Monday, April 1, 2013

DAY 1: #HAWMC 2013: The Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge

In the spirit of other 30 in 30 (or 31 in 31) series we've made in the past, I am taking up the challenge from WEGO Health (and may be joined by my partner in creativity a few times).

I don't actually think of myself as "health activist," but when I look at the themes in my writing over the years, I think such a thread exists. So here's how I think about my contributions to health:

1. I am a trained Medical Sociologist and, as such, I have done a lot of research about public health and health systems. First and foremost, I believe sociology brings important information to the table that other disciplines cannot. The impacts of social systems, economic systems, political systems and class systems upon health are well documented. Our health, our health care and our understanding of what is and is not healthy occur within cultural understandings and organizational structures. All that, in turn, contributes to our well-being and our sense of well-being.

2. I am fifty-five-year-old fat woman who suffers from chronic illness and disability. I live at the intersection of a lot of stigma and often voices like mine are suppressed even among other activists. Many health-at-every-size activists ignore people like me because they fear we might undermine their argument of fat and fit (we don't). Many disability activists (and probably some of the other WEGO bloggers) believe that if I just found a way to lose weight, I wouldn't be sick or disabled any more (never mind that weight gain is a major symptom of said chronic ailments and my disability stems from a camping accident in 2004).

3. I support universal design. And, in fact, I have chosen this blog to be the major place I write the 30 HAWMC 2013 entries because we are in the process of raising funds to do a documentary (really a docucomedy) about universal design in our home city of Las Vegas. Inclusion is often more about how we build things than anything else. We do not live in a one-size-fits-all world and health is becoming one of those things that people are using to divide rather than unite.

The main reason, however, that I have taken this challenge is that it arrived in my inbox at just the moment when I was feeling like I hadn't written much lately. I took the timing to be a sign from the universe to speak out. So for the next 30 days, that's just what I'm going to do.