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Taboo-busting women we want to be best friends with

HELLO! shines the spotlight on three women working hard to erase the stigma around 'taboo' subjects  

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January 26, 2024
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From perimenopause to periods, pelvic floor to postnatal depression, there are too many issues affecting women that are still considered taboo.

Here at HELLO! we're working hard to destigmatise these topics and talking openly about them is the first step. By discussing these subjects without shame, we can contribute to normalising the conversation around them and hopefully help people feel more comfortable.

Through our work bringing these topics into the light, we've met and spoken to some truly fascinating women, working hard to bust taboos around periods, intimate health and pelvic floor. Read on for their stories.

Nesse Cannon: Busting the taboo around pelvic floor issues

Nesse Cannon in blue leggings smiling
Nesse Cannon

Nesse is the founder of Barre studio BarreFly London, but she's so much more than your average fitness instructor.

The no-nonsense fitness guru has created a safe space in her studio, where women can rest assured that if they're dealing with pelvic floor issues, it's totally normal and they’re not alone.

Pelvic floor concerns often stand in the way of women wanting to exercise, but Nesse ensures that it's not a barrier for her clients. "I mention pelvic floor in every move of my class to create normality," Nesse tells HELLO! "It's a normal part of human life but we're made to feel gross and ashamed. But the more we talk about it, the less taboo it becomes."

Nesse's studio is a judgement-free zone, which creates an environment for women, in all their forms, to come and truly be themselves, and she's leading the way when it comes to inclusivity in exercise.

 Dr. Hedieh Asadi: Busting the taboo around intimate hygiene

 Dr. Hedieh Asadi in lab coat
Dr. Hedieh Asadi

 Dr. Hedieh Asadi founded ultra-chic intimate health brand DeoDoc. The brand offers intimate wash, wipes, shaving foam and deodorant, all in pretty packaging that you want on display – and that's just the first way that Dr. Hedieh is helping to dispel shame around intimate hygiene.

She points out that a lack of understanding of female anatomy is to blame for the taboo around intimate health, and the better educated we are on our anatomy, the less of a taboo it will become.

READ: Why we really need to talk about vaginal health 

"It's a cocktail of misconception and lack of knowledge that makes intimate hygiene a taboo," she says. "There's a huge lack of knowledge of female anatomy. We lack the knowledge and the words to even describe the female anatomy correctly, so it adds to the stigma and the taboo.

"I don't want to see another generation of women growing up not knowing about their own female anatomy and their health."

Dr. Hedieh explains that our vulva has the same sweat glands as our armpits, so it's normal for the area to smell, which is the biggest concern for most of her clients.

By creating products to tackle this, DeoDoc hope that people will feel more comfortable talking about it, knowing they're not alone. "Intimate care should be self-care," Dr. Hedieh says. "Because it doesn't matter how good your hair looks, if you're uncomfortable down there, you'll never feel good."

READ: Why are women expected to stop having fun in our thirties? 

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh: Busting the menstrual taboos

Sophie smiling in silk shirt holding sanitary pads© Getty
Duchess Sophie is willing to speak openly about periods

Duchess Sophie is a trailblazer in the royal family, openly talking about her own experience with menopause as well as shining the spotlight on periods this week.

Breaking the taboo around menstrual health issues, Sophie, 59, joined a myth-busting workshop at Harris Girls Academy this week, speaking openly on a topic often avoided.

When asked what comes to mind when talking about periods, the Duchess candidly said: "When you have heavy periods worrying about when you stand up from a chair. That's the worst one."

Duchess of Edinburgh wearing black blazer and blue shirt© Getty
Sophie is trying to break taboos around menstrual awareness

She added that period products should be on display at home rather than locked in a cupboard, saying: "Let’s get them out of the closet."

"When a high-profile figure, such as a member of the royal family, speaks out on a 'taboo' subject, it makes headlines or is given widespread coverage, bringing it to the forefront of the public's minds," says HELLO!'s royal reporter Danielle Stacey, when we asked her why it's so important for the royals to speak out on taboo topics.

"If someone like the Duchess of Edinburgh can be so open about talking about menstrual issues and the menopause, then it may open up more conversations between family, friends, colleagues or be a talking point in schools and universities.

"It's incredible that the royal family are speaking out on issues that have a perceived stigma around them because it can help raise awareness."

Here's to more women speaking openly about taboos!

Visit HELLO!'s Out Loud hub for more inspiring, stigma-erasing stories.

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