What does it mean to be a ‘woman’?

10 Oct 2019 by Hannah Heather
What does it mean to be a ‘woman’?

A recent chat with a community member hit a chord for me, following my own preventative journey, when the conversation turned to the belief that in having preventative surgeries to mitigate a cancer risk including a double mastectomy and oophorectomy, that as survivors (either a ‘previvor’ or a cancer survivor), we are somehow less ‘woman’.

As women, the media, our society, the influencers we look up to on social platforms, have continued to perpetuate  flat tummies, big bottoms, voluptuous breasts, as a way to measure femininity and in turn, what the ‘ideal’ woman looks like. Whether they intend to, or not.

However, this, along with the confused and inconsistent definition of ‘woman’ can make it difficult to truly associate with what a woman is or should be and is only brought to the surface for many of us after our breasts and ovaries are removed.

So, what does it truly mean to be a woman?

I always believed prior to my preventative mastectomy losing my breasts would make me feel less woman, I was no longer able to nourish a child, so what use was I as a woman? I imagined this would become even more real once my ovaries were taken and my ability to bring life into this world would be completely revoked even despite the fact that I’ve had my babies, and don’t plan to have more.

Yet, as I navigate and connect with the incredible women of the Pink Hope community, I recognise that womanhood, to be woman, is a state of mind; it is certainly not limited by our biology.

As I spend more and more time engrained in this high-risk world of women, I recognise that with or without my breasts, I am more woman today than I have ever been. My feminity, my womanhood no longer makes me feel like less of a woman. Because you don’t needbreasts to be or identify as a woman.

Instead, my womanhood is defined by my courage, my contribution to the world and the powerful use of my emotional intelligence to navigate situations and guide my children through the world, and not the fact I brought them into it.

Being a woman can be defined in a million and one ways and interpreted however you feel it should be based on your own experiences, values and beliefs.

Regardless of your definition of what constitutes a woman, remember, you are not defined by the sum of your parts.




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