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My Menopause Diary: Kimara Mitchell

Woman in corner sitting on chair.

Having a community is key to navigating this journey feeling backed and buoyed, so Phenology asked amazing women who weren’t born yesterday to share their meno MO.

"Everyone is on a different journey and timing, and I remind myself that my path is my own."

Kimara Mitchell loves to make women feel fabulous, which she does daily through her two fashion-forward roles: Her job as Creative Director for Quay Australia, where she’s behind the design of chic-yet-wearable sunglasses, and as creator and author of j'adore couture, a lifestyle destination for women with a shared reverence for unique personal style. Built to chronicle her own, and others’, inspiring looks, plus cover broader issues in the fashion world, the site’s content embodies the 51-year-old’s point of view that women should wear whatever they want boldy, no matter their age or body type. For Kimara, this is a time for growth and exploration, and for passing along lessons learned, which she does by mentoring women of color in creative fields. The quote she lives by: Everything you need is already inside — Bill Bowerman, former University of Oregon track coach and co-founder of Nike. Here, how she follows that truth. When did you first realize you were hitting menopause? I suffered from fibroids for many years. I underwent a myomectomy to remove them but they just grew back, and grew back larger. As I was getting older and knew I wasn’t going to have children, my gynecologist suggested I have a hysterectomy. I was able to keep an ovary so that I wouldn’t go into menopause, but it happened anyway. The hot flashes were the first symptom (and really the only one), and I immediately thought, this is it. Best wellness habit you’ve picked up at this age?A 5-minute Journal. I had a journal all through high school, college, and after college, but an old boyfriend found them and read them, and I threw them all away (I so wish I still had them!) I really like how simple this is, and the prompts it gives you. I don’t have to write a long story, just short, stream of consciousness thoughts. Talk to us about confidence now vs the before timesThere are certain things I just don’t give a F about. One of them is what people have to say about my style. I believe in wearing what you want and owning it. I still wear pieces with cutouts, or miniskirts, or high heels. I used to be concerned with fitting in, and feeling self-conscious about being thin. I am gaining more confidence when it comes to my voice and speaking about my experiences as a Black woman, whether that’s in society, in my relationships, or in the workplace. I grew up in a time when I was told to blend in, don’t be too loud, you’ll have to work twice as much to get half as far. I didn’t know any women like myself doing what I’m doing. So now that I’m here, it’s important to connect with people about those experiences, the good and the bad. How are you kind to yourself?With the above being said, I can be hard on myself, and feel like I should have accomplished so much more by my age. Everyone is on a different journey and timing, and I remind myself that my path is my own. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the struggles, setbacks, and loss that I experienced (I lost my husband five years ago), and it’s ok to have a moment of sadness about that, but then lean into the strength I’ve gained because of it.

Woman sitting on glass bench; city backdrop.

If you could create a neon sign about aging, it’d say….“Just roll with it.” People put so much pressure on aging, how you look, your hair, fashion choices. Do what works for you, and then be confident in owning it. I decided to shave my head, and at first, I would wear a hat just about every time I left the house, and I didn’t feel confident without hair. Now I think “who cares?” I love it, and that’s all that matters. It also gives me a great canvas for a fabulous pair of earrings or beauty look. What’s your bedtime routine?Evening is when I do my longer skincare routine, so cleansing, serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and lip mask. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom, which has helped me sleep so much better. I also utilize the wind down function on my phone, so it turns off alerts and dims slightly. I finish the day with writing in my journal and reading. Right now, it’s Vanderbilt, by Anderson Cooper. How do you maximize your morning?Three things help me feel more productive in the morning. FIrst is working out; if the weather isn’t terrible, I’ll go on a run. Otherwise, I’ll do a workout from my laptop or phone (I like the Nike Training app). Then I have to have breakfast, which is something instilled in me from my mom and grandmother. It’s usually something simple, like eggs, smoked salmon, oatmeal, or cereal, but enough to give me energy post-workout and through the morning. Finally, I’ll check my calendar or to-do list, usually while I’m having breakfast. And tea…I’ve never had coffee! Skincare: what’s working for you right now? Over the last five years, I’ve edited down my skincare routine and really focused on clean options. My favorite products are from Biossance or Herbivore Botanicals. The major shift has been wearing less makeup and letting my skin breathe; I feel it’s led to fewer breakouts. Other beauty secrets please!When it comes to beauty, I’m pretty minimal. Even though I have a lot of products, I tend to use the same ones religiously. Brows are a must every day, and mascara. If I have a major presentation or going to dinner, I’ll do more of a look. Usually it’s a bronze metallic eye with black liner, a bright pop blush, and a neutral lip. For every day, I love the products from Merit Beauty, which is women-founded and all clean. As a woman who wasn’t born yesterday, what’s your best girlfriend advice?Your friends are going to go through different seasons, and it may not be all at the same time. I have married friends, friends with and without kids, ones that have moved away, ones who are thriving in their careers, and others who are just now entering into long-term relationships. It’s not easy to stay in touch or prioritize each other, but definitely do both. And maximize the different connection and experience you have with each.

Kimara Mitchell’s Menopause kitYoga mat. I've been doing pilates at home during COVID; I really like Melissa WoodHealth's quick but effective routines.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir Face Mist. I usually have this in my travel bag to refresh my skin after a long flight, but I'm also loving it as a mid-day pick me up since I'm working from home.

Milk Makeup Melatonin Overnight Lip Mask. my lips are very dry and it gets worse in the winter. I put this on religiously as part of my bedtime routine.

Good Side Silk Pillowcase and Sleep Mask. The silk is sustainably sourced, and comes in fun colors. They also give a percentage of proceeds to charity, like Women to Women International.

Nike Air Pegasus 38 running shoes. I've been running since I was 14. I've been a Nike devotee since the beginning, and the Air Pegasus is the perfect blend of lightweight and stable.

5 Minute Journal. A habit I picked up this year was journaling again. I like this because it's really focused.

Proenza Schouler Arizona fragrance. I'm quite picky when it comes to fragrance; I prefer something more unique and not overly feminine. It's got jasmine and white cactus flower with musk, and I always get compliments when I wear it.

Merit Beauty The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion Stick. The stick can be used as a foundation, concealer, contour. Just a few swipes, blend with my fingers, and I'm out the door.

New York City. I get the opportunity to go there often for work, and it's always so inspiring. I love checking out a new boutique or restaurant, and a museum is a must.

Jemele Hill is Unbothered podcast. I loved watching Hill during her time on ESPN, so of course I'm obsessed with her podcast. She talks to a mix of people from sports, current events, entertainment, and more, and she always keeps it real.

Isabel Burton
Isabel Burton is an award-winning writer, editor and content strategist. She’s held senior editorial positions at Shape, Self, and Cosmopolitan, among other titles. Her work has appeared in a slew of national media brands covering all things lifestyle: Beauty, wellness, home décor, food, drink, love, lust, travel and more.

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