I thought someone was playing a practical joke on me last week when I received an email from an MTV producer about the filming of a new True Life episode on infertility. I'll admit I was a little taken back by the idea of MTV producing a show on such a serious and sensitive topic - especially one that already receives such negative press. But I was excited to learn today that RESOLVE has given MTV guidance on how to approach it.
That excitement quickly disappeared when I began to read the comments on RESOLVE's Facebook post about the show.
There have always been discussions about age and infertility. In fact, I did an interview a few months back with The Huffington Post on this topic and very few of my comments were included in the article - likely because I didn't give them the responses they were looking for. My argument was, and still is, that age doesn't matter. And not that age doesn't matter just from a physical standpoint. I mean that age doesn't matter from an emotional standpoint, either. Infertility is infertility. Whether you're young, old, black, white, brown, green, rich, poor, man, woman, or otherwise, this disease is a struggle. One journey is no more or less difficult than the next. One person isn't more or less worthy of parenthood than the next. Infertility just IS. And it sucks equally.
So imagine my surprise scrolling through and reading comment after comment from women who are upset over MTV's age requirement for the show (18-29). Women who don't think couples that young should be featured on the show. Women who don't think couples that age should be trying to have a baby. Women who don't think couples that age have it as bad as couples who are older or who've been trying for longer.
It's one thing to have people outside of this community stereotype infertility as a disease related to age. It's another for people inside of this community to do it. We are supposed to be a team. We are supposed to fight this together - the disease and the stereotypes that aim to keep us down.
MTV's age requirement doesn't surprise me. The ages they've invited to participate in this show meet their demographic. They're smart. They know that if a teenager turns on MTV and sees a 40-year-old woman speaking about infertility, that teenager will turn the channel. But if that same teenager sees a young woman talking about her struggle, she's more likely to tune in. She's more likely to hear the message.
And that's what this should be about. It should be about the message we are trying to get across, not the age of the person sending that message. This is about getting infertility out there to a new audience. This is about bringing awareness to more men and women regarding a disease that it so often overlooked and so often placed into a box. I'm disappointed in the women who took this news not as an opportunity to share our stories, but as a chance to divide us by numbers that make no difference in how we deal with this disease.
I was diagnosed with infertility at the age of 22. I'd barely reached adulthood when my doctor told me that I may never carry a child. It was devastating - just as it was devastating for those of you who were diagnosed in your thirties and forties. Am I less worthy of a child because some of you have lived longer? Been married longer? Been trying longer? I would like to think that this isn't the case. I would like to think that we all deserve what we've worked so hard to achieve. I would like to think that we all can recognize, understand, and empathize with the struggles others have in trying to build a family.
And I would like to think that we will all tune in to support the young, brave individuals who choose to share their stories with MTV. Thank you to anyone who steps up and becomes a voice for this community.