Redefining Bitch

posted in: Just Be Enough, Life 0 comments

Bitch, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary: a lewd or immoral woman; a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse.

The first time someone called me a bitch was when I was 17 going on 18, and had just entered college. A boy in my class said to me, “You’re a bitch.” I’m sure he had a terrible and unwarranted reason, and I’m definite I did not respond, probably too shocked to speak.

Since then, I’ve been called bitch many times. Mostly behind my back, sometimes in my face, but always, I’d be a little surprised.

As I am most certainly not lewd or immoral.

Nor am I malicious or spiteful. If I am, surely someone would have used those specific words.

I may have been overbearing at times, but just by being dominant and ‘harshly and haughtily arrogant’ (again, as defined by the dictionary), does not make me a bitch.

I would contest haughty and arrogant too, but that’s for another post.

I’ve thought about this long and hard, over a period of years, as to why I’ve been labeled a bitch by some (self-reflection is good for you, people!).

Purely from a career perspective, these are the possible reasons why I’m a bitch:

1. I demanded perfection. Of myself, of the people who worked with me and for me.

2. I was (and still am) honest. I called a spade a spade. I hardly minced my words. I’m sure a few sensitive souls were hurt.

3. I stood up for myself, and for others in a similar situation. If we were being unfairly treated, I’d say so. Even if it meant pissing people off.

4. I worked hard. I worked my tail off. In the process, I may have been blindsided by that and neglected personal relationships with certain co-workers. I may have stepped on a few toes. And I didn’t really care.

5. In working hard, I also worked my team hard. I was a slave driver. I was a stickler for deadlines.

6. I had no interest in office politics. I found the game play exhausting and pointless, and the constant butt kissing cringe worthy and a time waster.

7. I had high standards for my work. And if the work I submitted to the management involved input from other people, I labored over the details. I frequently sent stuff back to them over and over, wanting every single detail correct.

The people I worked with either loved me or hated me. I’m pretty sure the latter group threw the word ‘bitch’ my way more than a few times.

I was not deterred. I would not let a word define me.

I would rather define the word.

I would rather define bitch to mean:

Someone who will do their best for a career they love, or a passion that drives them.

Someone whose passion demands perfection, devotion and a certain amount of hardiness.

Someone who will stand up for themselves.

Someone who is honest and true to themselves.

So yes, I am a bitch. I am ME.

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So, are you a bitch too?




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  • August 29, 2011 Bits of Bee

    By your definition, I am definitely a bitch! It sounds like we share the same work ethics, and I agree that our quest for perfection can sometimes be misconstrued!
    Bits of Bee recently wrote…Random Things I’ve Learned This WeekMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Alison

      The ones who cannot stand perfection are the ones who usually throw the bitch word around, right?

  • August 29, 2011 Jessica

    I’ve always been called a bitch. I think it’s because I don’t share my martinis.
    Jessica recently wrote…10 Reasons I’m Sad School StartedMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Alison

      That makes you a total bitch, yes. 🙂

    • August 29, 2011 Poppy

      Amen to that. Nothing ticks me off more than when someone asks me for an olive!
      Poppy recently wrote…At Least It Was A Good PartyMy Profile

  • August 29, 2011 Kimberly

    We ARE the same. I’m always called a bitch. I own it now and I’m okay with it. The others are just jealous of our perfection. 😉
    Kimberly recently wrote…A New Kind of Link UpMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Alison

      Yes, owning it, exactly that. #TeamBitch

  • August 29, 2011 Jessica

    This is a tough one. I would certainly like to fit YOUR definition, and I think I do. AND I want to think that I’m able to exact high standards from my colleagues and my students with their participation and consent so that we’re all in it together rather than my being a slavedriver to unwilling and unhappy people. Unfortunately that’s a dream world in which I live, I know that. So yeah, the word’s probably been thrown my way a time or two as well. I wish we could easily reclaim words like this and make them a source of pride!
    Jessica recently wrote…Promise to a New MotherMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Alison

      I do hope that I didn’t make people unhappy so much as to inspire them to do better, not just for me, but for themselves. At the same time, I was not winning popularity contests and I didn’t care. 🙂 I am reclaiming this word, here and now!

  • August 29, 2011 Catheryn

    I have to thank you for your ‘bitchy’ definition and yes with your definition, I AM A BIG BITCH!!! 🙂
    Catheryn recently wrote…Flowery ProjectMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Alison

      We will be great friends 🙂

  • August 29, 2011 Kiddothings

    I’ve never been called a bitch in my face. Behind my back, I don’t know, I doubt it. But I certainly have felt bitchy sometimes. I like your redefinition of a bitch. You certainly deserve that title – your definition, that is.
    Kiddothings recently wrote…10 Places I LoveMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Alison

      I had a feeling that you, a gentle soul, would never have been called a bitch. And thank you!

  • August 29, 2011 Stasha

    For a treat cause like this, I will be a bitch too! Love this post Alison!!
    Stasha recently wrote…Monday ListiclesMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Alison

      You’re too sweet to be a bitch of any kind, dear Stasha!!

  • August 29, 2011 Theresa

    I try to be as bitchy as possible. But, to me, bitchy means not putting up with shit and being myself.
    Yay for bitches!
    Theresa recently wrote…Don’t Leave the Nest MommaMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Alison

      Yes, that too!! The not-putting-up-with-shit was a big thing for me, and I used to put myself in situations unwittingly when I stand up for me. Ah well, I came through just fine!

  • August 29, 2011 Barbara

    I have been called a bitch many times, but the first time I heard it in a professional setting I was taken aback! For all of the reasons you said – being career driven, professional and demanding the best of myself and others I was deemed a bitch. Like you, if it meant being a person that took pride in her work then so be it!
    Barbara recently wrote…InnsbruckMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      I’m frankly not surprised that so many women relate to this – the bias is universal!Go #TeamBitch!

  • August 29, 2011 Jessica

    I’ve always thought being a bitch just meant you weren’t easily cowed by whomever referred to you in that way. So I’m definitely one as well. GREAT post.
    Jessica recently wrote…A little lighter load…My Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Jessica!!

  • August 29, 2011 JDaniel4's Mom

    You sound like something so much better than that. You inspire, challenge, and achieve!
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently wrote…Muffin Tin Monday- Back to SchoolMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      That’s a brilliant way to look at it, Deidre, thank you!

  • August 29, 2011 Galit Breen

    Nicely done friend.

    Nicely done, indeed.
    Galit Breen recently wrote…The Magic of a Few Days AwayMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Hehe, thank you Galit 😉

  • August 29, 2011 Life As Wife

    I totally agree that people generally call women bitches if they have a strong personality.

    You know what? Bitches unite!!!
    Life As Wife recently wrote…SuckerMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Bitches unite!! Yay!

  • August 29, 2011 Evonne

    I think your definition of a bitch is so much better. A strong woman who sets high standards and isn’t afraid to speak her mind is something we should all strive for.
    Evonne recently wrote…White knucklesMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Evonne, for the support. Now, if only more people saw it that way.

  • August 29, 2011 By Word of Mouth Musings

    Sad that its an easy cop out to call someone a name … as long as there is no maliciousness or evil intent, one should not be called out for trying to be one’s best.
    love to you.

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Nicole. But don’t you worry about me, I wore my bitch badge with pride 🙂

  • August 29, 2011 Natalie

    I think strong women always get labeled this especially in the workforce. Maybe people should expand their vocabulary no? Great post!

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      I believe so, we should either coin a new word for true malicious types or start a movement to redefine bitch!

  • August 29, 2011 Not a Perfect Mom

    I love posts when people cuss…ahhh…
    anyway…own it…be a bitch…
    sometimes if we aren’t the world will walk all over us..
    but in my opinion, you’re nothing but sweet…
    Not a Perfect Mom recently wrote…Carline for DummiesMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Aw Holly, thanks. I am sweet, a sweet bitch 🙂

  • August 29, 2011 Aubrey Anne

    I can’t remember a time after fourth grade when someone wasn’t calling me a bitch. It seems to fit your description… someone who stands up for themselves and what they believe in. People don’t like it when you call a spade a spade… but if you ask me, there’s no other way to live.

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Life is short, live it the way you see fit, that’s my belief!

  • August 29, 2011 Missy

    I’ve been called a bitch many times too. Still do get it sometimes. I draw a distinction between the bitch you describe (I’m much like that too) and “vicious bitch,” which is a nasty back stabbing, kind of evil person.

    Thanks for bringing something out to make us think!
    Missy recently wrote…Who a Literal Mom is NOT – a Review of SummerMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Yes, there is THAT kind of bitch, as defined by the dictionary. Unfortunately for the ones who threw the word at me, they did not know the distinction. That is the sad part. And thank YOU for reading and weighing in.

  • August 29, 2011 Shell

    I like your new definition. If that’s a bitch, go ahead and call me one. 🙂
    Shell recently wrote…September Photo Linky Announcement! Don’t This OneMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Yes, bitch! Woohoo!! 🙂

  • August 29, 2011 Julie

    Oh, you betcha. It’s a label I wear with pride.
    Julie recently wrote…My house smells like Vicks and Bengay, so you know we’re having funMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      You and me both, sistah! #TeamBitch

  • August 29, 2011 Kim

    I’m a bitch to for all of those reasons. You are the exact kind of person I’d love to work with or for. Nothing frustrates me more than laziness, and if I get called bitch for having high standards then so be it, but I wish there was a better word that could some it up. I look at some female leaders around the world and unfortunately most of them have been labelled as bitches somewhere on the Internet. I just don’t get it. I don’t think men are called assess for being driven and demanding. Can you tell this post really resonated with me? I loved every word of it!!!!
    Kim recently wrote…A Writer-Mama’s Favorite PlacesMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      I’m so glad you relate Kim! I think many women can, it’s such a common issue. And yes, when men act like that, they’re seen as positive, inspiring figures. That irks me! So go #TeamBitch!

  • August 29, 2011 Poppy

    A lot of women use the word or some variation, ie biotch, in a joking manner with their friends. I do this too. Using the word in a non derogatory way makes the word a little less powerful. Let’s take back that stupid word because you’re absolutely right. Being a strong woman with a good work ethnic, is not negative.
    Poppy recently wrote…At Least It Was A Good PartyMy Profile

    • August 29, 2011 Poppy

      Was that a double negative? I lost count! I hope the Grammar Police don’t get me, they can be total bitches 🙂
      Poppy recently wrote…At Least It Was A Good PartyMy Profile

      • August 30, 2011 Alison

        Haha!! You know, friendly bitch banter between girlfriends is totally okay, because we know we are using it in a positive way. Now, if only those asswipes who call strong women bitches in the worst possible way, will just adjust their perception.

  • August 29, 2011 Sweaty

    Thank YOU, Alison, for redefining the meaning of “bitch.” Lord knows how many times I’ve been called that. Mostly by people who didn’t even know me. In fact, I have what my friends call, a “bitchy” face. Go figure.

    This is a perfect post for Just.Be.Enough. It’s really empowering and motivational. It shows that you don’t have to succumb to whatever others label you as. In fact, the mirror has two faces; it really depends on how you choose to see it.

    Powerful and influential post!
    Sweaty recently wrote…He’s So Vain, He Would Think This Post is NOT About HimMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Thank you dear friend!! Taking something back and owning it is the only way to empower yourself. I tried hard not to come off as too preachy or condescending, I’m so glad you and so many get it!

      PS: I’ve also been told I have a ‘bitchy’ face. Whatevs.

  • August 30, 2011 Megan (Best of Fates)

    I am all about the new definition – in fact, I am the official party bitch among my friends! (

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Haha I love your nickname!!

  • August 30, 2011 Courtney

    I have to say, if working hard to achieve what you want and doing the best that you can do makes you a bitch, then so be it. There is nothing wrong with a good work ethic and sense of pride in what you do.
    Courtney recently wrote…A Letter for AugustMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Courtney.

  • August 30, 2011 Mrs. Jen B

    I think that when it comes to work-related stuff, those with a…less-developed 😉 work ethic see those with a stronger one as, yes, a bitch. I know all too well how it feels to work with someone who just didn’t seem to give a crap about how things got done and it killed me – and I’m sure the person in question thought I was a raging bitch because I gave her such a hard time. But then I thought she was a useless waste of breath, so…

    Anyway, I got off topic.

    Owning the word lessens its meaning, for sure.

    And for the record, though it’s been said to death, a man would never be called a bitch for acting that way.
    Mrs. Jen B recently wrote…Be Enough Me: June Cleaver, I Am NotMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      The person you describe? There’s one in every office!

      And you’re right, no one ever called a strong, hardworking man a bitch. Hmph.

  • August 30, 2011 Christi

    I’ve often thought that I need to be more of a bitch and less of a doormat. Do you give lessons?
    Christi recently wrote…My Daughter, My HeroMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Haha! Christi, the sooner you stop calling yourself a doormat, the sooner you will gain your bitch badge 🙂

  • August 30, 2011 FranceRants

    i am with you on all the reasons, i am the same exact way.

    i don’t know how often i was called a bitch, but my colleagues used to tell new people in our group not to ‘poke the tiger’ (meaning me).

    so what? i got the job done well, my customers loved me (and i have awards to prove it) and i could still make people laugh. but my expectations were high and stupidity and laziness were unacceptable.

    if a man is like that, he is a great leader. what a crock of shit.
    FranceRants recently wrote…Another Personal Rant Minus the Editing and Story StructureMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Yes, exactly! A crock of shit, indeed. I knew there were more reasons why I love you! We are soul sistahs!!

  • August 30, 2011 Rach (DonutsMama)

    Yeah, not doing exactly what other people expect of you gets you called certain unfriendly words. Why are we always being put in boxes and told where to stand??
    Rach (DonutsMama) recently wrote…I Want A Refund { Just.Be.Enough}My Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      I love the way you summarized it Rach!! And I have no answer to your question, I wish I knew, damnit.

  • August 30, 2011 Kristin

    I would agree with you on all points except for perfection. I think it’s one thing to strive for perfection, to expect or demand it – from yourself and others – is a tad unrealistic, IMO. And I say this as a perfectionist who also suffers from a depression/anxiety disorder. Attempting to achieve perfection has sent me into an over-anxious depressive spiral more than once.

    I just think true perfection doesn’t really exist. We can each only try to be the best that we can be.
    Kristin recently wrote…She Eats: Herbed SalmonMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Yes, perfection is unrealistic, I think that’s what made it so hard for me, and for the people who worked with/ for me. It was unfair. I knew that. I know that. I guess in the back of my mind, for me to demand perfection, I hoped to get at least ‘I tried my hardest’ back sort of ‘perfection’. Not true perfection, just a lofty goal, so if they hit at least 80%, they would have done a good job. Does that make sense?

  • August 30, 2011 Kelly

    If going by your new definition of bitch, then yes, I am one too! 🙂

    I have always been honest and that is a hard pill to swallow for many folks. And the older I get, the more honest I am.

    I have no time for bullshit.
    Kelly recently wrote…Be Enough Me: The Color YellowMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Kelly, I love that you said that! Life is too short, and bullshit is just not part of it. Yay!

  • August 30, 2011 angela

    Good for you for redefining a word that could have struck a nerve with someone less confident. I am sure that the people around you with the same work ethic appreciated your passion, drive, and perfectionism. High expectations shouldn’t be considered too much, but for some people, they are 🙁
    angela recently wrote…Moving Past RegretMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      I think some people did appreciate who I was at work. I did not let the word bitch define me, and I did not let what I did at work define me either. Those who knew, didn’t think of me as a bitch 🙂

  • August 30, 2011 Runnermom-jen

    Great post, Alison…I never would have expected this side of you…but I rather like it! You go, girl!
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…Places I LoveMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Yes, I’m not all rainbows and candy cane!! 🙂

  • August 30, 2011 Minky {stephanie}

    Well if that’s how we are defining bitch…sign me UP!

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Yay, go #TeamBitch!

  • August 30, 2011 Kyla

    I like that you re define it. But, I also find the word lazy. Seriously, you cannot think of a better word for me. Puhlease!

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      A substitute for the word lazy? Um – apathetic? 🙂

  • August 30, 2011 Cristi Comes

    Haha! I love this so much. A man like that wouldn’t be called a bitch, would he? You rock my friend.
    Cristi Comes recently wrote…#goodjobmeMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Yes, exactly! And thank you 🙂

  • August 30, 2011 Momma Teacher Lady

    Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that people who do a good job are often looked down upon by those who don’t. Lord forbid we draw attention to the fact that they’re doing a shitty job!
    Momma Teacher Lady recently wrote…What the $&!@ was that?????My Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      You’re absolutely right!!

  • August 30, 2011 Ann

    Alison – I think you and I would work well together! When I worked, I was there to WORK! Not chit-chat, be your buddy-buddy or hold your hand…but work! It drove me CRAZY when people would socialize for HOURS and then they were “too busy” to do any of the extra work that came their way. Guess who got the extra tasks…you got it? The office *ahem* b-word!
    Ann recently wrote…Banana Vanilla Honey French ToastMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Haha! I used to wonder how people who didn’t really work, kept their jobs AND got further rewarded with promotions etc. And the ones who slog just get called a bitch. Sigh.

  • August 30, 2011 therobotmommy

    In my work, if I’m not a bitch behind the scenes I’m dead. I won’t survive in my job and there’s always someone vulture-ing over my store.
    Then it comes to my kids… I’m a total bitch. Don’t mess with my children or you’ll see just what kind of bitch I can be.

    I’ll wear my bitch badge with pride.:)
    therobotmommy recently wrote…Just a typical Saturday Night or What Happens When No One’s Looking.My Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Go you!! Yes, when it comes to my son, I’m a Mama Bear too! Go #TeamBitch!

  • August 30, 2011 Mrs. Weber

    This is such an awesome post, written extremely well! Heck yes, then I am a bitch, too!
    Mrs. Weber recently wrote…Fresh from the Garden Pasta SaladMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Lauren! #GoTeamBitch!

  • August 30, 2011 Brittany {Mommy Words}

    Amen! I love your definition and I totally think that when we demand high standards of ourselves and others as women we are labelled bitches. I will be a bitch with you. And you…you are enough. You rock!
    Brittany {Mommy Words} recently wrote…The Beauty in BloggingMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Thank you Brittany, it means a lot to me for you to read and comment, truly. We bitches must stand together, always. 🙂

  • August 30, 2011 My Inner Chick

    –Mama Alison,
    Women with a strong “voice” are labled “Bitches.”
    Men with a strong voice are labled “Successful.”
    Um, something doesn’t mesh here.
    Great post. x
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Naughty Sexy CrepesMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      You are so right!! Time for us bitches to call them out, right?

  • August 30, 2011 The Working Momaholic

    I love “I would not let a word define me…I would rather define the word.”

    This is my first time checking your blog out on my computer rather than my phone via twitter. Looks great!!
    The Working Momaholic recently wrote…Be Enough Me: Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.My Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      Thank you, glad to have you here! 🙂

  • August 30, 2011 Lola

    I LOVE this! I’m a bitch too. But the old definition. It’s fine by me. Nice is boring. Bores me to tears. By the way, I refer to ALL of my friends as bitches and whores. So from here on in? All correspondence with you will begin with HEY BITCH! Or WHASSUP WHORE? Is this okay with you?
    Lola recently wrote…Lola WOOTS!My Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      I prefer bitch to whore 😉

      • August 31, 2011 Lola

        Done and done.

        Lola recently wrote…Lola WOOTS!My Profile

  • August 30, 2011 Aleta

    I don’t get called Bitch that often, but when I do, I imagine that it’s well earned and I won’t feel bad about it 🙂
    Aleta recently wrote…The ABCs of MeMy Profile

    • August 30, 2011 Alison

      I absolutely do not feel bad about being called a bitch – by my definition 🙂

  • August 30, 2011 Lady Jennie

    I don’t think I’ve ever been called that – too far on the other end of the spectrum. I’m nice. It’s a double edged sword though.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…NappingMy Profile

  • August 31, 2011 Robin

    To my knowledge, I’ve never been called a bitch. But by your definition I certainly am one!
    Robin recently wrote…This I Believe – Guest Post By Yael SaarMy Profile

    • August 31, 2011 Alison

      It’s a good thing, not to have been called one 🙂

  • August 31, 2011 Hopes

    I don’t think I’ve ever been called a bitch to my face. Well, maybe once in middle school. I’m certain that I’ve been called a bitch behind my back.

    With your definition, I definitely need to work on my bitch-ness a bit more.

    LOVE this post!
    Hopes recently wrote…The Final CountdownMy Profile

    • August 31, 2011 Alison

      Glad you like it!!!

  • August 31, 2011 Elena

    Love the new definition…so much! (though for the record, I have probably been called a bitch several times by people with the old, less positive definition).
    Elena recently wrote…Crossing the Finish LineMy Profile

    • August 31, 2011 Alison

      It’s only because those people did not know the actual definition of the word 🙂

  • August 31, 2011 Carri

    EXACTLY. People say bitch like it’s a bad thing. I don’t think it is.
    Carri recently wrote…Visit Me at Cookie’s ChroniclesMy Profile

    • August 31, 2011 Alison

      Because we are awesome.

  • August 31, 2011 Sarcasm Goddess

    Why is it when women know what we want and aren’t afraid to after it we’re a bitch, but when men do it they’re assertive?

    • August 31, 2011 Alison

      Gender inequality will never end!

  • August 31, 2011 Jamie

    I often to refer to myself as BIC – Bitch in Charge. Lovingly of course!
    Jamie recently wrote…back to school supplies, SAHM styleMy Profile

    • August 31, 2011 Alison

      I love it – BIC!

  • September 1, 2011 alisha

    i could possibly be just as big of a bitch as you, my friend!

    next time, “you could be something if you tried” is a fantastic come-back.

    • September 1, 2011 Alison

      THAT, is a fantastic comeback!

  • September 1, 2011 jackie

    By your definition, I am definitely a bitch! Love it!
    jackie recently wrote…Pour Your Heart Out: Mean mommyMy Profile

    • September 1, 2011 Alison

      Thank you!

  • September 2, 2011 Leighannn

    Good for you Alison!
    I get called a lot of things in my line of work and all just because of the characteristics you describe!
    I stand up for myself, I am determined, I demand more from myself and the people I work with.
    Too bad we didn’t have people like us running the country, we might not be in such a bad state!
    Leighannn recently wrote…You Want More?My Profile

    • September 2, 2011 Alison

      I agree, WE should be running the country/ world/ universe!

  • December 6, 2011 Josephine Hicks

    EXACTLY. Time for us bitches to call them out, right? i got the job done well, my customers loved me (and i have awards to prove it) and i could still make people laugh.
    Josephine Hicks recently wrote…Gout TipsMy Profile

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