific name. One time I heard my aunt telling my mother, in half-Kiswahili and half-Gujarati, ‘Mgeni aiva che,’ meaning; ‘The visitors are here.’ For many years, I never understood the phrase. It was a coded language shared by women in a world where the word ‘menstruation’ was not acceptable. Similarly, there is no word for menopause in Gujrati, or I haven’t come across it yet. These erasures and silences signal that the subject is still taboo or shameful and there is still widespread ignorance.

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

 

In the digital world of period tracking apps, we find something sinister going on in relation to language. The words used there, including the persuasive marketing references to managing, controlling, cleanliness, hygiene, and health all point to there being a normative idea of a period, but in fact there is none, because each person has a different body. What eventually happens is that through continuous interactions and engagement with the app, users’ subjectivity is impacted. 

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

cont.. The reactions to the art work in Period Matters have ranged from awe and confusion to shock and rage. Some have vowed never to touch the book – a book with a visual of artwork made of menstrual blood was a step too far. It is telling how the ‘ick’ factor around menstrual blood, even for those who consider themselves broad-minded, is generally a given. Menstrual blood is stigmatised, and this has been accepted as the rule. Women’s reproductive health is woefully understudied and underfunded.  One of the best sources of biological material for studying women’s reproductive health is menstrual blood, but because of its stigma, menstrual blood has rarely been studied in detail. 

The only way to take away the shame around menstruation and menstrual blood is to make the conversations around it commonplace, in the home, at schools, and at workplaces.

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah AhamedBy Jenny Smith

 

This project celebrates women over 40 - how have you found this stage in your life so far?  

I suppose you could say it was only in my forties that I found the courage to experiment with new ideas and explore my creativity and decided to try and write full-time. I signed up for courses, joined a writing group and was lucky enough to find a mentor. Since then, I’ve been on a journey with many highs and lows. But the best part is I’m continually learning, and always challenging myself. 

I think if I had not made that shift in my early forties, during my menopause I would have been really, really miserable. With the brain fog and sleeplessness, the thing that kept me going was writing- on many days the blank page was where I felt I had some sort of space and freedom, even though on others, it was torture.

In your fifties, sometimes you imagine you have a slightly better sense of who you are, your place in the world, and what you want to do. On other days, it feels like nothing is clear. But I suppose, hopefully, that means one is evolving, and searching for ways to experience oneself more fully.   

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

 

If you could go back and give you teenage self some advice what would you say?

My mother died when she was 54, which is how old I will be this year, and so I’ve been thinking a lot about her, and what it must have been like for her to die so young, and how it affected me and the decisions I made because of that. She had a deep faith in a God who was compassionate, and she constantly reminded me of this.  

So, to my younger self, I would give the same reminders, but add, have as much fun as you can, be more daring. Throw caution to the wind. Don’t worry about perfection or failure, because they are meaningless. And be as kind as you can to yourself and others. Because at fifty, it feels like that’s really the only thing that matters.

 

Farah Ahamed by Jenny SmithFarah Ahamedby Jenny Smith

I think it's fair to say that our hormones have affected us all at some time in our lives be it puberty, PMT, pregnancy or the menopause.  If that's you then check out my podcast, Dear Hormones, hopefully it'll make you smile. You can listen to it here.
 


40 OVER 40 Emma Kennedy

April 01, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

40 0ver 40 logo  copy 240 0ver 40 logo copy 2

 

#15

Emma Kennedy

Author and Screenwriter

Emma Kennedy by Jenny SmithEmma Kennedyby Jenny Smith

 

Author and screen writer Emma Kennedy first came onto my radar many years ago when my sister suggested I read a book called The Tent The Bucket and Me. I couldn't put it down and have read it three times since. Each time I've ended up crying with laughter. It's a story of Emma's disastrous family camping trips growing up in the 70s and I can't recommend it enough.  She has of course written many books since, including a touching tribute to her mum after Emma found years worth of letters in the attic after she passed away. 

Recently Emma has joined an ever increasing list of women, myself included, talking openly and honestly about the menopause and has become a patron of Menopause Mandate, a group of women from all walks of life who are dedicated in revolutionising the help and support that women receive from both the medical world and wider society. Menopause Mandate is chaired by the formidable Mariella Frostrup and other patrons include the likes of Davina McCall, Gabby Logan, and Penny Lancaster to name but a few.

She's taken up LEGO in the last few years (as you do in your 50s) and has a dedicated LEGO den in the garden where she films her YouTube channel Relax With Bricks.  We got some great shots in there surrounded by her numerous builds!  I was especially taken with the Death Star which Emma has customised to include toilets, a creche, and an HR department. I love the way her brain works!

Thank you Emma for agreeing to take part in my 40 OVER 40 project, it was an absolute delight to photograph you.

 

 

Emma Kennedy by Jenny SmithEmma Kennedyby Jenny Smith

 

1. Can you tell us about your work with Menopause Mandate and how important that is to you.  Any significant menopausal moments you could share?

I became involved with MM after I went public about the raging heart palpitations and anxiety I had suddenly begun to experience. I was post menopausal - my peri menopause symptoms of hot flushes and night sweats were long gone so it didn’t even occur to me that the palpitations and anxiety had anything to do with menopause. I thought I was out of it. If anything I was a bit smug about it - I’d done it, it was over and I hadn’t needed HRT. After extensive heart investigations, my GP thought to try me on HRT and within 48 hours, the palpitations and anxiety had stopped. I was back to being me. It’s so important that women understand that you can have symptoms beyond peri menopause and that symptoms can make themselves known years after your last period. The work of MM is all about awareness and I’m proud to be a part of that. 

 

Emma Kennedy by Jenny SmithEmma Kennedyby Jenny Smith

 

2. How did the lego obsession start and how has it helped you personally?

I never played with LEGO as a child. Then one Christmas, about five years ago, my then 7 year old nephew came to me with a LEGO set he’d been given and asked me to help him build it. As I did, something weird happened to my brain and I went into a state of extreme zen. My brain goes at a hundred miles an hour and afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I’d felt when I built the LEGO. But LEGO is for kids right? And I haven’t got any. But then I saw another author post a picture of a LEGO camper van she’d made. And I thought, oh, adults are allowed to build LEGO so I bought the same set and that was it. It was a gateway drug set. So I started posting super short films on Twitter of builds I was working on and someone asked me to start filming the build in their entirety so that’s when Relax With Bricks began. I love it. It’s such a lovely community of people. 

 

Emma Kennedy by Jenny SmithEmma Kennedyby Jenny Smith

 

3. This project celebrates women over 40 - any positive key moments for you since turning 40?

I think for me it was realising that I wasn’t that into acting but loved writing. Everyone should pursue a career in an area that brings them the most joy. Your job is probably the most important relationship with yourself that you will have in your lifetime. It’s the thing that provides self worth and purpose. So don’t waste your life in a job you hate. It’s never too late to change. 

 

Emma Kennedy by Jenny SmithEmma Kennedyby Jenny Smith

 

4. What advice would you give to your teenage self?

You’re gay. And don’t go out with Claudia. 

5. Have you ever come across any hurdles in your career that you can put down to being a woman? 

Yes. I was once told by a BBC radio producer to “shut up, you’re just the girl”. I’ve never forgotten it. 

 

Emma Kennedy by Jenny SmithEmma Kennedyby Jenny Smith

 

6. Any positive words of wisdom for girls about getting older?

Stop worrying about your weight and concentrate on being healthy and happy. You don’t need to do anything other than walking and weights. Eat plenty of fibre, balance carbs with healthy fats and veg and you can’t go wrong. Consume nuts. Do things you want to do. Go places you want to visit. Life is short. Enjoy it.

 

Emma Kennedy by Jenny SmithEmma Kennedyby Jenny Smit

I think it's fair to say that our hormones have affected us all at some time in our lives be it puberty, PMT, pregnancy or the menopause.  If that's you then check out my podcast, Dear Hormones, hopefully it'll make you smile. You can listen to it here.
 

Archive
January February March April May June July August September October (7) November (4) December (2)
January (2) February (1) March (2) April May June (1) July August September (2) October November December (3)
January February March April (1) May June July August (1) September October November December
January (1) February March April May June July August September October (1) November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September (1) October (2) November (2) December (2)
January February March (1) April May June (1) July (1) August September October (1) November (1) December (1)
January February March April May June July (1) August September (1) October November December
January February March April (1) May (1) June (2) July August September October November December