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Michelle Obama's advice on female friendship is really worth considering

There exist many misconceptions around female friendship.

THERE EXIST MANY misconceptions around female friendship, and one of them is that we routinely discuss our menstrual cycle, contraceptive plans and fertility issues with one another as standard.

period Source: Shutterstock

Of course, the vast majority of women will have touched on these subjects, but it’s fair to say that most of us discuss it in a relatively abstract manner.

In other words, it’s highly unlikely you keep up to date with the ins and outs of your friends’ experiences and concerns on that front, because the vast majority of us tend to keep it between ourselves and our partner, or medical practitioner.

As teenagers you’re likely to divulge every last detail or seek reassurance at the drop of a hat, but in your 20s and 30s, many of us tend to disclose less information for a variety of reasons, and in recent years, I have been reminded more and more of this shift in attitude.

How many of us can say with confidence we know that none of our friends have had a miscarriage? How many of us can say for certain that none of our friends have encountered fertility issues? And how many of us know whether our friend’s contraceptive plan is having a negative impact on her daily life?

I would wager very few of us could assert any with complete confidence.

Whether it’s been a conscious effort on our part, a discretion born of age, or concern over confirming a fear you may be harbouring, there exists a reticence, and the idea that women discuss these issues at the drop of a hat isn’t indicative of my experience, at the very least.

Yes ostensibly, they’re personal issues, and yet, there is so much to be said for sharing stories and articulating your lived experience when it comes to these matters – something former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, discussed this week.


In an in-depth interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Michelle reflected on the sense of isolation she felt after suffering a miscarriage.

I felt lost and alone and I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about them.

“We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broke,” she added.

Michelle is keen for young women to avoid the sense of isolation she endured by encouraging them to make a concerted effort to discuss reproduction and fertility with the women in their lives.

Reflecting on her journey to motherhood, Michelle explained:

That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen and the biological clock is real because egg production is limited and I realized that as I was 34 and 35. We had to do IVF.

Acknowledging the impact this reticence to share had on her at certain points in her life, she said:

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 and how they don’t work.

Yes, it’s not always an easy subject to broach and respecting boundaries is absolutely  paramount, but there’s a lot to be said for, at least, testing the waters on the notion that women tell each other everything.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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