This week, Angelina Jolie made the headlines for her positive thoughts on having menopause early as a result of her preemptive cancer surgeries. Hitting menopause isn’t something any woman looks forward to (don’t talk about the hot flashes) but Jolie, who has just hit 40, said she embraced the change. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the actress said, “I actually love being in menopause. I haven’t had a terrible reaction to it, so I’m very fortunate. I feel older, and I feel settled being older. I feel happy that I’ve grown up. I don’t want to be young again.”
While this is a refreshing attitude to have, another actress has opened up about struggling to cope with her body’s drastic change much earlier than expected, Grey’s Anatomy star, Kate Walsh.
She revealed her storyline on the series and her spin-off Private Practice hit too close to home. While Addison Montgomery had trouble conceiving children on the ABC medical dramas, Walsh bravely opened up about her own struggles to get pregnant. The actress divulged that, like Jolie-Pitt, she too has gone through early menopause, but her onset of the condition meant she was unable to have children.
“I don’t know if you can have it all. I think that is an American myth. I wouldn’t call it a dream. I think it’s a bit of a myth in that it’s this huge pressure on women.”
The actress, now 48, divulged this on a radio show this week. “I don’t have children. I’m not going to have kids. I went through early menopause. That happened,” Walsh said.
She explained that she went to get a check-up after her sister went through the same thing, and she said that it was a hard thing to digest, along with the pressure she felt for seemingly not having the “All-American Dream.”
“It was bleak,” she said of her diagnosis. “I don’t know if you can have it all. I think that is an American myth. I wouldn’t call it a dream,” she added. “I think it’s a bit of a myth in that it’s this huge pressure. We’re like, ‘Wait a minute, am I less than if I’m not a mother? If I’m not a rock star in my career?’ I don’t know. This is what I ponder.” She also said that she “felt like a loser” for not having children.
She added that she always imagined she’d “be married and have three or four kids.”
Walsh is speaking the truth. There is massive pressure on women to “have it all” these days – successful career, perfectly balanced with a hectic family life rearing children – and the fact that she even mentioned feeling lesser for not having a child reiterates how our society can unjustly label those in the same position: if you’re a woman and childless, more often than not, it can sadly be seen as an oddity. And it shouldn’t be. You should simply be able to make your choice (and having a child is a gargantuan decision to make) without the fear of feeling, as Walsh does, like you have drastically deviated from “the norm.” You haven’t. What’s normal should simply be, whatever is right for you.
Fellow actress and all-around-legend Helen Mirren is frequently asked in many an interview about her decision not to have children, and once said she was “baffled” that it could cause such a stir. “Not having any [children] is my contribution to society,” she once said.
However, Walsh is positive that speaking out should raise awareness to help women going through similar issues. “Going through early menopause is becoming more and more common for women.”
Ending on an uplifting note, she said that she has come out the other side. “[Early menopause] was a great kind of experience and growth,” she continued. “I’ve always felt I’ve been, at times in my life, indecisive or have hard times making decisions. I go for what I want, and I also embrace what’s in front of me.”