Times caption: Farrah Storr said that she abandoned the struggle to have children in her mid-30s JAY BROOKS FOR THE TIMES MAGAZINE
A piece in today’s Times:
Magazines sell a “lie” that women can have it all, claims the editor of Cosmopolitan, who revealed that she gave up on having children to get her dream job.
Farrah Storr said she and her husband abandoned their plans for IVF treatment after deciding that having a career and a big family was a myth.
Storr told The Times Magazine that she abandoned the struggle to have children in her mid-30s. She admitted to her husband that “her ovarian ache” was not strong enough to justify the sacrifices necessary to raise a family.
She said that when she was younger she was told that she could be the editor on the train into work and the woman with the baby at home. “But it hadn’t worked out that way,” she said.
“Along the way, I had been forced to make uncomfortable choices. The notion that I could have or indeed would want it all was a lie. A lie sold to me by the very magazine I edited.”
Storr, who has worked on a range of women’s magazines including Good Housekeeping, Eve and Women’s Health, said that success in her and her husband’s careers meant having a family would come at a cost.
“Almost overnight, our lives became very full,” she said. “Getting to the top, I quickly discovered, was not so much about ambition and talent but more about hard graft. With two big careers and a marriage to nurture, the fabric of our lives felt stretched to capacity.
“I was 36. I knew that to be an editor of a major magazine would take everything I had. But then, so too would being a mother. I wasn’t sure my ovarian ache was enough to ask one of us to put the handbrake on our dreams. I never made the IVF appointment.
“As I headed into my 37th year, we laid to rest any notions about a family and thus ‘having it all’. I could, I decided, be OK with having it all-ish.”
Storr said she appreciated the irony that “having it all” was propagated by her predecessor, Helen Gurley Brown, in her bestselling book. She later learnt that Gurley Brown, who had no children, fought against the title that her publishers insisted upon. She had turned Cosmopolitan from a prim, failing guide on doing the housework and pleasing your husband to a glossy bible for aspiring young women.
Storr concluded, however, that her generation had been sold a lie. “The irony of choosing not to fulfil an ideal the very magazine I edited had created was not lost on me,” she said.
“In life you have to choose and choosing is uncomfortable. It means opening the gate to one path but closing the gate to the other. Few get to walk both paths. Perhaps, like me, [Gurley Brown] knew deep down the truth: you can’t have it all.”
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