Thursday, February 18, 2016
What makes you beautiful? Some would say it’s the color of your hair or its texture; the color of your eyes, or the subtle hew of your complexion. Eighty percent of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful but do not see their own beauty.Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, society has and to continues to formulate the essence of what makes up beauty. Some of society’s ‘norms’ on beauty are dependent on one’s weight, race, and age; girls are affected more by these societal guidelines than boys. Nine out of 10 girls want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance; only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful.
A study evaluating self esteem and body weight in adolescent girls, showed strong associations between girls with higher BMIs and increased risk of low self-esteem. Girls who consider themselves to be over weight have also demonstrated higher risk of depression.
Society’s depiction of beauty is also heavily reliant on race, e.g., light, dark, or fair complexion; ‘African’ or ‘European’ features. It’s these critical self-evaluations that dilute the richness of ones heritage, ones ancestry and the eloquence of someone’s unique characteristics.
The notion of a ‘youthful look’ has also made the ‘impressionable list’ of ‘accepted’ beauty. Studies show that women over the age of 50 still feel the pressure of ‘keeping up’ with their appearance, more so than men in the same age bracket. Results from a Dove research study showed that beauty-related pressure increases, and body confidence decreases, as girls and women grow older; 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful.
In a world made up so many cultures, history and traditions, a melting pot per se, how can we standardize beauty and how far are we willing to go to fit its ‘suggested’ mold? We are saturated with advertisement, i.e., media, internet, billboards dictating the guideline to beauty. Since 2012, beauty-related sales increased by 14%, $392 million on revenues from make-up alone. Nearly half of women in the United States feel that wearing makeup makes them feel in control; 82% of women believe wearing make-up makes them feel more self-confidence, while 86% of women find that wearing makeup improves their self-image.
Luckily, we can, with guided effort and support, seek healthier, more gratifying techniques to relinquish and embrace our beauty. Experts recommend we focus on techniques that help generate a deeper sense of self-confidence, i.e., focus on what you have NOT on what you don’t, don’t forget to smile, spend some time with yourself, eat healthy nutritious food, work out and practice ‘radical’ acceptance, just to name of a few. Beauty is beyond the topical surface that society tends to gravitate towards, it is among many things, utter acceptance of oneself.
For more information:
Office of Urban Health Equity, Education & Research
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Thursday, February 4, 2016
If you attended last Thursday’s WHEP seminar on Unconscious Bias in Medicine, you engaged in thought-provoking interactive discussions about these two TED talks and their relationship to clinical medicine:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBow84OuZ-E (Dr. Tim Horner)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNhcY6fTyBM (Dr. Camara Jones)
What creates unconscious bias?
Unconscious bias is reinforced systemically through society and is culturally rooted. Segregated communities create different economic landscapes, which influence jobs, experiences, and what people in privileged communities (those with a Eurocentric history) view as “normal”. The media rarely portrays communities of color in a positive light, thus generating fear of violence in underprivileged areas. In short, people of color have a limited voice.
Dr. Horner's talk illustrated how unconscious bias is neurologically rooted in fear - specifically, linking safety to bias. This starts with parental influence in early childhood and complicates our ability to recognize unconscious bias.
In the Gardener’s Tale, Dr. Jones described the concept of institutional bias or racism in our society as differential access to goods, services and opportunities by race, codified in our institutions of custom, practice and law. It is the gardener who has control over resources with the power to decide and act. According to the students, potential gardeners within the field of medical practice included medical schools/admissions, government (local / state / federal), physicians, hospitals systems and insurance companies.
What is the relationship between bias/racism and health outcomes?
Noting that it is very difficult for individuals to become aware of their own unconscious bias, there were a number of suggestions for improving awareness and reducing bias:
- try to distinguish between quick judgments based on “experience” vs. those made because of unconscious bias. Students stressed the importance of differentiating between a diagnosis based on race/color/gender vs. individual predisposition to certain conditions. They felt that physicians should be more attentive to patients who are different from them, try to better relate to them, be aware of favoritism and common assumptions, and spend appropriate/equal time with every patient
- read articles on the subject – become knowledgeable
- “test” yourself to assess your unconscious bias – for example, reflect on uncomfortable situations and ask yourself “Why do I feel this way?”
- understand your community and its diversity instead of categorizing people strictly based on race / color
- recognize how language barriers can lead to assumptions on the part of providers and result in missed information
Attendees also came up with a series of questions to pose to and discuss with a select panel of practicing physicians on Tuesday, February 9 during the second part of this important, provocative seminar. It should be a very interesting evening. Join us!!
Judith Wolf, MD
Associate Director, WHEP