Olympian and candidate for West Rural St Andrew in the next general election, Juliet Cuthbert is, in her words, “51, pregnant, fit and fabulous and all set for representational politics”.
“I’m feeling awesome,” she tells SO in an exclusive interview. “It’s an exciting feeling and a great honour to represent Jamaicans in Parliament.”
Style Observer (SO): How did you feel when you heard that you were pregnant?
Juliet Cuthbert (JC): I was ecstatic! It’s something my husband and I have been working towards and I’m finally able to fulfil my dream of having a second child.
SO: What has the feedback been from your husband first, and your son and close family and friends?
JC: My husband is very excited about having his first child, and he’s going to be an awesome father!
My son, who is 26 years old, can’t wait to be a big brother. My family and friends couldn’t believe it. But they are happy for me. All my friends are very protective of me, especially in the gym.
SO: Do you want a boy or a girl?
JC: I want a healthy baby. It doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl. My husband, however, wants a girl.
SO: Are you experiencing any cravings?
JC: I crave fried chicken daily. It’s awful as I don’t normally consume fried foods on a regular basis. There are many days when nothing tastes good. I cannot wait for this phase to pass.
SO: This announcement will raise – indeed, it already has – a few eyebrows. Are you ready for the backlash?
JC: For those who don’t know me personally, I am a strong woman. I pay very little attention to criticism or gossip. My life’s journey has prepared me for many things, so I can deal with anything that comes my way whether in athletics, personal life or politics.
SO: Let us be honest now: you have been under enormous pressure; indeed, word making the rounds is that you were going to be replaced, you were not raising enough money, etc, etc.
What say you?
JC: I never heard that I was being replaced. I was always the candidate for West Rural St Andrew; Juliet Cuthbert is who the people want. Fund-raising is very challenging for any candidate, based on the economic climate. However, I have been able to garner great support in recent weeks because people believe in my vision and my abilities. West Rural St Andrew is in dire need of proper representation and that’s what I will provide.
SO: Are women supportive enough of each other? Have you got help from your fellow female candidates on both sides of the divide?
JC: I’ve certainly got assistance from the women in the JLP. All of them have been very supportive. We’ve all faced challenging times and we call each other from time to time to share ideas or just talk.
SO: Can women have it all?
JC: Certainly! We deserve nothing less. I have a very supportive and loving husband, I love my job, I have a beautiful and comfortable home, a baby on the way, and if things go as planned I’ll be the next MP for West Rural St Andrew.
SO: Politics aside, your pregnancy will make global headlines. Are you prepared for it?
JC: I know there is a lot of public interest, but my focus is on a safe and healthy delivery and showing other women that it can be done. I am enjoying the journey day by day and I’m fine with the good and not-so-good feedback.
SO: You’ve been on bed rest for most of your pregnancy. Can you manage the political hustings?
JC: The first trimester of any pregnancy is always delicate. My constituency has very hilly terrain, so I had to slow down for a few weeks. I also consult with my doctor regularly and know how much I can push. And besides, I am not your average 51-year-old. I was in great pre-pregnancy shape and that has helped a lot.
SO: Win, lose or draw, what are your thoughts on women in politics?
JC: I would invite more women to participate in politics. We have a role to play in society apart from just being caregivers. Women run the households in Jamaica and we can use those same skills to mobilise and inspire constituency members and get the country back on the right track.
SO: Happy Valentine’s Day! What are your plans?
JC: We don’t celebrate holidays, and Valentine’s Day will be no different. It will be another relaxing day for us at home today.