Penny Dee’s book, Kweens, Happiness Decoded, is the result of years and years of intimate conversations with women, getting to the truth of life for women today.

Some of the deepest and most honest conversations women have aren’t with their husbands, or even their best friends, but with the woman they’re entrusting their skin to. Picture this: a warm, quiet space, a comfortable bed and you, with your eyes closed, discussing everything from your mother’s latest exploits to why you feel old and anxious. It’s easier to be honest where there’s no judgement, where there’s no likelihood of the recipient of your truths meeting your mother, and where that same recipient has indeed heard it all before, again, and again, and again.

Penny Dee is the owner of DPC Clinic in Cheadle, Stockport, where loyal clients go for treatments that give skin back some of the lost vitality of youth.

Great British Life: Kweens, Happiness Decoded, is available on AmazonKweens, Happiness Decoded, is available on Amazon “The idea for the book came from working in this clinic for so many years,” Penny says. “My clients almost all fall into the 30-60 age range, so life experiences are similar, despite differences in income or careers or family situations, so many have faced the same challenges in life, and it became frustratingly apparent that whether my client is 60 or 30, they’ve come up against the same issues – nothing has really changed in that 30-year gap.

"A publisher I know had been listening to my podcast (My Hores Are Moaning, a podcast looking at the trials and tribulations of menopause, which Penny records with her good friend Tracy St Clair) and asked me if I’d thought about writing a book. She asked what I was passionate about, and I knew: women.

“I started to write about the most common topics of conversation I have with my clients all the time, and the big one to start with was mothers, and familial relationships, and within this comes the sandwich generation – that's a big one, women who still have children at home, yet are now finding themselves caring for their parents, too, or even their parents-in-law. It seems to mostly be women who have to juggle all these complications; I hear it so often and it’s so stressful, this natural assumption that women pick up the pieces, and I wanted to look into why that is.

“I also have a look at why there’s still so much pressure on women to have children. Why do women want children? Why is it in 2023 that it’s still the women who do the majority of the caring, who put their careers on hold, who go part-time? There’s still a gender pay gap, and childcare is extortionately expensive, and women end up paying for this in one way or another, because it makes no sense for the main earner – most commonly the man – to reduce their hours. It’s a cultural acceptance issue, again. I argue that women must be very sure why they want children and if they do, to make sure they demand more – from their partner, from their family, from their workplace.

“I thought this work was done. I thought my generation had fixed this, but in all conversations I have had, it’s clear that all the hard fought for rights that we’ve got in the workplace, they recede the moment a baby is on the way.”

From here Penny looks at the workplace, and the differences between what women seem prepared to accept and what their male colleagues will accept. "How do we ever know what we are earning compared to our colleagues when pay grades can have such massive band differences within them? One client was approached by a headhunter, who asked what her package was and, when told, advised her she was 30 per cent below the market rate. How is that wage parity?”

Great British Life: Penny wants women to start challenging the status quo againPenny wants women to start challenging the status quo again

These conversations happen every week in Penny’s consulting room, so it’s no wonder she’s become somewhat of an activist.

“I did go down a few rabbit holes,” she laughs, “but everything I hear just keeps on proving that it’s actually getting harder for women, not easier. Health, family, the preponderance of porn, social media – it's not a level playing field for women, it never has been, but why isn’t it getting better?

“I just want women to think, and not take everything as a given. I want women to open their eyes, and push back.

“Who created the rules? Who do they benefit? Why must we adhere to them?”

The book is by no means a diatribe for women’s rights, but in an era when, somehow, feminism has become a dirty word, it’s no surprise that Penny has met with some abuse.

“I use the words ‘Adult Human Females’ on the book cover,” she says, “which is the dictionary definition of the word woman, but it seems that’s somehow offensive, as it excludes trans-women. My book is the result of many, many conversations with women, not with trans-women – I have no experience or authority there, so cannot comment on their behalf on what their lives look like. I have transitioning clients, many over the years, but our conversations aren’t the same. I am not going to apologise for being a woman, for writing for other women. My trans clients have had nothing but positivity for me, and if anybody transitioning to be a woman wants to read my book, they’re encouraged and welcome to do so.”

Kweens, Happiness Decoded is available on Amazon from £7.99