“I think it’s the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work.”
Michelle Obama, in an interview to promote her strikingly revealing new memoir.
I have a long-standing girl crush on Obama, but this confirmed her as my top living hero and life guru. I also immediately started a Christmas list with her book at the top, along with tickets to the Spice Girls reunion tour.
Michelle - as I’m sure I will call her when we become BFF’s - was talking about the biological clock and miscarriage (something I’ve experienced). However, that’s not the only part of our reproductive lives women feel shy about sharing. I’m now on the approach road to (whisper it) the menopause (Edvard Munch ‘Scream’ face/ lightning/ thunder crash), and that really is taboo in polite company.
It does strike me as strange that as women we often pride ourselves on our emotional intelligence and our communication skills. We are also stereotyped as chatterboxes, over-sharers, having ‘more rabbit than Sainsbury’s.’ Yet we are often unable to articulate what is happening to our bodies – sometimes even to close friends.
In the workplace I feel this stems from years of feeling that any physical weakness that can be linked to our sex – period pain, pregnancy, breast feeding – is going to be used against us in the competitive race for promotion. Am I the only person who’s had a female boss who seems like an automaton, totally impervious to the usual vagaries of the female body? Let’s not just hear it from the girls – let’s hear it about the girls: let’s have the courage to speak up and open the door for others to do the same. That would be real Girl Power.
A postscript: on finishing reading the Obama interview, I immediately tried to Google her speaking dates in the UK, only to find there was only one – and that a mere 35,000 other people were in the digital queue ahead of me. This was bad news for me, but brilliant news in every other way. And anyway, perhaps I shall have better luck with the Spice Girls.