Laura Dowling aka. The Fabulous Pharmacist on Instagram is on a mission to get everyone talking openly about women’s health
Walking down the hallway towards the function room of The Rose Hotel in Tralee, I felt a slight wave of apprehension wash over me. I genuinely had no idea what to expect. I’d left my house at 6.15pm, despite the ticket saying that proceedings would start at 6pm and it was now just after half past. Nothing worse than showing up early and awkwardly avoiding eye contact with people until the place fills up, right?
How wrong I was.
Upon entering the room, I was greeted by a wall of sound as what looked like hundreds of women sat at their tables or milled around chatting, laughing, getting drinks at the bar and taking photos, giddy with excitement at the event about to start. It was well over ten minutes before my friend and I could find available seats and, as I settled my goodie bag at my feet, I realised just how lucky I was to be there.
Suddenly, there was a commotion near the door and, to the strains of Sinéad O’Connor’s Mandinka, the Fabulous Pharmacist herself made her entrance in a spectacular 70s-style sparkly jumpsuit.
What followed was an evening of hilarity and heart with the health of women at its core. There were talks from Laura herself, including a priceless story about how she started her Instagram account (let’s just say, it involved an explicit photo of her friend’s husband, sent with his consent!), women’s pelvic health specialist Aoife Harvey, skin entrepreneur Jennifer Rock, intimacy coach Grace Alice O’Shea, Waxpert’s Ellen Kavanagh Jones, Shawna Scott of SexSiopa.ie and several appearances by drag artist Connie Whelan.
There was also comedy from Kyla Cobbler, a Cork woman currently residing in Barcelona who had the audience in stitches as she discussed everything from PMT to the difference between dating in Spain and Ireland.
A beautiful two-course meal was served during the evening and following dessert, guests were invited to a separate shopping area to peruse a range of products including the infamous EMSELLA chair, Skingredients, The Skin Lab, Moody Activewear, Style Solutions, Heire Wax, THEYA Healthcare and more.
But while the mood was always extremely upbeat and fun, the show never lost sight of what everyone was really there for – bettering the lives of women. Serious issues were addressed during the night including prolapse, post-birth incontinence, stress, repression, masturbation, shame, the difference in how boys and girls are raised, breast examination, the importance of advocating for yourself with your pharmacist or doctor and not living with unnecessary pain.
A few days later, Laura posted on her Instagram account saying: “There is no better feeling than a room full of women sharing stories, vulnerabilities, love, respect and kindness all wrapped up in fun. Raw, hard, meaningful conversations. Conversations that will change lives. Kerry … you were absolutely amazing. Thank you for trusting us.”
The sold out Viva La Vulva: Live Tour continues on 24 Feb in Cork and, with any luck, more dates will be added so this fabulous event can be experienced by as many women as possible.