Tan, Wet, Happy, and Fat?

By Cheryl Lemus

When you look at old photographs of yourself, there are many that deserve to be burned and others that inspire a giggle or two. The constant shifts in fashion have meant that you may have stashed away some unflattering pictures that include neon colors, ugly prom and bridesmaid dresses, polyester, big hair, shaved heads, and velour jogging suits. A lot of these pictures spur laughter and some just leave you puzzled and wondering, “why in hell was I wearing that?!?” Then there are those you may be hiding for one reason or another: if you are blinking and look like you’re drunk or you just woke up after a night of partying and your best friend decided to capture your messed up hair, smeared lipstick, and bloodshot eyes as a Kodak moment. Those are not too pleasant, but after a while, although you might not show them readily, you chuckle when you look at them. However, there are pictures that never see the light of day. These pictures can be of anything, but I venture to guess that many of the photographs you bury remain hidden because you believe you look fat.

The Battle of the Sexes in Health Care?

By Ashley Baggett

In the past few decades, women’s health issues have risen to the forefront of public awareness campaigns. Most people recognize the pink ribbon as a symbol of the fight against breast cancer, for example. Due to increased public health campaigns, more women now visit their doctors for routine Pap smears to detect cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer, reducing the number of women who die from cervical cancer by fifty percent over the past forty years. Various programs seek to provide women with everything from emotional support for survivors of gender-based violence to prenatal care. But what about men’s health?

Sunday Morning Medicine

By Jacqueline Antonovich

-Astronauts kept safe by bra designers?
-1930s public health film on bathing and dressing children.
-‘Mother’s Little Helper’ turns 50.
-1970s pictorial on teen pregnancy.
-Study reveals new health benefit of anti-depressants.
-Stalin and Churchill – drinking buddies?

A Historian’s Guide to Summer – The TV Edition

By Jacqueline D. Antonovich

Ah, summer. There is so much to love about this bewitching season. The long, warm evenings on the porch, the tinkling of ice in a cold beverage, vacations to exotic locations, and a slower pace of life that seems to magically rejuvenate the soul. I think F. Scott Fitzgerald stated it best when he wrote, “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” Who am I kidding? Summer is also about kids out of school and underfoot, the dreaded bathing suit shopping trip, vacations to not-so-exotic locations (Dollywood, anyone?), and temperatures so hot and muggy that certain portions of skin stick together abnormally. Let’s be honest, summertime is a mixed blessing.

Cross-Dressing: An American Pastime

By Tiffany K. Wayne

Whether we like it or not, clothes and fashion are important markers of status, class, gender, and sexual identity. Just ask any high school student who is trying to present their own personal style or identity and comes up against the rules and judgments of parents, teachers, and society. Most schools today have dress codes regulating the length of skirts and banning t-shirts with offensive images and drug or gang references. Some schools also have gendered dress codes, such as the Virginia school which prohibits “any clothing worn by a student that is not in keeping with a student’s gender and causes a disruption and/or distracts others from the educational process or poses a health or safety concern.”

Do No Harm: Intersex Surgeries and the Limits of Certainty

By Elizabeth Reis

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Informed Choice have filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS), Greenville Hospital System, the Medical University of South Carolina, and several medical personnel for allowing physicians to remove the atypical genitals of a 16-month-old toddler because that child, in the state’s custody at the time, was born with an intersex condition. M.C. had been identified male at birth, but his genitals were sufficiently indeterminate that surgeons removed his ambiguous phallus, a testis, and testicular tissue on one gonad, and surgically created an ostensible approximation of female genitals. The suit asserts that there was no medical need for this surgery, which was meant to permanently “fix” this child and turn him into an unequivocal girl, but it did him more harm than good. M.C., now eight years old, feels more like a boy, lives as a boy, and heartbreakingly has asked his mother, “When will I get my penis?”

The Jolie Treatment

By Cheryl Lemus

In the past few days, Americans (and I am sure many people around the globe) have read Angelina Jolie’s startling announcement that she recently underwent a preventative double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery (and as I understand she will also have her ovaries removed). Like most people, I was awestruck by her bravery, her straightforwardness, and her honesty. As a scholar of medicine and gender and women’s history, I was instantly struck by how her melodic narrative described her agency as both a patient and a woman. Her op-ed also conveyed a dream of perfect medical care, family support, and clarity in making a very profound decision that would have a major impact on her future health. But as much as I marveled at her decisions (as did so many other individuals), my academic training immediately brought a level of cynicism that I could not easily dismiss (and I am not alone). I almost instantly began to think about Angelina Jolie the celebrity, not Angelina Jolie the common woman.

Psychiatric Nursing at St. James Hospital

By Sandra Trudgen Dawson

I’ve been a little hesitant to write a blog about some of my experiences in a psychiatric hospital in 1980s Britain for a number of reasons. I am aware that those who suffer mental illnesses are some of the most vulnerable members of society. This was definitely true in the mid-1980s in Britain. I write this with the utmost respect for the patients I came into contact with and the nursing staff charged with their care.