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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Pain Is So Gendered, More Often Than Not Women Are Expected To “Smile More”: Swarima Bhattacharya

  • IWB Post
  •  February 11, 2019

Last year, IWB had joined hands with Safecity on our campaign Vocal Streets, where we talked about creating a safe environment for reporting of sexual harassment and spread the message on Safecity’s Twitter handle. Continuing its trend of inviting socially aware associations and personalities to take over its Twitter handle, Safecity current guest is Swarima Bhattacharya.

The founder of TheaCare, a women’s health companion and the curator of FemmeCon, India’s first women’s health festival, Swarnima aims to dismantle the culture of silence and stigma against women’s health. And her topic of discussion on Safecity’s Twitter handle is invisible illnesses and how a majority of them affect women majorly.

Safecity/Swarnima on Twitter

Invisible Illness” is an umbrella term for medical conditions whose symptoms & impact are not visible, or apparent, clearly to others. These include mental health issues like depression, and other conditions like ADHD, Endometriosis, Fibromyalgia, PCOS etc.

Safecity/Swarnima on Twitter

Here’s why this conversation matters for women: In India 1 in 10 women suffers from PCOS, 26 million have Endometriosis, & 28 million people live with Fibromyalgia. Studies show that 75-90% of Fibro cases, happen to women. 22% Indian mothers suffer Post-partum depression

Safecity/Swarnima on Twitter

These are staggering numbers, and just the cases on record. These conditions are not only invisible, but also unpredictable. Conversation around this has begun, but is sporadic at best.

Safecity/Swarnima on Twitter

Friends, family & co-workers of people living with invisible illness have to confront their biases & pre-conceived notions of what “disability” looks like.

Safecity/Swarnima on Twitter

While understanding invisible illness, it is important that we re-viewing markers of “illness” & “wellness”. Illness doesn’t always look like the flu, or a fractured limb. And a smiling face does not necessarily denote wellness.

Safecity/Swarnima on Twitter

This is even more important, because pain is so gendered. More often than not, women are expected to “smile more”, “complain less”, “adjust” & “accommodate”. That increases the emotional & physical burden of the invisible illness

Safecity/Swarnima on Twitter

Young women are always being held up as a symbol of fertility, and it seems to me that people can’t compute or don’t want to think about how the very person they think of as the poster of health is actually quite likely to be sick” — Hirsch #InvisibleIllness #WomensHealth

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