Category: Health and Wellness

To Let Die: COVID-19 and the Banalization of Evil

The course of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a disturbing paradox as to how we deal with the disease. The two countries with the highest incidence and mortality statistics – the United States and Brazil – are the same places where there are large groups mobilizing against social distancing, mainly because of the actions of the… Read more →

Farmers’ Almanacs and Folk Remedies: The Role of Almanacs in Nineteenth-Century Popular Medicine

The Farmer’s Almanac has always been a staple book in my grandmother’s rural North Carolina household. Before deciding when she should plant her garden or what seeds she should put in the ground, she consults the almanac. She and her friends plan the community hog-killing by the moon phases in the almanac, believing that the… Read more →

Makers of Living, Breathing History: The Material Culture of Homemade Facemasks

Ten days into shelter-in-place orders after my kids’ schools closed, my family and I gathered around the table, staring at a mystery machine. The serendipitous early birthday gift from my mother-in-law – a sewing machine – had been meant for my sabbatical dream of learning to sew. Now, the material I had snagged from a… Read more →

From Alfred Fournier to Anthony Fauci: Targeting Public Health Messages to Teens

Communication about the causes, effects, and prevention of COVID-19 is plentiful in the United States. Press briefings and congressional testimony have aired live; news stories offer highlights and guidance to the public. An increasing number of resources help parents talk with their young children about the pandemic, too. None of the media discussing COVID-19, however,… Read more →

BMI, Race, and Bodies: How Race Science Reemerges in the Unlikeliest of Places

The connection between Black female bodies and ill health, fatness, and inferiority marks the historical record on race and health. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a prominent contemporary marker of this linkage. While there are strong arguments for and against the contention that there is a causal connection between BMI and ideal health, these… Read more →

The Cruise Ship as Disease Heterotopia

We know the images: cruise ships with sick passengers searching for a place to dock or turned into off-shore quarantine sites as passengers and crew are not allowed to disembark. In the time of COVID-19, the cruise ship has become a harbinger of and a vector for contagion and death. This is not new. Cruise… Read more →

Making a Ruckus: Considering The Goop Lab

The six-episode series, The Goop Lab, launched in January on Netflix aiming to “explore ideas that may seem out there or too scary,” according to Goop’s chief content officer, Elise Loehnen. Goop is a “modern lifestyle brand” that covers everything from skincare to travel, but it has developed a reputation for focusing on controversial health… Read more →

Butter and the History of U.S. Dietary Guides since 1894

Creamy, sometimes salty, and optimistically yellow, butter is one of my favorite foods. It’s also a scientific and cultural barometer. For the first half of the twentieth century, nutritionists enthusiastically endorsed butter as a good source of energy and part of a healthy, moderate diet. Early government-issued food guides endorsed eating enough food, as public… Read more →

Cancer DIY: Gendered Politics, Colonialism, and the Circulation of Self-Sampling Screening Technologies in Canada

Innovative. Exciting. Easy. Painless. These are just some of the words used to describe the Delphi Screener — a sterile, plastic, syringe-like device that allows women to test themselves for cervical cancer. Requiring no training, speculum, or invasive gynecological exam, this novel technique was developed in 2015 by three Dutch gynecologists who wanted to design… Read more →

Mokgadi Caster Semenya v. The Patriarchy and its IAAF Minions

Caster Semenya first grabbed my attention in 2009 when she won the 800-meter race in Berlin — she bested her competition by over two full seconds and set a world-leading time for the year. Soon after her athletic successes, however, the sporting community challenged her sex/gender identity. The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) policy… Read more →