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‘We don’t have to put up with this’: a candid conversation about the bodies

Mara: I’m so glad you went!

Luce: I had to in part because, you know, it‘s so, so, so desperately lonely when you think you’re the only one getting wet. I was scared of my own room and didn’t know where to go with it.

Mara: The stigma surrounding these issues is so strong, but really not that surprising when you learn, for example, that “pudenda”, the Latin word for female genitalia, literally means “to be ashamed”.

Luce: Yes! The stigma runs very deep. We can see it in medical history. I found references to middle aged women in the Middle Ages getting mad in a pub and it was the same kind of shameful joke we get now.

Mara: Yeah, and when you look back at douching, for example, it was originally a (dull) contraceptive, but it turned into a way of making our crotch seem coarse and smelly ( we are mean women after all!) Smell the flowers.

Luce: But what’s kind of ignored about stacking shame is that there’s a real person under the broken body. A real, normal, upset, exhausted, tired, tired, funny, loving underneath, who just needs a break. And not to pee in his pants all the time.

Mara: I think the antidote is to talk about it, to tell our stories. Everything is so heavy when parts of our body – asymmetrical lips, scented crotch, hairy nipples – are meant to be kept a secret or even vilified. I had to trust that I wasn’t that original, that out of billions of women, I couldn’t be the only one feeling these things about my body or having thoughts like, “Who’s going to pluck my hair?” chin if I’m ever in a coma? And luckily, the # 1 response I got from readers of my book is, “I’m feeling normal for the first time in my life.”

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