Friday, September 02, 2016

Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD

Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD is an internationally known expert on women's health and wrote the bestseller The Wisdom of Menopause. She has appeared in hundreds of podcasts, radio shows and television shows, including Oprah. Her writing encourages women to take control of our health, cultivate a positive outlook on aging and empower ourselves through self-care. I have greatly appreciated her books and started following her on Facebook last year.

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 got tired of commenting on the exclusionary nature of these images and getting no response from Dr. Northrup (who I figure must occasionally glance at her Facebook page) although I did hear plenty of pushback from her followers (few of whom see my point). So, this is what I posted in response to this graphic:

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 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.


David Greenfield said...

1. They are completely insensitive (you were right about the images) -- White Privilege, I think.
2. They know this at some level and feel/act defensively.
3. You've addressed it in a constructive, engaging way with them.
4. Yes, time will tell.

This is a microcosm of race relations in the USA, seems to me. I hope that you have provided a model to navigate through hour potential conflicts.

Keep up the good work!

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Thank you, David. It helps to hear from someone who sees my point. I can see that this post has been read by dozens of people, but you're the first one to comment. I appreciate it!

Andria Anderson said...

Years ago I tried some remedy or other from Dr. Northrup. It did badly with me and I've never trusted her information since.

However, even if I considered her a competent doctor (which I don't), her insensitivity to your feelings demonstrates a lack of comprehension that would warn me off all over again. It's like these people didn't even understand the CONCEPT. You better believe that if the tables were turned, they'd be the first ones to scream, Unfair!"

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Thank you, Andria!

Laughing Boy said...

I see your point clearly. Unfortunately, the new age readers and followers of Hay House and the like are very close minded despite their messages. They would like to imagine that the world is colorblind and can be fixed through hope and prayer rather than action.

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Thanks, Laughing Boy.

JJ said...

That "Dr" was VERY condescending and I see no support of anyone who doesn't fit neatly into her white feminism niche. She (and her racist/privileged followers) have no clue of intersectionality, nor do they want to get a clue. If there was something they thought might be good, but had images that were everything BUT them, they'd be all in a rage and trying to tear it down with white tears.

Matt said...

I agree with your own comments about the stylised graphic of the skinny white woman, as well as with David's comments about the response they gave you.

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Thank you, JJ and Matt.

Michael Morningstar said...

Just to clarify, I've never been rendered as any body type and only graphically depicted via acronyms or surname derivatives. However, I wholeheartedly agree that such bias is not useful or with any useful positive outcome. Just saying.

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Thank you, Michael. You're funny.