She’s a mother, a Diet Coke lover, a TV presenter and the kind of woman whose endearingly grotty sense of humour and coat hanger smile can turn a room of strangers into a fan girl orgy. Cherry Healey, whose book Letters to my Fanny ditches the Disney princess blather in favour of a more honest approach to being, well, a woman is definitely no pussy
Why did you decide to write ‘Letters to my Fanny’? I wanted to write about being a woman – a real woman – not like the ones in the Disney films or magazines, but one that eats and jumps and isn’t graceful and likes nachos and sex.
Why fanny, not vagina?
Writing the book has made me think about what we call our ‘downstairs area’. I struggle with what to call it – vagina sounds like a std, fanny sounds too cute, cunt is too violent and pussy is for sex. I would never say ‘I’m off to get my pussy checked at the doctor’! I started to ask the question of why we don’t have a collectively comfortable word for such an important area. Boys have the word ‘dick’ which kind of covers all bases. I think we tend to avoid talking about ‘that area’ all together. I think my favourite is Love Tunnel.
Can you describe the moment you started writing the book
I wrote the first chapter sitting at the bar of a trendy establishment in Shoreditch. It just poured out of me. I thought ‘this is going to be easy’. And then it went downhill after that. My work started to get really busy and I had another child and some personal stuff happened and finding time, and mental space, to write was a real struggle. When I did find a quiet moment, I had to really fight not to distract myself with logistics or emailing. Oh, and Amazon. I had no idea how much discipline it takes. My publisher is extremely patient.
Fanny sits nicely between vagina and cunt – do you use the other two ever? If not why? If yes, in what circumstances?
I never use cunt because it’s so violent – I think it’s probably the strongest swear word we have – and vagina is just too sterile and sounds like an STD, pussy is definitely for sex. I tend to go for the jokey option as it breaks the ice. But why should I feel the need to break ice? Why is there ice?!?! I think it’s partly because boys grow up laughing and joking and sharing stories of their sexual function and experience whereas girls are more cautious to go into detail. We’ll talk about who we fancy but we’d never say ‘oh yeah they got me all wet’ (that was quite hard to write!) whereas I’ve heard guys laugh with each other that a girl has given them a semi – it’s fun, lighthearted, open. I wish girls could do that. We have so many bits to us – so many ways to enjoy sex – but most girls wouldn’t dream of going into a sex shop alone! I remember the first time I did it – I MADE myself do it – some people like base jumping, some like fast cars, I like to go into uncomfortable places! I really didn’t want people to see me go in – but what was I afraid of? That they would think I liked sex? That they would think I was… what? For such a sexually-focused society, women still aren’t sexually as liberated as we could be. We’re meant to be sexy and look good but we’re not really allowed to like sex.
If there was one sentence you could pull out, what would it be?
All hail the mighty period.
Was your mum OK with the title of the book? Did you worry about anyone’s reaction to the name?
My mum is so incredibly supportive – she’s quite traditional and definitely not someone to say or do anything too taboo but somehow she doesn’t bat an eyelid at my shenanigans – her attitude and unconditional love gives me the freedom to be completely honest. I hope my kids feels that.
What do you wish you could have told your 18-year-old fanny?
You are wonderful, look after yourself, respect yourself, appreciate the miracle that you are. Oh and sorry for cutting you with scissors when I was trimming you whilst also texting.
Are there more letters to come?
It’ll be interesting to see how the book does – there will be more writing, that’s for sure, but whether it will be published or not is a different story!
Diet coke or full fat?
Diet coke. Old habits.
Deliciously Ella or Deliciously Stella?
Both – I’m a green-juice and yoga girl in the week (although I’m writing this on a Wednesday afternoon with a huge glass of prosecco) and then a cheesy nacho and vodka girl at the weekends.
Describe the book in 3 words.
To buy Letters to my Fanny click here.