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Through a new illustration series, one woman entrepreneur is trying to tackle the problem of medical bias. (Credit: Peanut)

Medical bigotry is a pervasive problem. 

Studies show that unequal access to adequate health care for marginalized communities, as well as biases held by medical professionals, result in everything from lower life expectancies for people of color to higher risks of dying from a Covid-19 infection. Women of color are especially hurt by this phenomenon, research indicates.

Michelle Kennedy, founder of social networking app Peanut – which connects women navigating fertility, parenthood, menopause and more – aims to attack the issue of medical bias by way of improving representation for all types of women in medical texts. 

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How? Through a new photo series called “The Reframing Revolution,” which showcases women of varying races, sizes and abilities experiencing IVF bruising, hot flashes and other medical phenomena. 

“Women have historically been misrepresented in healthcare, portraying all female anatomy as white, slim, hairless, young, and able-bodied,” Kennedy wrote on her app’s website. And she’s right – studies point to a dearth of representation for dark-skinned individuals in medical photos and illustrations.

“When women don’t fit within a biased image –- particularly mothers, BIPOC women, and those who have traditionally fallen outside of commonly portrayed bodies – their representation is eliminated and ultimately, they don’t receive the health care they need,” Kennedy added.

For this project, the Peanut team worked with OBGYN Dr. Somi Javaid, who is also the founder of women’s health care clinic HerMD, to ensure accuracy. (The images themselves were created by Biotic Artlab.)

Kennedy hopes these images – all of which are available royalty-free – make their way into medical journals, news reports and more. Because, as she notes, “the reality is that there is no normal when it comes to body types.”

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