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Anita Rani on why she's finally learning to open up

·3-min read
Photo credit: Helen McArdle
Photo credit: Helen McArdle

From becoming a presenter on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour to publishing a Sunday Times bestselling memoir, 2021 has already been a huge year for Anita Rani.

Now, in an exclusive interview with Good Housekeeping, Anita has opened up about her whirlwind year, the power of getting older and why she's learning to be vulnerable at last.

“My 40s rock!" Anita says. "I think getting older rocks. We’ve been sold this lie that it’s about being young, that once you leave your 20s, that’s it, you’re not beautiful any more or desirable as a woman."

Photo credit: Helen McArdle
Photo credit: Helen McArdle

Describing it as "superficial and such nonsense", Anita explains that she's "in the pursuit of vitality, but not of staying young for ever because there’s no point."

"Getting older gives you wisdom, power and a deeper understanding of yourself,” she says.

Like for many of us, the pandemic has shifted Anita's perspective, especially when it comes to her own vulnerability. “Traditionally, I’ve not been very good at opening up to girlfriends, I’ve kept my feelings to myself. But the pandemic has given us all permission to say, ‘I’m not okay’.

Photo credit: Helen McArdle
Photo credit: Helen McArdle

"Before, we were all on autopilot; even if we were having the worst day, we’d say things were great because we bought into this idea that it’s all about productivity.

"Whereas now we’re all having these really honest conversations; we’re able to share when we’re stressed or worrying.”

The Bradford-born presenter, who was raised by first generation Punjabi immigrant parents, also recalled the racism she experienced growing up.

Photo credit: Helen McArdle
Photo credit: Helen McArdle

“It was always around, from the National Front logo being spray-painted on your local bus stop to someone shouting the ‘P’ word across the street at you," she says. "You always knew you were different.”

It was partly the reason why getting the Woman's Hour gig meant so much to her. "I’ve spent my life listening to Woman’s Hour – even my dad was a big fan of it," she explains. "But I didn’t think that was where I belonged, so the job wasn’t on my radar. It was my agent who encouraged me to go for it."

In her application, Anita wrote about sitting in Ubers and always asking the drivers to put on Radio 4. "I also mentioned vaginas!" she admits. "But because I didn’t think I’d get it, it made me more relaxed; there wasn’t the weight of expectation.”

Photo credit: Helen McArdle
Photo credit: Helen McArdle

Reflecting on her year so far, she says: “Getting a gig presenting Woman’s Hour and writing a book in one year is pretty massive!

"The book is the biggest achievement for me, at least on a personal level. It’s really shifted me into a different sphere. Writing it has changed me.”

Read the full interview with Anita Rani in the November issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale 29th September. It is available in all supermarkets and online at MagsDirect.

The Right Sort Of Girl (Blink Publishing) by Anita Rani is out now.

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