Open a medical textbook or health brochure and more often than not you will find images of thin, hairless, able-bodied, young, white figures.
But now a campaign has been launched to accurately reflect the diversity of women and their bodies, with the goal of helping all women access the healthcare they need.
In a new digital gallery, titled The Reframing Revolution, designers have created dozens of new illustrations for distribution in the medical field, showing demonstrations of the following on a variety of skin tones:
It comes after a photo of a black foetus, created by illustrator Chidiebere Sunday Ibe, went viral on social media last year.
The latest project was led by the women’s community app Peanut and informed by doctors and medical illustrators.
They worked with Dr. Somi Javaid, obstetrician-gynecologist, surgeon and founder of HerMD, and the team at Biotic Artlab, a visual communication studio specializing in creative solutions for science and medicine, to ensure accurate representations of anatomy and recognition of underrepresented people. women’s groups.
The campaign shines a light on how women have always been distorted in healthcare, portraying all female anatomy as one size fits all, when in reality there is no ‘normal’ when it comes to relates to body types.
One in four women have some degree of asymmetry in their breasts. Meanwhile, 97% of OBGYNs were asked by women of all ages about genital normality, but not all of them could feel confident that they could articulate what normalcy is.
The use of current images of the female body in health care is extremely detrimental to women’s physical and mental well-being.
When women do not fit a biased image – especially mothers, black and other minority women and those who are traditionally excluded from commonly represented bodies – their representation is eliminated, which means they are not given the health care they need.
Currently, medical textbooks only show 17% of images as POC and of these images, the majority (75%) are of fair-skinned women.
Unconscious biases in education can lead to inequities in medical practice that often have fatal consequences.
Black women face greater barriers to accessing appropriate health care. Black women in the UK are still four times more likely to die in childbirth, for example. The omission of various bodies from the medical literature allows a doorway for bias to enter medical treatment.
The new image gallery is available royalty-free for women, the media, and the medical community to tune into practices, journals, and more.
“It’s just as important, if not more so, that women see themselves in healthcare as they do in media and business,” said Michelle Kennedy, Founder and CEO of Peanut.
“Women have been misdiagnosed and abused because their health care provider failed to recognize their physical symptoms on non-white skin.
“Our goal with these new illustrations is not just to educate patients and the medical field, but society as a whole. Women and mothers in all their shapes, sizes and identities must be represented.
Dr Somi Javaid added: “As practitioners, it is our duty to treat each patient to the best of our abilities. When there are obvious biases in the tools we use to diagnose, we are not bringing our best to every patient.
“These new illustrations will showcase the diverse bodies and skin tones healthcare providers will see on their daily rounds and change the course of how we treat patients who have been underrepresented and undertreated for so long. long time. »