Category: Health and Wellness

The Essential Problem: Essential Workers Category and Vaccine Roll-Outs

In November, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared, “Racism is a threat to public health.” In doing so, the AMA finally stated outright what many of us in the humanities and social sciences have been saying for decades – “the primary drivers of racial health inequality are systemic and structural racism, racism and unconscious bias… Read more →

Breast Cancer Care: Sexism and Knowing versus Doing

A Rise in Unnecessary Breast Cancer Surgeries A troubling trend in breast cancer treatment has surgeons scratching their heads. Since the late 1990s, more women with cancer in one breast have been opting to have both breasts surgically removed. For women without a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, this procedure – contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM)… Read more →

Diners, Dudes, and Diets

It took me six months to dream up the title Diners, Dudes, and Diets (University of North Carolina Press, 2020). For anyone who’s ever watched Guy Fieri’s show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, my inspiration is likely pretty clear. As I researched gender and power in contemporary American food media, I spent years analyzing Fieri’s polarizing… Read more →

The Problem with Pandemic Pay

Since March, my mother has worked twelve- to fourteen-hour days, seven days a week, processing thousands of COVID-19 tests. As one of over 6,700 medical laboratory technologists working in Ontario, she works toward fulfilling the government’s quota of 16,000 tests per day. But my mother is not a stranger to long hours or the threat… Read more →

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 →