‘You’re not alone in your pain’: Singer Jessie J reveals she can’t have children in moving speech
Infertility used to be something that was whispered about. Surprising, given that a reported one in every six couples in Ireland are affected by it. In 2018, it certainly comes up as more than a whisper, but it’s still often referred to as a ‘taboo’ subject. It’s akin to an elephant in a room; everyone knows it’s there yet no one quite wants to mention it aloud. Some research into the topic and I’m hit with a barrage of phrases, such as ‘I told no one about it’ or ‘we felt so alone.’ A friend of mine who was told devastating news about her fertility levels before she even turned thirty revealed that even in the depths of her heartbreak, she felt there was hardly anyone she could turn to for a true emphatic ear.
When it comes to the emotionally tough issues, it’s often an ordeal even attempting to try to normalise the conversation. Partly because we hear so few stories from those that run into difficulties. And mostly because as women, we grow up knowing that the expectant norm is for us to bear children. The feelings of guilt, of failure, should that not happen for us can be overwhelming in its grief; too much to talk about. That’s where public figures can make an impact – using their platforms to unite for the greater good.
That’s why today, I looked at singer Jessie J with fresh eyes as she very publically spoke of a private pain. Most headlines gleefully pronounced the news that she was dating Magic Mike star Channing Tatum, but she revealed something that would strike a chord with many women. The 30-year-old announced, during a concert this week that four years ago, when she was just 26-years-old, she was told she would never be able to have children. At twenty-six. I barely worried about tomorrow at that age, let alone the life-altering prospect of whether or not I would be able to conceive children.
Before performing the song, Four Letter Word, from her latest album, Jessie told the audience in the Royal Albert Hall in London that she wanted to share her heartbreak, not for sympathy, but to let other women know they weren’t alone. “I was told four years ago that I can’t ever have children,” she said.
“I don’t tell you guys for sympathy because I’m one of millions of women and men that have gone through this and will go through this.”
She spoke of not wanting to be defined by the fact, and also of wanting to use her artistry to help comfort fellow women in the same situation. “It can’t be something that defines us, but I wanted to write this song for myself in my moment of pain and sadness but also to give myself joy, to give other people something that they can listen to in that moment when it gets really hard.
“So if you’ve ever experienced anything with this or have seen somebody else go through it or have lost a child, then please know you’re not alone in your pain, and I’m thinking of you.”
We so quickly forget that no one in the public eye owes us anything; they don’t have to share their pain amongst all the glitz and glamour. But with women like Michelle Obama even coming forward to do the same, it does provide us with something potent. The reassurance that we’re not alone. In the darkest of times that will always remain a comfort.