Tag: medicine

Renée Zellweger, Isabelle Dinoire, and the Stakes for Changing the Face

On October 20, 2014, Renée Zellweger attended the Elle Women in Hollywood event, her first appearance in the public eye after a long hiatus. She looked different; people do, over time. Most people do; some work very hard to continue to look exactly the same. Zellweger’s face was exhaustively discussed, dissected, and criticized in the… Read more →

The Trauma of Displacement: How History Can Help Us Understand the Refugee Experience

In February of 1915, a fifty-five year old woman, who we will call Ella, was admitted to London’s Colney Hatch Asylum, exhibiting symptoms that doctors defined as “mental stress.” For the past three weeks, she was, according to her case notes, “noisy and restless … she gets little sleep … it is difficult to persuade… Read more →

What’s Truly Outrageous About Intersex?

On August 5, the World News Daily Report published an article that has been circulating on my Facebook newsfeed every day since: “Hermaphrodite Impregnates Self, Gives Birth to Hermaphrodite Twins.” Never mind that at the bottom of the webpage, the World News Daily Report publishes the following disclaimer: that it “assumes all responsibility for the… Read more →

The Magic Liquid that Guarantees the Life of the Infant: Breast Milk as a Superfood

“Try squirting milk on that.” I stopped keeping track of how many times someone recommended healing my newborn’s ailments with a direct application of breast milk. From the time my husband cut a nail too short to a slightly more serious case of pink eye, my friends and family had come to regard breast milk… Read more →

Book Review: Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital

America’s oldest public hospital started as a tiny, one-room infirmary in a New York City almshouse in 1736. Two hundred and eighty-one years later, it’s a sprawling hospital center complex with almost 900 beds, a massive outpatient service, dozens of adult and pediatric specialties, and medical care provided in over 200 languages. David Oshinsky narrates… Read more →

Metaphors and Malignancy in Senator McCain’s Cancer Diagnosis

When my grandmother died from a mucosal melanoma (a form of skin cancer) in 2015, I sat around with my mother and my aunts talking through the wording of the email we were going to send round to her friends and colleagues to inform them of her death. We rejected the obvious line, “She died… Read more →

The Black Politics of Eugenics

Eugenics is still a dirty word. It makes us think about science gone horribly wrong. It reminds us of the ghosts of Nazis past. The specter of eugenics is invoked when discussing new genetic technologies, often serving as a warning that engineering humanity can go too far. It wasn’t always like this. For much of… Read more →

Eyes of the Beholder: The Public Health Service Reports on Trachoma in White Appalachia and Indian Country

In 1912, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) set out to survey trachoma rates among two populations: Appalachian Whites in Kentucky and American Indians. I knew about the American Indian survey from my dissertation research on Native health in the early twentieth century. But when I read the report from that study, I was… Read more →

The Miseries and Heartbreak of Backstreet Abortions: Before and After Roe

In 1967, a group of clergy in New York City founded the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (CCS) to “bring light and hope to the thousands of people who suffer — usually in quiet, and sometimes in death — the miseries and heartbreak of backstreet abortions.” In an era of back-alley butchers, prohibitively high-priced abortions… Read more →

Back to the Back Alley? Abortion Rights and Realities in the Trump Era

On the first day of his presidency, Donald Trump reinstated the global gag rule on abortion. This is no great surprise; Trump is certainly not the first Republican president to restrict access to abortion when assuming office. Still, there is something different about the Trump election and administration: already, of course, when it comes to… Read more →