One day, Gabrielle Union got an itch.
The actor was away from home in Miami visiting her then-boyfriend when she felt that familiar (and totally dreaded) twinge down below. She drove to the nearest drug store, marched inside and nearly picked up a box of vaginal cream but chickened out: she didn’t want any other shoppers to know that she, famous actress Gabrielle Union, had a yeast infection.
Panic-stricken, Union called her BFF for advice who instructed her to try plain yogurt as a topical home remedy. If that sounds simple, it wasn’t. The plan resulted in Union driving all over town in the middle of the night, frantically chugging a bunch of cranberry juice and lying butt-naked on her BF’s kitchen floor using a McDonald’s straw as a pseudo applicator. Did you just fall over in laughter? Us too.
The tale is just one of the totally relatable essays in her new book, We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (HarperCollins, $33.50). From learning how to be stepmom, to being friends with the late Prince, to her painful story of sexual assault, Union pours her heart into her We’re Going to Need More Wine—and the result is tears, anger and lots of laughter.
FLARE chatted with the 44-year-old Being Mary Jane star about yeasties (duh) and the anxiety that comes with sharing intimate details of your life in a book. Pour yourself a glass of wine because this is about to get gooood.
K, we need to know: did your plain yogurt yeast infection remedy really work?
I have to say, I did get relief. It was so soothing, even though it was vanilla.
Are there any other home remedies you would recommend?
I don’t have anymore for yeast infections, but there are plenty of beauty remedies I like. One of my favourites is a hair mask made of turmeric milk and Manuka honey. I sit under a steamer with it in for however long I can.
You went through a lot of hassle just so people wouldn’t find out you needed feminine hygiene products. Do you still care about stuff like that today?
I still get that rush of wanting to zip into the store and get what I need and get out, and I don’t know if that will ever go away. I get to the counter and I’m eyeballing the cashier like, “I wish you would say something.” But there is that wave of panic that someone is going to notice when I need super-plus tampons. It’s randomly such an intimate and specific piece of information when someone sees you go reach for that box. Whoever else is in the aisle and opts to pay attention suddenly knows that you’re bleeding—heavily.
Even if you don’t want people to know about your tampons IRL, you’re actually super candid throughout the whole book. Did you and your husband, Dwayne Wade, discuss what aspects of your lives were off-limits?
No. Part of it was just common sense, because we really do enjoy our family and private time. Anything that involved the privacy of our kids, in a way that would sacrifice their peace of mind, was not on the table. When [Dwayne] wrote his book, I didn’t chime in. He was reading as I wrote and never said, “Maybe don’t include that.” He’s been really supportive.
You’ve written about your own sexual assault before, and are a vocal rape advocate. What was the hardest story for you to write?
It’s interesting because a lot of the stories I had written were as part of therapy, so at different points, they were all very hard. I was trying to heal from them and understand what happened. When I recorded the audio book, I found the hardest part was to hear me say the words in the chapters about rape and my pre-nuptial agreement.
You’re largely known for your acting—including playing the iconic Isis in Bring It On. Are you nervous about how people will receive you now as an author?
When I was writing [my stories], I thought there were certain chapters people would care about most. Now that people have read the book and different articles are coming out, everyone asks about a different chapter. I’ve realized that everyone has gone through similar shit, and the things I was super afraid about—for half the people, it was like a blip. Every time I get scared about a reaction, invariably someone says, “Thank you, I felt like I was alone.” Those moments outweigh my anxiety or nerves or annoyance.
Have there been any noteworthy reactions to your stories that totally missed the mark?
This People article came out, and they focused on the essay about my struggle with infertility. In one of the comments, this guy said, “She’s probably infertile due to all those dicks.” I was like, WHAT? First of all, random dude from Alabama, how do you know how many dicks have been in my life? And how many dicks lead to infertility? I’m sure a lot of people would like to know. You get annoyed because that was not the point. It’s a jumble of emotions at any given time.
The two words that first appear next to your name in Google are “young” and “age.” How does that make you feel?
I’m going to be 45 this month and I feel awesome. I feel like I’ve never looked better. In my mind, when I was younger, I thought at 45 I’d be like Big Mama in a housecoat watching people from the porch. But as I started to age, I had to reimagine age because I’m definitely not that; I still want to wear crop tops and dance on tables, so age is what you make it. When people talk about “age appropriate”—F-you! I’m going to do whatever the hell I want, and redefine what “age appropriate” means.
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