Written by Emma Glassman-Hughes
This week, there were two stories that spoke to the epidemic of the women’s health taboo--AKA our lifeblood at THINX (lol...literally tho).
The first was Queen Chrissy Teigen, new mom and #1 Husband-Picker, who tweeted to the world how postpartum bleeding and incontinence (and the early onset use of adult diapers! YUM!) rapidly became a learn-by-doing situation in the week after her first birth. The second story was about a video by Argentinian activist group MACMA (shared by NowThis), meant to educate women about how to detect signs of breast cancer. Instead of using a woman’s breast to properly demonstrate the process, the group needed to demonstrate on man-boobs (moobs) because of the nipular censorship we all know and love that applies strictly to female breasts and not male breasts on social media. Both these stories invite us to ask, “HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO TAKE CARE OF OUR BODIES IF WE DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY DO OR WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE?!” *takes deep breath* *help*
As you can see, we take our women’s health taboos very seriously here at THINX.
There is a reason Chrissy Teigen didn’t know about postpartum bleeding and incontinence. The reason is shockingly simple and it’s the same reason so many women don’t know about alternative tools for menstrual hygiene: no one talks about these things. No one talks about what happens to a woman’s body as it progresses through life--from getting a period, to having an orgasm, to birthing a child, to going through menopause. These are all aspects of women’s health that are hidden away as carefully kept secrets in an effort to divorce female realities from the public sphere. But, as we’ve learned from righteous feminist scholars of the past like Carol Hanisch, the personal is political for all those who are oppressed; racially, sexually, ability-wise, etc. The lack of attention to our bodies and our needs in the public spheres affects and degrades the quality of our private lives. There is no line in the sand between what is private and what is public for women who don’t have control over our own bodies and sustained health.
The example of the moobs is similar to Chrissy’s: how hypocritical is it that in order to learn about a disease that disproportionately affects women, we have to learn about how to prevent it from a man? The illegality of a female body part and the legality of the corresponding male body part is one of the more explicit and digestible forms of sexism: men have access to knowledge and imagery about their bodies that women simply do not.
Another example? Our beloved PP. There is perhaps no clearer melding of the personal and political in a woman’s life than when Planned Parenthoods are systematically defunded at the state and federal levels, as they are currently. These facilities provide life-saving care unavailable at most other basic clinics, but because of politics, we seem to be willing to jeopardize a woman’s health.
Culture-shifting women like Chrissy Teigen and culture-shifting media like NowThis (and, like, culture-shifting underwear brands, amirite ladies!?) hold the keys to a future where women have equal access to healthcare, health information, support, and guidance as men do. Until then, I suppose we’ll have to continue wearing adult diapers and fondling moobs for likes.