As a mum of a four-year-old who is increasingly becoming more aware of the world around her, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about helping her navigate the path from here. She tells me that when she grows up, she wants to teach mermaids how to swim … or maybe be a Mummy. She tells me when she’s older, she wants to marry a boy in her pre-school class but also the girl she’s “best friends” with. I explain to her that mermaids aren’t real, but she can be a teacher if she likes. I explain that while she can marry a girl – of course she can marry a girl – she doesn’t need to marry her best friend… they can be best friends and she can marry someone else who she really loves.
I also explain that she can’t tell fibs and that it’s not nice to bark “MORE” when she’d like me to share some more of my chips with her. There are lots of things I’m trying to guide her on. One big thing is her attitude towards her body. I’m so careful never to say that fat is bad, thin is good. I tell her I go to the gym because exercise is healthy, not because I want to lose weight. When she asks me about why Mummy has blood on the toilet tissue, I’m really aware that I need to be honest and tell her that grown up women have periods once a month.
I want her to be confident and comfortable in her own skin, as she gets older, and able to talk about body and health issues, no matter how embarrassing.
It sounds crazy but in a recent survey, 47% of women asked admitted they were too embarrassed to talk to friends and family, and nearly one third (31%) have never spoken to their GP about an intimate health problem. The survey by Vagisil saw 2,000 British women asked about their attitudes and embarrassment towards their intimate health.
Dr Rebecca Spelman, Registered Psychologist, Private Therapy Clinic, comments: ‘The fact is that we live in a culture that has long affiliated sex and, by association, our reproductive organs, with shamefulness and ‘sin’. As a result, we often find it hard to think about these parts of our body without the oppressive burden of centuries of thinking about these negative attributes. Women in particular tend not to want to speak about their intimate health, even with their healthcare provider or pharmacist. As a result, painful or uncomfortable health conditions – which are usually relatively minor and can clear up quickly with the right treatment – are often left for way too long.”
This worries me – are we going to pass on our issues with our bodies, to our children? Interestingly, 40% of those asked said that experiencing childbirth had made them less embarrassed about talking about their intimate health issues (I hear you – after you’ve had a team of people rummage around up there, nothing will make you feel embarrassed). Furthermore, two-thirds of women (66%) say they have grown more open to talk about these problems as they have gotten older – in fact the average age when women begin to feel less embarrassed talking about intimate health issues is 34. So perhaps by the time we have had a baby and then hit our mid thirties, we’ve all chilled out a bit about our body.
What do you think – are you shy about talking to your family, friends or GP about an intimate health issue? Let’s #EndEmbarrassment.
This post was sponsored by Vagisil – to find out how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page. Image: DTTSP