FKA Twigs has opened up about painful surgery and recovery on fibroids in her uterus. Speaking to good friend Irene Agbontaen on her TTYA podcast, the British singer described having laparoscopic surgery in December 2017 to have six large fibroid tumors—which she likened to two apples, three kiwis, a few strawberries, and 'a fruit bowl of pain every day' —removed from her uterus. ‘Fibroids are a strange thing because a lot of women do have them, but it’s kind of like to what extent do you have them. Almost like eyesight. Like some people need contact lenses, some people are long-sighted or short-sighted, and then some people can’t see. It’s on a scale of severity,’ Twigs explained.
She said of the fibroids, ‘You could physically see them—like I could put my hand into my stomach and grab them like eggs’, and added that one day she simply couldn’t sit up in bed and had to be rushed for medical attention.
‘I was working so much, and I was so determined [to] make an album, that I actually knew that I had some sort of growth in my stomach for a long time, and I didn’t do anything,’ she explained. ‘I assumed that I had stomach cancer and that I was going to die. It was kind of this underlying stress that I have never told anyone about.’
TTYA’s host is British-Nigerian Irene, who launched the pod as an offshoot of her fashion label for tall women. She says it was born as a result of living in a world which offered little inclusivity for her. Here she tells Grazia about her journey to building an influential platform:
Can you tell us a bit about your professional background and how this podcast came about
Standing at 5’11”, I noticed a gap in the market for wardrobe essentials, so I created TTYA London, TTYA standing for Taller Than Your Average inspired by a Biggie Smalls lyric, mainly due to the lack of inclusivity at the time around tall clothing in the fashion industry.
In 2015 I launched a panel series with Soho House Group to highlight pioneering women who are working in the creative industries and sports. Mainly due to the fact that it was so tough for me starting in fashion and finding mentors and like minded women to ask the real questions we really wanted to know like ‘What should my day rate be’ or ‘How do I put together an NDA or find a good lawyer?’
TTYA is billed as the inclusive space for the excluded girl – can you expand on this and explain why it was so important to launch it?
Ever since I can remember I stood out, I was always the outsider. I’m a child of immigrants. My parents moved to the UK for a better life, they pushed an academic career because that’s how they saw black people being respected and successful. Growing up in the west, I’ve been exposed to so much more than my parents ever were but one thing that still remains is the lack of diversity particularly in the creative industries. We live in a time where black culture is popular culture and the only way we are going to see more of us in these spaces is if we share our stories, educate and provide the tools needed for the next generation.
Can you talk a bit about some of the high profile guests who have appeared on your podcast and what they taught you
Episode one featured Leomie Anderson & Neelam Gill. I love them so much because they set the tone from the jump exactly what the TTYA Talks podcast is about. It’s almost like your group chat with your best friends. I’ve had Julie Adenuga, broadcaster and sister to Grime artists Skepta & JME, who shared her tips on what makes a good broadcaster. There was also Maya Jama. What I loved most about Maya’s episode is that Maya knew from a young girl exactly what career she wanted and wasted no time in moving to London pursuing her dream. From Maya I took away drive and determination.
FKA Twigs is your most recent guest, how do you know her, and what is she like?
Yes, me and Twigs met 8 years ago and we’ve been close ever since, we have such an incredible honest friendship. I love when our work schedules cross paths internationally because we always have a good time! Her episode focuses on creativity within the music industry from an artist perceptive, her battle with fibroids and internet trolls. When Twigs first told me she had fibroids - I have to be honest I didn’t realise how many women suffer from them. The more she educated me and the more research I did I was so surprised by the high percentage of women of colour who have fibroids. Twigs is a very shy and private person, but she was so passionate about telling her story - more to friend rather than a media outlet. I think once you listen the episode you’ll be able to see how amazing and incredibly hard working she is. She was also very open about the racism and trolling she received when she was thrust into the public eye and definitely opens up a conversation about how social media affects your mental health.
TTYA Talks is available now on your podcast provider