With all the conversation that you’re having with your girlfriends, who’s having the conversation about your health?
There are countless blogs about Black women’s hair–what’s your curl pattern? What protective styles can you wear? How often should you wash? Is co-washing better? The natural hair conversation has taken off to dimensions my unborn grandchild will only understand.
We talk about the latest diet trend, but why aren’t we talking about how our diets will keep us from growing grapefruit sized fibroids? How often do you check in with your girlfriend’s routine breast exams? Have you ever discussed getting a pelvic ultrasound over brunch?
I promise this is my last set of questions. Are you talking to your girlfriends about how often you and your boo get checked for STD’s or if they’ve ever contracted an STI or STD? What about the steps they took to get rid of it?
Black women are at risk for the most health issues, specifically issues with our reproductive health. I think it’s high time we begin to put our big girl panties on and just go there. In the words of poet and Black feminist, Audre Lorde, preserving our body is a “matter of political warfare.” Black hair blogs are just the beginning of truly learning ourselves, regaining control of our fate and changing the legacy Black women leave in the world.
Our story of health is an important one. It is pertinent and actually vital to society. May I plug another Black shero? Author, scholar and 19th century women’s activist, Anna Julia Cooper made a bold declaration that only Black woman can say, “When and where I enter…there the whole Negro race enters with me.”
To think that as a Black woman, upon my entrance into wherever I go, I usher in the entire Black race. If I thought of my body as the source of mankind how different would I treat her? How would I treasure her, care for her, build her up, strengthen her and be kind to her? Carrying the Black race is a huge feat. She (our bodies) must be prepared.
Now I am preparing as I have reached the age that I am seriously considering my future plans. I am several years out of college, well into my career and have begun to considering marriage, starting a family and buying a home. When contemplating these life-changing goals–my biological clock tick, tick, ticks away. Can I find a man and accomplish my career aspirations before having children? Between the challenges of my career journey and my complicated relationship and genetic history (I.e. my mother’s ability and/or challenges having children) I am unsure how likely it is for me to accomplish all of my goals.
I have a complicated sexual history due to complicated relationships, and the past risky sexual behaviors I’ve engaged in could lead to serious reproductive issues or put me at a greater risk of contracting STI’s and STD’s in the future. Also, women in my maternal family have all had cysts and fibroids that led to hysterectomies between ages 40 and 50-years-old, also leaving me at risk for those conditions. AND, if am able to beat these odds I have to also consider balancing my career-work life and my family life. Not to mention bare the cost of maternity leave and daycare.
Reflecting on all of the issues many women have to deal with, I am left anxious, stressed, and a little depressed about it all–cue Haagen-Dazs and cupcakes–how the hell am I suppose to do it all?! Maybe this is why we’re not talking about our health— it goes deep, and we have way too much going on to go there! I have realized that it is up to me to make my health a top priority in the same way that I do for my job. I have to take my health as seriously as I do my career, my finances and my life goals, because they are all inevitably connected.
I also cannot figure this out on my own. We have to start these conversations with someone other than our self…or at least pick up where many other Black women have left off and research the hell out of what we don’t know. First things first, what are we up against?