Monthly Archives: November 2011
My blog explores the connection between health and identity so I was thrilled when I read my friend's essay about how allergies forced her to give up an identity she had come to love. She is kind enough to let me post it here. When my allergy doc asked, “do you color your hair?” I initially felt flattered. The artistry of Scott, my beloved hairstylist of the past 15 years, often solicited such accolades. Instead, the question was one of many that she asked on the penultimate day of my patch test, a four-day diagnostic that aimed to uncover the reason my eyelids had begun swelling, deflating, cracking, and bleeding. The test involved having potentially allergenic substances dotted onto my back, from shoulders to waist, and waiting to see which provoked a reaction similar to that on my eyelids. Once we identified — and I avoided — these substances, said the doc, my eyelids would return to normal.
In 1940, Paul Popenoe, a eugenicist and marriage counselor wrote, “…feminists may be described as women who have inferiority complexes based on the fact of their sex.” Thirty-one years later, a group of feminists managed to overcome their inferiority complexes and penned the first issue of Our Bodies, Ourselves. The booklet provided information about women's health and sexuality and challenged the medical establishment to improve healthcare for women. Forty years and nine editions later, Our Bodies Ourselves (the organization) continues to promote women's health and rights in the U.S. and beyond. Women's health has enjoyed plenty of medical and political breakthroughs, but the path has been far from straightforward. Read on for some of the key milestones in women's health of the past 40 years.