By Jess Williamson (@conceptoneartistry)
There are many versions of a woman.
Employed women, unemployed women.
Freckled women, tattooed women.
Women who drink wine imported from Tuscany, and women who drink goon from the clothes line.
Women who can make Jamie Oliver look like he’s auditioning for Junior Masterchef, and women who have to google how to boil an egg.
Women with mohawks, women sporting mullets, and women with some sort of braided, neon, Instagram Influencer-inspired shit going down.
Women who are gay, straight or bi (essential to sing to the tune of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way), and while my year one teacher would be absolutely loving the fact she was proficient in teaching me adjectives, I think you get the idea; there is no one woman the same.
A woman can be a combination of the above, none of the above, more of one on some days, and less on others.
Unlike the federal election that’s infiltrating every facet of our existence in the lead up to voting day, there isn’t a checkbox criteria for being a gal.
A woman, by definition, is simply a female person.
If that ‘female person’ has smaller boobs than their brother, it does not make them less of a woman.
If that ‘female person’ does FIFO, it does not make them less of a woman.
And whether that ‘female person’ is fertile or not does not make them less of a woman.
While yes, factually most women have bodies equipped with all the necessary bits to carry a child, some do not. Just like some can simultaneously articulate their spine and butt to successfully twerk, others can not.
Unfortunately, women who find themselves living with chronic reproductive conditions and subsequently the inability to bear children, also live with this irrational feeling that they have failed; as a woman, as a mother and as a partner.
I know this because this is how I felt when I was diagnosed with PCOS.
Approximately 1 in 10 women suffer from reproductive issues like PCOS or endometriosis. To put that in perspective, that’s roughly 10% of the female population worldwide.
It is common for this minority to feel isolated, seeing as the remaining 90% of the population have well-behaved uteruses and/or ovaries, with sufferers often feeling too ashamed to open up in fear of rejection and judgement.
*Dramatic music change*
Our ability to connect with women all over the world via social media has been the leading game changer in starting conversations surrounding taboo topics like women’s health. Gone are the days where the simple mention of the word ‘period’ would send people cross eyed, we are now openly talking about our heavy flows and wide set vaginas.
Facebook and Instagram in particular have become valuable platforms for not only the invention of memes, but normalising indifference; congregating support networks and speaking out to let others know they are not alone.
One person sharing their story is enough to inspire someone else to share theirs, and enough to make one girl feel like they’re worthy, not broken.
So, this is me, starting one more conversation and advocating for women’s health awareness.
The more we talk about it, the more we can work towards erasing the outdated stigma that a women’s success comes from their ability to reproduce.
From this movement, we can hope women of the future don’t have to experience the same feelings of isolation and despair served steaming hot alongside the physical pain ya girly bits are already inflicting.
Now, go find a mirror and repeat after me: I am more than my illness. I am a woman and I am goddamn beautiful just the way I am.