January 22nd 2019
Sex & Gynae
Caroline Hirons: “I’m desperate to change how we talk about our bodies”
May 17th 2018 / 0 comment
The skincare legend on why she’s championing The Eve Appeal Get Lippy campaign, how a smear test could’ve made all the difference to her grandma and why it’s time we all got comfortable with talking about all things gynaecological
We’re not shy about discussing vaginas, vulvas, discharge or periods around here, and according to expert facialist, blogger and the queen of frank chat Caroline Hirons, the more open gynaecological discourse, the better, because, quite simply, it saves lives.
Hirons is a spokesperson for gynacological cancer charity The Eve Appeal, and alongside the likes of Cherry Healey, Michelle Heaton and media GP Dr Ellie Cannon, she’s intent on not only starting conversations around the topic of gynaecological health, but quite literally not fannying around when discussing our anatomy or feeling ashamed of our own bodies:
“I’m desperate to change the ways in which we talk about our bodies as women, and be less embarrassed and more open. I have a 16 year old daughter and it’s vitally important to me that her generation grows up embracing themselves rather than hiding.”
From the hymen myth to a lack of effective education around both women’s health and simple anatomy (according to the Eve Appeal we’re far better at labelling and identifying male anatomy than our own- go figure), the need to articulate our own biology, and understand how it works, is pressing, as Hirons explains:
“Throughout May the big thing I’ll be getting lippy about is talking in general about gynaecological cancers; there are five of them yet most women can’t name them.”
As such, The Eve Appeal’s Get Lippy campaign will focus on breaking down taboos around women’s gynaecological health, shattering stigma around using simple anatomical terms and spreading the word about symptoms such as irregular bleeding, unusual discharge and the fundamental importance of attending cervical screening. The latter emphasis is particularly poignant for Caroline:
“Gynaecological cancers are extremely important to me and my family because when I was 16 we lost my grandmother. She died of cervical cancer because she was of that generation that was too embarrassed to go for her smear test, and it was that simple. We are all certainly advocates for smear tests, and if she’d gone for her smear test, she may have met her great-grandchildren.”
Caroline’s experience sadly isn’t an isolated one: according to The Eve Appeal, everyday in the UK, 58 women are diagnosed with one of the five forms of gynaecological cancer; womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal, with gynaecological cancers affecting more than 21,000 women and their families each year. Despite this, a third of women don’t see their own gynaecological health issues as being serious enough to warrant visiting their GP or doctor’s surgery, and nearly a fifth of women would wait four weeks or more before visiting a health professional about irregular vaginal bleeding. From puberty to the menopause and at every stage in between (over 41% of women under 35 believe they are too young to develop a gynaecological cancer), awareness around our intimate health needs to be far more widespread, and May’s Get Lippy focus looks set to spark open conversations as well as raise crucial funding for women and their families suffering with gynaecological cancers.
The Eve Appeal has teamed up with CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women UK) and some of the world’s leading beauty brands to encourage women (and men for that matter) to buy a lipstick, lip gloss or lip balm from a participating company, posting their #getlippy shot on their social media feeds to not only generate conversation and awareness around women-specific illness, but from each product sold, £1, or 10% of retail value, will be donated to The Eve Appeal, accelerating pioneering research. Partners include Smashbox, Hourglass, Lipstick Queen, Vaseline and a roster of brands stocked everywhere from Tesco to Harvey Nichols, and to further support the cause, you can text LIPPY to 70660 to donate £3. The Eve Appeal will also be hosting a ‘Get Lippy Day at Work’ on 25th May, so encourage colleagues to buy a slick new lipstick for a much-needed cause, post a #GetLippy group selfie (like The Oscars, but philanthropic) or simply donate what they can.
As Caroline highlights, us beauty nuts are an open and giving people, so the success of the campaign has no bounds:
“The beauty industry, in particular, has championed the breast cancer movement, in an amazing way, but for me, I think it’s time to champion gynaecological cancers in the same way, and gave it the same attention.”
Here’s to frank talking, fresh thinking and fundraising, looking damn good while we do it.
Visit The Eve Appeal website to find out more about the Get Lippy campaign, gynaecological cancers, the charity’s research and support programme and how you can help