black-women's-health

Did you ever wonder why so many sisters look so angry? Why we walk like we’ve got bricks in our bags and will slash and curse you at the drop of a hat? It’s because stress is hemmed into our dresses, pressed into our hair, mixed into our perfume and painted on our fingers. Stress from the deferred dreams, the dreams not voiced; stress from always being at the bottom, from never being thought beautiful, from always being taken for granted, taken advantage of; stress from being a black woman in white America. Much of this stress is caused by how the world outside us, relates to us. We cannot control that world, at times we can change it but we can assert agency in our own lives so that the outside world cannot over-determine our responses, cannot make our lives a dumping ground for stress.
—  Opal Palmer Adisa, “Rocking in the Sunlight: Stress and Black Women" 
A recent study on black women in America delivered a mixed, even contradictory message. The report from the Black Women’s Roundtable found that while black women in the United States are making strides in education and business and affecting political trends with stellar voter turnout numbers, they remain more vulnerable to health problems and violence than any other group. Their strength at the polls is not reflected in elected positions. So, the situation is — at the same time — hopeful and frustrating, many steps forward with persistent, historical hurdles still blocking the way.
What is at first glance confusing makes perfect sense, though. Despite the reality show image of sassy, in control and intimidating black women taking charge and needing no help from anyone, the American story is consistent with the study. It is a tale of black women as invisible, misjudged and resilient through it all –integral and nurturing, yet set apart. They have survived, thrived and led, in spite of obstacles that have often kept them vulnerable, a term seldom used to describe black women.
— 

Powerful yet vulnerable black women: A contradiction rooted in history

To raise awareness about the 80% of black women who suffer from fibroids, we’d love for you to upload selfies and other photos of yourself in a white dress in the comments section. And wear a white dress TOMORROW, Thursday, July 10, in commemoration of Fibroids Awareness Month — first in Georgia and eventually nationwide. In our 3-part series on fibroids, check out organizations fighting fibroids and read why Tanika Gray Valbrun founded The White Dress Project: We CAN Wear White: #FightFibroids #WeCanWearWhite #FierceHealth

Confession

I saw a confession earlier about stereotypes in the medical field. I can totally relate. When I was sixteen, I had a concern about missing my period and I told my doctor that I was not sexually active and that I’ve had a normal period for 7 years. They did not believe me. They made my mom leave the room and asked me repeatedly if I was pregnant. I told them that to get get pregnant you have to have sex and I have not and to prove it to you I will take a test. Test was negative. Then they made me out to be a liar and said that I was making it up and that I had to be depressed because I was a shy quiet black girl.) Three months later I found out my missed periods were caused by cysts because it burst.

It’s Women’s History Month, and today we’re honoring Byllye Avery, who has dedicated her life to improving the health of African-American women. She founded the Black Women’s Health Imperative — an organization dedicated to promoting physical, mental, and spiritual health for African-American women.

Learn more about her work >>

Mental illness portrayed in movies, documentaries & tv series:

MOVIES:

  • As Good as It Gets (1997) | obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • Girl, Interrupted (1999) | depression & borderline personality disorder TW: suicide
  • Prozac Nation (2001) | depression TW: self-harm
  • Thirteen (2003) | borderline personality disorder TW: self-harm
  • A Beautiful Mind (2004) | paranoid schizophrenia
  • The Aviator (2004) | obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • The Butterfly Effect (2004) | dissociative amnesia TW: child pornography
  • Black Swan (2010) | obsessive-compulsive personality disorder & anorexia nervosa TW: vomit
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010) | anxiety & depression TW: vomit
  • Medianeras (2011) | agoraphobia, claustrophobia & depression
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) | post traumatic stress disorder & depression TW: child sexual abuse
  • Men, Women & Children (2014) | depression & anorexia nervosa

DOCUMENTARIES:

  • Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (2006) 
  • Elena (2012) | depression & eating disorder
  • Amy (2015) | borderline personality disorder, depression & eating disorder
  • Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015) | depression

SERIES:

  • Breaking Bad (2008-2013) | panic attack disorder (Hank Schrader)
  • Shameless US (2011-) | agoraphobia (Sheila Jackson) & bipolar disorder (Monica & Ian Gallagher)
  • My Mad Fat Diary (2013-2015) | anxiety & eating disorder (Rachel Earl)

___________

FEEL FREE TO ADD MORE! Make sure to explain which mental illnesses are portrayed and if appropriate include trigger warnings (TW).

crunkfeministcollective.com
How to Not Die: Some Survival Tips for Black Women Who Are Asked to Do Too Much
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” –Audre (the) Lorde High blood pressure runs in my family. I...

“We have to resist injustice and talk back to it, but not at the expense of being well. I don’t want to give myself over to the struggle. I don’t want to be superwoman in my twenties, strong woman in my thirties, and suffocated in my forties. We can’t let the work (and there is much work to be done) take us out. We have to be mindful about how we engage others and ourselves, especially when it comes to obligations and expectations of our time, minds, bodies, thoughts, experiences and hearts. I don’t want to give myself away. And the labor of love that is my life is not free, nor is it worth my emotional/physical/mental/spiritual health. I am disinterested in being a martyr.” 

‪#‎BlackJoyMatters‬
‪#‎BlackMentalHealthMatters‬
‪#‎SelfCareIsPoliticalWarfare‬
‪#‎ThePersonalIsPolitical‬

vimeo

this documentary is screening saturday 10/18 for free + i definitely need to go!! i’m sort of amazed there’s nothing tagged about this on tumblr already

“Through the use of first person narrative and rare archival images, this documentary provides a moving glimpse of the women who have skillfully brought scores of children across the threshold of existence. Narrated by Phylicia Rashad, this evocative and passionate film celebrates women who have committed themselves to holistic answers amidst powerful misconceptions about the practice of midwifery and virulent opposition from practitioners of Western medicine.” (x)

African American women find wellness in “Prime Time Sister Circles” at AAMP

FREE, 13-week, interactive wellness seminars will take place in four venues across the city. The workshops are designed to reverse negative health trends in African American women and their families

The nationally recognized Prime Time Sister Circles have launched again, beginning Wednesday September 4, at 6 PM, at the African American Museum located at 7th and Arch Streets. More than 100 women from around the Philadelphia region are expected to be on hand signing up to participate in the Prime Time Sister Circles, an evidence-based, socially innovative intervention program designed to improve the lifestyle of African American women aged 40-70. The women will sign up to participate in the free, two hour seminars that will meet weekly, in four different locations from September until December. 

The interactive lessons will focus on stress management techniques, increased physical activity, and improved nutrition. The classes are led by specially trained women from the Philadelphia community who are paid a stipend.  Last year’s inaugural Prime Time Sister Circles are being hailed a huge success having encouraged more than 100 graduates to adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes healthier food choices, and portion control. 

Of the more than 100 participants, 68 percent lost weight and all of the women saw significant decreases in stress and hypertension levels. That is why organizers for the Prime Time Sister Circles are returning to replicate and expand the program in Philadelphia so other women can benefit.

In addition to recruiting new participants to the Prime Time Sister Circles, tonight’s event will also include free health screenings. Every woman who signs up will have their weight, height, blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI) measurements taken. These numbers will be used as a baseline reading for the 13-week Prime Time Sister Circles program and will be re-measured every two weeks to show successes. The African American Museum is one of four locations where the Prime Time Sister Circles will meet and the museum is also a sponsor of the event along with Philadelphia’s Black Women’s Health Alliance (http://www.pbwha.org). The Prime Time Sister Circles are free and open to any African American woman aged 40-70 who is interested in improving her own health  and  at the same time, reversing the negative health trends that are plaguing the African-American Community. 

Keep reading

I was the student who never gave anyone any problems. I was the child who brought home good grades, and I was the quiet, shy, introverted young girl on the block who stayed out of harm’s way. I was also the kid who came from Panamanian immigrants who grew up living a poverty-stricken life and lacked resources until they came to America. I came from parents who grew up with the belief that feeding your family was your first priority, so how you “felt” was irrelevant –unless your feelings were going to provide food and shelter. I come from a cultural and ethnic belief that problems are to be dealt with on your own; the idea of seeking therapy was frowned upon and not respected. You don’t pay people to handle your problems; you handle them on your own.

“For emotional eating, my advice is to find out what are you craving — and substitute it with something else that has a similar taste. For example if you want sugar, get an apple or an orange; or make your own juice with ice and fresh fruit in a blender,” said Ledisi in an interview with Fierce For Black Women. Here’s more about how the eight-time Grammy nominee revamped her lifestyle to drop four dress sizes: http://bit.ly/OsSVG6. #FierceNutrition

Everyone knows how much I loves me some Beyonce.

So last week when she dropped a unexpected new single with a video, performed in front of the whole country during the superbowl half-time show, AND announced a tour that would be coming to Chicago all within a matter of 48 hours I was in awe.  It was all so… well… Beyonce.

Beyonce literally changes the game every single time she drops new music. And it is wonderful to witness.

On top of all this Beyonce magic, the song itself seems like it’s on par to become a Black girl’s national anthem. “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros”….. ” “I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.” She said these lines surrounded by images of a drowning post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, Black Lives Matter movement imagery, and Black cultural tradition symbolism.

I immediately recognized “Formation” as Beyonce’s personal protest anthem: the media has not been very kind to Blue Ivy’s natural hair or Jay-Z’s wide nose and full lips. And American political systems historically have dehumanized and devalued black lives. Here was Beyonce, I admit unexpectedly, making a stance this hatred of her family and her community.

And to add gas to the fire of Beyonce’s protest song, the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary happily coincided with the 5oth anniversary of one of the most revolutionary Black protest movements in recent history–The Black Panther Party. So Beyonce used her platform to pay homage to the Black Panthers by dressing up in the black leather, black berets, and afros that were the uniform of the Black Panther Party and perform her protest anthem during Black History Month at that.

But the backlash to this celebration of self has been swift by people all too eager to ignore the demands of respect.

A politician in Canada has publicly considered banning Beyonce from entering Canada. The UK has banned her song and video from the radio and television. Rudolph Guiliani dismissed her performance as anti-police, unprofessional and disrespectful. And other’s derided it as divisive and evidence of “cultural decay,” whatever that means.

Beyonce’s response? A simple, “I wanted people to feel proud and have love for themselves.”

But how does wanting people to feel good about themselves get interpreted and vilified as a political controversy worthy of being banned?

The answer: Very easily if you’re a Black woman.

To be a Black woman is a beautiful thing. But it also means that you are constantly mocked, under-appreciated, and copied without recognition by mainstream society. You are a caricature. You are told that you are too dark, too big, too loud, too bossy, too domineering. You are told you that you should be more like other women. You are told that we should be loyal to others, but not to expect loyalty in return.

And all of these messages serve to make us feel less than. When little black toddlers are misaligned in the media for having “too nappy hair” and being “ugly” physical features, we know the world devalues us very early. It is psychological warfare and the toll it takes on your mental health is costly.

But if we are to love ourselves– and we absolutely must–we have to know that we are OK just as we are. We cannot alter ourselves enough to make other people appreciate us, nor should we. We know from history that this strategy simply doesn’t work. Those of us who have tried to lighten our skin, surgically alter our bodies and faces, educate ourselves into respectability know that this never compels those that devalue us to see our worth and beauty.

We cannot wait for other people to “get” us because they never will.  We must be ourselves right now.

To me this is the lesson to take away from Beyonce’s “Formation.” Name and claim your worth.  Know your worth despite what others say.   Celebrate and appreciate yourself. Even those things that you have been taught to be ashamed of.

We have to continue to create environments, cultural products and perspectives, and support systems that validate ourselves and our work. This is how we protect and promote our mental health.We create healthy, inclusive, and affirmative spaces to protect us from the onslaught of mainstream media and values.

This is our task and no one will do it for us.

http://abundantlifepractice.com/the-backlash-from-formation-and-what-that-means-for-black-womens-mental-health/

reproductiveawakening.com
Reproductive Awakening: Narratives of Agency in Black America: An Exhibition

Designed around an exhibition featuring women artists, the project explores the historical, social and political significance of Black women’s struggle in the U.S. for reproductive autonomy and the impact of Black midwives in their communities. It focuses on birthing traditions and abortion rights through the 20th century to the present and celebrates an evolving advocacy that sustains the network of midwives serving African-American women.

Highlights include the keynote address by feminist activist, author and attorney Carol Downer on Saturday, October 4th. She’ll address ways in which European “witch” burning beginning in the 12th century, correlate with the demonizing of women healers and the economic and political monopoly that is modern U. S. healthcare. There will be screenings of Bringin’in Da Spirit, We Always Resist: Trust Black WomenA Period Piece and other films. Panels and workshops include those on midwifery, menses, menopause, “Placenta Medicine” “Choices, Rights, Autonomy,” and more.

Other exhibition-related programming includes The Red-Tent experience, (with one for preteens and teens as well), workshops on female sexual anatomy and holistic healing and wellness. Some events are free of charge, while others carry an admission fee. See reproductiveawakening.com for the full October schedule and a forecasting of November’s events.

A team of women and one man were brought together by Kinyofu Mlimwengu to develop and produce “Reproductive Awakening” for the community.

“This project was conceived as I developed my own awareness of the illusions surrounding women’s choices in reproductive health,” said Mlimwengu.  “It appears most women lack basic knowledge about their bodies. We become subject to medical and political opinion and judgment, none of which is affirming to women. It’s time to relearn what we lost through patriarchy, capitalism, and racism and effect change from within.”

The compact Museum of Women’s Resistance is located at 279 Empire Blvd between Nostrand and Rogers Avenues in Brooklyn. It’s housed at the headquarters of Black Women’s Blueprint, a civil and human rights organization that is co-sponsoring the “Reproductive Awakening” project.

When is enough enough?

Above is Jennifer Hudson on June 14, 2011 at the second annual amfAR Inspiration Gala at MoMA here in NYC. 

When she first revealed her new body to the world, Jennifer Hudson looked healthy and cheery with a new lease on life. Key word, healthy.

External image

(Hudson when she first revealed her svelte body)

As with any curvacious celeb that drops a few pounds, it seems Hudson has inevitably fallen into the temper trap that is body distortion. The public is shocked at the transformation and develops a slight obsession with it - rewarding the celebrity with endorsements, placing them on the Beautiful People list, and taking them seriously as an entertainer. 

Speaking of, she just landed a deal with Penguin Books to pen a weight loss memoir

What say you? Do you think JHud has lost too much?

eurekalert.org
Experiences of racism linked to adult-onset asthma in African-American women

According to a new study from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, African-American women who reported more frequent experiences of racism had a greater likelihood of adult-onset asthma compared to women who reported less frequent experiences.