Tiffany Haddish revealed that she recently had a miscarriage. And, according to the Washington Post, Haddish opened up about her fraught reproductive history when a nurse asked her if she was doing okay in the aftermath of the loss.
“Well, I’m going to be honest with you,” she shared. “This would be my eighth one. I’ve got a uterus shaped like a heart. It just won’t keep anything in.” A heart-shaped uterus is known as a bicornuate uterus, and it can cause pregnancy complications. According to Cleveland Clinic, the only treatment for this is surgery.
Haddish is, by all accounts, very famous. We don’t just know about her work as an actress and comedian, we also know her humor, parts of her personality, and details of her life.
Tiffany Haddish opens up about her eight miscarriages — and her choice to grieve them privately
But we didn’t know about her fertility challenges. Before Haddish revealed this information, we were unaware she’d lost a pregnancy, let alone eight. This was intentional on Haddish’s part, she shared — the star revealed she kept her reproductive history under wraps, with only one close friend knowing about the miscarriage. "I don’t want people saying: ‘Are you okay? Are you all right?'" she said. “Like a wounded animal, I [would] just rather go in a cave by myself. Lick my wounds."
In 2023, Haddish’s choice seems like an uncommon one, especially among the celebrity set. Stars are earning praise left and right for opening up about their reproductive stories, their losses, their egg freezing, and the rounds of treatments they’ve endured. They absolutely deserve that praise: Celebrities have done so much to move conversations about reproductive health forward, normalizing and destigmatizing once-taboo topics while doing so.
But Haddish’s initial choice — to keep her fertility story private — is just as respectable. Famous or not, no one owes anyone the details of their reproductive history, and drawing your own boundaries around your experience is a perfectly valid choice. And for many women of color in particular, this feels like the right choice, even if reaching that choice is complicated.
Racial disparities in fertility care
Women of color face specific reproductive barriers and bear the brunt of so many stereotypes that relate to how they receive medical care. For Black women specifically, there’s the idea that they won’t experience fertility issues. That idea seeps into the consciousness of healthcare providers, who frequently dismiss the reproductive concerns of Black patients, effectively setting them up for complications and delays in how they receive care.
As a South Asian woman myself, I’ve seen firsthand how women of color don’t always feel empowered to voice their concerns in medical settings, particularly in the context of reproductive health. The stereotypes may vary based on race, but they absolutely exist for women of color, and they absolutely harm them and their reproductive outcomes.
But it’s not just about outcomes. There’s also the element of how women of color have felt disempowered to express their experiences and feelings in social settings or online. There’s the way women of color internalize the idea that their voices don’t belong in mainstream conversations. For Black women, as Haddish alluded to, there’s a layer of pressure to be “strong”, and it sounds as though that particular stereotype played a role in her decision to keep her experience to herself.
This isn’t just an idea or a thing I’ve noticed myself as a woman of color who has navigated the world of pregnancy loss and fertility challenges. It’s also backed up by research. Multiple pieces of research have revealed racial discrepancies in both clinical outcomes and interactions within fertility clinics. A 2015 study from the University of Michigan found that Black women often suffer from infertility alone. The study explored the factors that lead to this increased isolation Black women face and pointed to lack of representation as one of the factors behind this.
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This is something we need to be talking about more. We finally have media representation of fertility challenges, both from fictional content (like TV shows, movies, and books) as well as social media content, celebrity interviews, and the like. But still, so many public infertility stories center on straight, white, affluent women. There aren’t enough efforts to include women of color in these conversations.
Black women face the greatest barriers in the world of reproductive health, but it’s important that we consider other women of color, whose experiences have barely been studied by the research community, and who also lack representation. Many of these women, particularly Asian women, come from cultures that still uphold stigmas about sexual and reproductive health, which can make seeking information and sharing experiences about fertility so much more challenging.
It’s a vicious cycle. Haddish, as well as other celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Mindy Kaling, and Gabrielle Union, who have also revealed pieces of their reproductive stories without giving the public the sort of intimate, granular details many stars provide, absolutely deserve the right to choose what they share with the public, as well as when and how they share it. They deserve ownership over their own experiences, and they shouldn’t have to carry the burden of being the ones to break down these walls for other women of color.
At the same time, when these women open up, it carries a different level of significance. It provides representation for other women of color who may be struggling to find their own voices in conversations about reproductive health.
Zara Hanawalt is a freelance journalist and mom of twins. She's written for outlets like Parents, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Motherly, and many others. In her (admittedly limited!) free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, trying new restaurants, and traveling with her family.