Hello, I’m Bertie. This column is basically a place for me to call bullshit on girl related stuff that I think is dumb. While I appreciate the importance of girl talk, I’m not about to braid your pubic hair or send you the results of my latest smear test. Instead, I will pass on any remotely useful knowledge I happen to discover re: being a FEMALE. Trust me: I’m not a doctor, but I do have a Ph.D in pretty girl bullshit.
PRETTY GIRL BULLSHIT #9: THE PILL MYTH
OK, this PGB might provoke some pretty intense reactions, so I’ll start by saying it is in no way intended to dictate what I think is correct for anyone. With regards to the birth control pill, every body (uh, literally) reacts totally differently, and this piece is just a snapshot of my experiences. I think it’s time someone called bullshit on all the myths surrounding the contraceptive pill, bad and good. So this is my paltry effort. PLZ don’t lynch me.
I was put on the pill by a sweaty, bored woman in a sexual health clinic when I was 16. At the time I was so totally thrilled, I was all like, “Ooh, what just fell out of my grownup handbag? Oh! SOOOOORRY! It was my PACKET OF BIRTH CONTROL PILLS!” And shit. But in hindsight, it was kind of unnecessary. The thing is, I was so, freaking, young. I still feel awkward putting my PIN in at Sainsbury’s, so I must have been a nervous wreck walking into that clinic.
Why they thought they should pump my body full of even more hormones, I couldn’t tell you. As much as this interview with Dr. Womb Expert in TIME magazine will convince you it’s miraculous, sometimes putting young girls on daily medication just genuinely isn’t the best solution. I stayed on the pill for two years or something mad, and despite it having "no side-effects" according to my doctor, everyone noticed when I came off it. Like, everyone. One girl’s exact words were, “Wow, you’re totally not a bitch any more, what happened?” But wait, surely the miracle pill couldn’t have been responsible for my 24-month hysteria. Could it? Well, um... Yeah, it could. How was I supposed to know that the name on the packet thrust into a paper bag by an embarrassed trainee would dictate my mood/ breast size/ appetite for a sizeable chunk of my teenage years?
According to Dr. Womb, the pill can cure acne, relieve menstrual cramps and prevent cancer whilst having no physical side-effects whatsoever! Wow! MIRACULOUS. What about the whole I gained three cup sizes thing? Well, Dr. Ims Ovary-Clever reckons that women put on weight when they go on the pill because their lifestyles change drastically during relationships. That’s interesting, but I don’t see why my humble breasts would blossom into, well, a modest bosom because I was dating some questionable bass player who used to spend hours in the bathroom calling his other girlfriends. I’m not a comfort eater, Dr. BB; I should have been losing weight drastically.
The psychological effects of taking pills daily regardless of whether they put a fake baby in your tumtum every month are super-interesting, too. Being highly susceptible to placebos probably doesn’t help: the last time I tried to go on the pill I took one and tripped for about three hours. Kind of fun. Kind of really disturbing. Anyway whatever, obviously the pill is super-important and seminal to female sexual empowerment. I just don’t think people are honest enough about certain motivations and side-effects that go with it. So here is one girl’s REAL LIFE experiences and opinions, to even up the balance. Jesus, I’m like a fucking agony aunt.
Pretty Girl Asks: At what age did you start taking the pill, and why?
Pretty Girl Says: 15. Is this anonymous? Because um, I was spotty and awkward and I heard that it made you get good skin. I wanted to feel like a grownup. I was a virgin. That’s why I liked it. When you say you’re on it you don’t have to admit you’re a virgin. I kept my virginity secret for ages 'cos everyone assumed I was a total sex pro 'cos I was on the pill.
Clearasil and tampons would have probably sufficed. Am I right?
My mum and my sister were both on it so it made me feel like I was part of their grownup world. It was about not being a kid any more. Like I said, I was a virgin. It was nothing to do with contraception.
Did you notice an increase in appetite/ weight/ insanity?
Well because I was 15 I was a size 25 waist and had no boobs. I actually don’t know if I had a real puberty because after I took the pill I suddenly developed all those things. Was it puberty or was it the pill? But yeah, I got boobs and a bum almost immediately after I went on it.
That’s kind of really sad/ futuristic, like Wall-E:2 The Puberty Adventure. Aw. Anyway. According to TIME those side-effects were to do with being in a relationship, not the pill, though I’m pretty sure you mentioned you were single and a virgin… But whatever! Why did you decide to stop taking it?
I think just having conversations with girls who weren’t on it made me realise it shouldn’t be second nature to all women. At school it was really ‘cool’ but when you leave, the cool factor decreases. I got kind of worried about all the junk in my system that I didn’t understand. I started to feel very unstable, weight all up and down, probably because I had started over-analysing the side-effects. And no, I haven’t got crazy acne and no, I haven’t lost loads of weight, but I feel more like "myself", which is weird because loads of girls have said that exact same thing. My boobs have gone down a cup size, which is a bit depressing, though.
Well there you have it. The pill will give you breasts, and/ or possibly rob you of your childhood. Hmm. Sounds a bit like this guy. If you’re 15 and considering popping Microgynon every day for the rest of your teenage years in order to feel grown-up, I would implore you to reconsider. There are loads of other ways to feel grown-up, like driving uninsured cars, or drinking wine not to get drunk (psyche! No-one really does that). On the other hand, if you’re having loads of unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t have any STDs then gulp down those hormones. Just remember, your asshole boyfriend refusing to use condoms should not force you onto the pill. It should force you to knee-cap that motherfucker.
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @BertieBrandes