What is the cost of a woman? How can you add up all the lost hours, days, nights, weeks and years of emotional guilt, grief, pain and putting yourself at the bottom of the list?
Let’s start with the monetary value of woman, did you know one in ten teenage girls have been unable to afford sanitary products in the UK? Every period costs the average UK woman £11 in sanitary wear, that’s excluding going down the eco route of period pants, moon cups and reusable pads, which have a far higher outlay but in the long run work out more financially viable and obviously planet friendly, in peri menopause periods are likely to become more frequent, so costs can escalate. Scotland made history in November 2020 announcing that it would make period products free to anyone who needs them and New Zealand announced earlier this year that free menstrual products will be available in all schools, not one to jump to conclusions here but both Scotland and New Zealand have female leaders. Coincidence? I think not.
Women taking the combined contraceptive pill on average 10 out of 10,000 will develop a blood clot, and while we’re talking about contraceptives why is the woman usually in charge of contraception when a woman can only get pregnant every 9 months and a man can impregnate a woman every day for that 9 months causing 270 births? Can you see this is all a little off balance? There was a chart doing the social media rounds that a man could impregnate a woman 9 times every day in the 9 months of pregnancy, bringing about potentially 2,430 pregnancies but being realistic, 9 times a day….really?
While I’m sat here getting myself wild about all of this let’s chuck something else into the mix, menopause! Not every woman will give birth but every woman will experience menopause to some degree, menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, a 2019 survey by BUPA found that 900,000 women left their jobs over an undefined period of time due to menopausal symptoms, women are leaving their jobs when they are the peak of their careers, making the workforce less diverse and male heavy and women are missing out on promotions and the top jobs that they’ve worked so long and hard for. Dr Louise Newson (The Menopause Doctor) surveyed 5,000 peri and menopausal women showing that 12% of women had to wait 5+ years to be given hormone treatment and to be diagnosed with menopause symptoms, 27% had seen more than 3 doctors in this time and only 1 in 10 women take HRT due to an outdated and unrealistic study still used by GP’s. Thanks to Carolyn Harris MP menopause education for medical professionals is being rolled out, and there will be a one off payment for HRT in the UK, although if you are lucky enough to live in, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales HRT is free on prescription.
Bodies, beautiful imperfectly perfect bodies, the media says only a certain body type is acceptable. The average woman is a size 16, so why don’t we see more curves, cellulite and real body type mannequins in stores? When we go shopping why is a size 16 classed as large, when in fact it is the norm and should be a medium? There is 1 death every 52 minutes worldwide from an eating disorder, that’s male and female, we know all too well that images of so called plus sized women (size 16??) are more likely to be reported on social media and their images removed for being scantily clad than those of a size 6, why is this still happening in 2021?
British women spend £10 billion annually on cosmetics and hair products and the market is growing, even our razors are around 11% more expensive than a man’s razor! Anti-wrinkle, anti-ageing, plumping, firming, glow skin, youth enhancing, age defying, regenerating ….the list goes on and on and the spending adds up. Marketing companies hit our weak spot when we’re over forty, we feel tired and ageing, our eyes droop, our skin sags. But do you know what the over forties have that youth does not? Life, we have so much life and experiences our faces and every damn wrinkle, sag and eye bag have their unique story, they are our beautiful flaws that we should embrace (maybe add a little cream here and there). Next time you see an advert for an age defying cream consider the dictionary term for defy; resist or refuse to obey. Please don’t refuse to age, it’s gift not given to everyone.
The hours we spend working all day, to come home in the evening to cook, clean the house, shower, carry the guilt we’re not doing enough, pushing ourselves to exceed expectations, then start all over again the next day can be excessive and exhausting, our bodies pay a high price, our menstrual products are costly, media expectations are high and are emotionally damaging when we don’t look the way they say we should, so yes we are expensive. We pay a high price not just from the money we spend but physically and emotionally to try and be what is expected of us. But it’s time to stop, ease up, stick the middle finger up to anyone who says you’re not enough, and it’s time to be the most beautiful and wonderful woman you are, a priceless commodity, the imperfectly perfect you.