Jen Mann skewers middle age in her new book Midlife Bites

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The author and the art. // Photo by Michael Mackie

Lady garden. Cooch. Baby cannon. Love tunnel. Those are only a handful of descriptors author Jen Mann uses to discuss her nether-regions in her newest book, Midlife Bites.

Mann’s new release is a chronicle of comedic catharsis as she begrudgingly began settling into middle age—and she’s uber-specific when discussing her vagina.

Thanks to her quippy social media meanderings, the New York Times bestselling author has become a beacon for women who want to discuss their lady bits.

“I’ve been blogging online for ten years,” she says. “And I don’t know what it is, but anything vagina-related people will e-mail to me and say, “Please write about this.’ It’s clickbait gold. People love to read about it. Like jade eggs you stick up your hoo-hah? It’s insane.”

The self-proclaimed ‘vagina whisperer’ is living up to her namesake by giving readers a decidedly candid spin on her trip to Middle Ageville. The book was the by-product of a warts-and-all viral blog Mann posted a couple of years ago, lamenting her 40s.

The mommy blogosphere latched on to it and claimed Mann as their own.

“My editor read it and sent me an e-mail and said, ‘This is your next book.’ She said, ‘Stop crying and start writing.’ But I wasn’t sure how this could be a book. It went through many, many rewrites. This is not the book I pitched and not the book I turned in the first time,” the Blue Valley North grad admits. “I would get these epiphanies. I had to find my voice. The vulnerability was hard for me to write. I can crack jokes all day online about stuff that bothers me, but to be real with myself and my readers was hard.”

The result is one part f-bomb-laden memoir, one part f-bomb-laden self-help manual. For instance, if you’ve ever found a hair sprouting out of your nipple, you’re not alone. Mann has a whole chapter dedicated to accepting your ever-changing body.

And if the section on frozen dildos doesn’t grab your attention, nothing will. To hear her tell it, Mann—who also wrote the oh-so irreverent People I Want to Punch in the Throat book series—has channeled her fury and experiences into something productive.

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Photo by Jen Mann

Mann adds that the book was a labor of love during the never-ending pandemic lockdown.

“It was hard to be funny when there was so much fear and anxiety. I felt like it was my purpose to make people laugh,” she says. “This book got me out of my malaise—and it will get other people out of their malaise.”

Mann isn’t shy about discussing her mental health struggles in the book, especially the nuances of wallowing.

“I am a big fan of wallowing. I’ve always struggled with depression since high school and junior high,” she says. “That’s why there are mental health days. Maybe 24 hours, maybe a weekend. I give myself time to just become one with my couch, binge terrible TV, and eat whatever I want to eat. Then I’ll be like, ‘Bitch, it’s time to get back to work. It’s time to go.’ I push myself up and go.”

Midlife Bites (yes, an homage to the ’90s sleeper film, Reality Bites) hasn’t even been out a month, but it’s already getting a warm reception—including write-ups in the New York PostPublisher’s Weekly, and Katie Couric Media. But where it’s really struck a nerve is with Mann’s obsessive online fandom, who chime in with wild abandon on all Mann’s musings and social media snark.

When we asked whether any celebs are in that mix, she laughs. “That’s the weird thing. People think I must have celebrities retweeting me or sharing my stuff—and I don’t,” she says. “It is suburban moms, and a few brave dads, and a few uncles who just love everything I do. I wish Tina Fey would follow me, I would fan-girl the shit outta her.” (Hey Liz Lemon, DM her or it’s a Dealbreaker.)

For now, the local author is relishing in her latest release and looking forward to an upcoming getaway in Vegas with some of her beloved readers; “Mann-atics,” if you will. Once the coronavirus surge slows, Mann hopes a book tour is in the works. “When we travel, I say I’m from KC and my husband says he’s from New York City,” she says with a smile. “And I’m like, babe, it’s time. We’ve been back here twenty years. You’re a Kansas Citian now—a JoCo’er.”

Find Midlife Bites online or in any metro bookstore, where—bonus!—chances are it’s a signed copy.

“Think of it as a manual on how to laugh through all this shit.  But there’s also a lot in there about liking who you are at this point,” says Mann. “We’re not getting any younger. We’re not changing. Stop worrying about what people think about you.”

Categories: Culture