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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Yellow Wallpaper

I'm looking forward to seeing how Ioana Marinca's powerful and very personal Yellow Wallpaper project on Instagram, a project that begins with how women cope with endometriosis, adenomyosis and PCOS, but goes way beyond that. It is so fundamental and so necessary. I

It's an exploration of women's bodies, medical responses to those bodies and scientific and social gender bias. It's about pain bias (where women are judged to feel less pain than men - this extends to children, and across race as well). it's about gendered testing (including a test to see how to combat the higher rates of heart disease experienced by women who had decreased oestregen as they aged - the test was done on over 8,000 men), it's about the Invisibility of women to science, and the inbuilt medical prejudices experienced by women since the Victorian era. It's about real women's experiences of these things, how they have been affected by them, and how understanding can be broadened to make for a better medical, social and scientific understanding for everyone.

Follow Yellow Wallpaper on Instagram here. 

And read the book where it gets the name from here.

This is the introductory statement to the project.

When I was 14 I was picking up my sister's Bacalaureat exam results. I went with a friend, it was a short walk from home. I was on my period and already in pain, but nothing i wasn’t used to. On the way home i remember blacking out. Not through pain, my vision just completely went black. I grabbed my friend's arm, explained what was happening and went to sit down on the side of a flower bed until it passes. I remember throwing up in the flower bed, and my vision coming back after a few minutes.

That was the only blackout I had, but for the next 20 years I lived in constant fear of my period, but accepted that mine came with pain. Despite regular visits to different doctors and specialists I never knew why.

Last year, at the age of 34, after nearly passing out in the office I decided to investigate my periods again. During a scan the nurse showed me my womb on the monitor and said “Look, it lights up like a Christmas tree!”. I finally had a diagnosis, it was adenomyosis. I asked the doctor what treatment options there are, and she said none, but suggested inducing me into menopause. I wanted to punch her.

This project asks the question why – why is there no treatment? How many other women are in a similar situation, and how do they live with womb related conditions that science has yet to fully understand.

Through personal experiences of the women I've met and photographed, Yellow Wallpaper examines how women have been excluded from medical research, have not been listened to – especially when experiencing pain, causing women's bodies to become medically, scientifically and socially invisible.

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