On her Facebook page, Dr. Christiane Northrup regularly posts encouraging messages that are accompanied by graphics of women. For months, I've been commenting on how these images are only of stylized skinny women's bodies and are almost always of white women's bodies. Here's one from August 31, 2016 that exemplifies these posts:
I agree with this statement, but I'm ready to take public action about the exclusionary images Dr. Northrup uses in these graphics, and the way my criticisms about it have been ignored for months. These images are usually of white women and always skinny. Such imagery is alienating to women of different sizes and women of color (I am both). I'd welcome a response on this, Dr. Northrup, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone else who wants to defend these graphics, thanks, but yours isn't the response I'm looking for.
Most women who responded to my post didn't like it, but you can see that I got three "likes," so I wasn't completely alone. Dr. Northrup, for the first time in almost a year, finally answered my ongoing criticism:
Hi, sweetie, when the Hay House artist first came Up with these stylized images years ago, I liked the look and feel Of them. They were never meant to depict Reality in any way. Just be interesting graphically. I totally get your point here. And so do many others. And at some point we'll probably change to something else. But for now, they're working for us. Please Know that your sentiments have Been heard and appreciated! Bless you!
Many women chimned in on this and none of them supported me. My response was:
Dr. Christiane Northrup, thank you for responding to me. All imagery is stylized, but do you not see how your skinny fantasy images enforce the dominant culture's belief that women are only healthy and beautiful if they are skinny? Or maybe you agree with that opinion. Your comfort with your skinny images make me suspect that you don't think fat women can also be beautiful and healthy. If that's true, then I'm very disappointed and will include this exchange when I talk to people about your wonderful books.
Dr. Northrup wrote back:
Well I am a huge fan of Melissa McCarthy if that means anything. Of course I don't believe that only tall impossibly skinny women can be healthy. Beauty takes so many forms.
I didn't bother to tell Dr. Northrup that no, it doesn't mean anything that she's a fan of Melissa McCarthy (damn). In the meantime, others weighed in, including with the response in the graphic above:
Enough of the racist crap Regina. Best you move along and stop TROLLING this profile before you get reported for harassment and hatred. Dr. Northrop does not owe you an explication on why she uses the pics she uses. Thank you Dr. Northrop for all you do to educate on here and all your books which I have them all.
More responses are below:
I felt real disappointment and hurt that so many people felt disgusted and angry with me for raising this point, although I'm sure I shouldn't have been. Dr. Northrup seems to have a very white-identifying Facebook community. I finally left it at this:
I am very disappointed by the lack of understanding from Dr. Northrup and the anger I've received from her followers. I have only tried to point out how the whiteness and skinniness of her images make me feel left out and ignored as a Mexican-American woman. Sadly (and I really do feel sad), there isn't much sympathy in the Northrup FB community for these issues of inclusion. Do you want a community where all women feel welcome or just some? If pointing out racial dynamics counts as "trolling" then I guess there's no room for me here.
I'm tempted to unlike her page, but I want to see if she makes any changes and, if she does, how long it takes. So I've decided to stay because I can't monitor the situation if I'm not there.