Sonya Lennon on ‘judgement’ her daughter, 17, faces buying pregnancy test in pharmacy

'The side head nod and involuntary laugh from one pharmacy staff member to another was too much'
Sonya Lennon on ‘judgement’ her daughter, 17, faces buying pregnancy test in pharmacy

Sonya Lennon: These are not bad people, they're all of us. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

We’ve all been there.

The judgmental looks from other customers as you quickly try to grab the first pregnancy-test you see on the shelf, being pulled into a side room for a consultation before picking up the morning-after pill (or worse yet, being asked those questions right at the till), being quizzed about whether you actually need the Nurofen plus.

So, when power-woman Sonya Lennon’s daughter faced the same judgement recently, the presenter and designer decided to say something.

Sonya’s 17-year-old daughter Evie has spent the last eight months on the powerful anti-acne drug Roaccutane. As there is a high risk that severe birth defects will result if pregnancy occurs while taking the drug, one of the conditions attached to taking the drug in Ireland is to agree to abstain from sexual intercourse or to go on birth control to prevent pregnancy occurring.

As Lennon explained in a now-viral Linkedin post, “Before every monthly prescription for Roaccutane is issued my seventeen-year-old daughter must present a negative pregnancy test to prove that she is still eligible to take the drug.” 

Sonya's daughter felt judged buying pregnancy tests. Picture:Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Sonya's daughter felt judged buying pregnancy tests. Picture:Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

“For eight months now, our smart, self-possessed daughter has gone into pharmacies to buy these pregnancy tests. Every time without fail, someone, usually a customer, smirks, makes a disparaging comment, intimates a judgement or does something which leads to her feeling like she has to explain herself, which she does not.

“This month, the side head nod and involuntary laugh came from one pharmacy staff member to another. That was too much.” 

The LIFT (Leading Ireland’s Future Together) co-founder said she then decided to talk to staff in the pharmacy, asking them "to suspend judgement and think twice before making assumptions.” 

“They were very embarrassed and apologised unreservedly.” 

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Lennon said; “I know it's human nature [to judge]. I've studied unconscious bias, the psychology of judgement. I still make judgements on people, we all do.

“For me, the important part of the post was to just start to question the judgements that we make, through the lens of empathy and understanding and not knowing all the facts.

Sonya Lennon: It’s really touched a nerve with people.
Sonya Lennon: It’s really touched a nerve with people.

“My purpose was not to go in [to the pharmacy] and chastise them. It was to broaden their awareness.

“As I said, in the post, these are not bad people, they're all of us. And when I spoke to the person in the pharmacy, I said, 'what's really important to me is that you share this with all your colleagues'.

“It's not about one individual. It's about how we behave on a day to day has an impact on other people. 

"We forget sometimes that our words and actions have consequences.” 

The fashion designer said the post has reached a quarter of a million people on the business networking site since she posted it earlier this week.

“It’s really touched a nerve with people.”

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