The Fallacy of the BMI

Every day our lives are shaped by this simple calculations. This may not be obvious to you if your calculations happen to land you in a socially acceptable place, approved of by authorities. But for many of us whose BMIs are outside of that window, we are denied healthcare, charged more for it, or punished otherwise. The whole story is much bigger than just the BMI and at some point I will get into fatphobia itself and its vast implications in the world. But for now let’s look at the BMI specifically because it is used ubiquitously in healthcare and not only is it inaccurate but it was never meant to be used for individuals.

This little article is just a quick fact sheet. For more complete information and history I suggest checking out the articles The Bizarre and Racist History of the BMI by Your Fat Friend (Aubrey Gordon), and The Racist and Problematic History of the Body Mass Index by Adele Jackson-Gibson.

But for a quick overview, here are some fast facts:

  • Originally created in 1835 by Adolphe Quetelet
  • Quetelet was not a doctor, nor trained in medicine. He was a statistician.
  • His goal was to find the “ideal” man.
  • His formula was designed and intended to measure populations, not individuals.
  • His formula was derived based on statistics of European people only.
  • Numerous studies have found it is not accurate for folx of other ethnicities.
  • It cannot tell you how much fat a person has; according to the BMI, Arnold Schwarzenegger is obese. It literally just measures mass and different bone or muscle densities among individuals can skew it.
  • It’s totally arbitrary. In 1998 the guidelines were changed and “millions of Americans became ‘fat’ [overnight] — even if they did not gain a pound.”
  • Keith Devlin of NPR called the BMI “mathematical snake oil.”

  • To get a more visual idea of what various BMIs look like on real people, you can check out my new Instagram project (you can submit your pics, too!). This project is based on Kate Harding’s BMI Project which this page has historically linked to. She’s given me her blessing to bring this new version to life to update it and hopefully continue spreading the word about the fallacy of the BMI.

    Look, I know it’s nice to have a simple formula we can all agree on. But the fact is that it doesn’t work and the more we rely on it, the more we harm folx. I’ve been charged more for insurance because of my BMI. I’ve been denied medical care because of my BMI. People whose bodies are smaller than, or larger than the “healthy” range of the BMI are not allowed to donate their bodies to science (and then that means that doctors in training do not get to learn from fat bodies which perpetuates the cycle). Again, we will get into these details in a future post when we examine fatphobia, but it’s important to see ways in which BMI specifically limits people.

    It’s way past time to throw the BMI in the garbage where it belongs.

    And while we’re at it – throw out your scale, too.


    1. Devlin, Keith. “Top 10 Reasons Why the BMI Is Bogus.” NPR, NPR, 4 July 2009,
    2. Quetelet, Adolphe. A Treatise on Man and the Development of His Faculties. 1835.
    3. Gordon, Aubrey. “The Bizarre and Racist History of the BMI.” Elemental, Medium, 18 Oct. 2019,
    4. Jackson-Gibson, Adele. “The Racist and Problematic Origins of the Body Mass Index.” Good Housekeeping, Good Housekeeping, 1 Nov. 2021,
    5. Cohen, Elizabeth, and Anne McDermott. “Who’s Fat? New Definition Adopted.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 June 1998,
    6. “The National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Program: Health Implications of Obesity.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Feb. 1985,
    7. “Illustrated BMI Categories.” Curated by Kate Harding, Flickr, Flickr,

    BBFH: Rosalind Franklin

    Y’all, this badass bitch, tho. Rosalind Franklin was a gifted and driven English scientist in the middle of the 20th Century. And because she was a woman, she faced a fucking lot of misogyny. Yay, Women’s History Month.

    Watson and Crick are the men generally credited with the discovery of DNA, but there is huge debate even to this day as to whether they did, whether Rosalind Franklin did, or whether they stole her work and succeeded unethically. After doing my research, I feel like the answer is this: they absolutely profited off of her work without her knowledge or credit and anyone who says otherwise is, usually, a man.

    Here’s how it went down.

    Rosalind was an English chemist and X-Ray crystallographer and, after doing work on coal that was vitally important to WWII and to the world we live in today, she took a fellowship at King’s College in London where she wound up working on DNA structures. There was some miscommunication, or perhaps some chaotic reassignments within their department when she joined and this, in addition to apparent personality differences, caused some friction between herself and fellow researcher Maurice Wilkins (1). “Her friend Norma Sutherland recalled: ‘Her manner was brusque and at times confrontational – she aroused quite a lot of hostility among the people she talked to, and she seemed quite insensitive to this (1).'” Girl, SAME.

    Meanwhile, at Cambridge, Francis Crick and James Watson were doing the same work, but struggling to find the correct answers. “Watson and Crick’s first foray into trying to crack the structure of DNA took place in 1952. It was a disaster. Their three-stranded, inside-out model was hopelessly wrong and was dismissed at a glance by Franklin (1).” Badass.

    Meanwhile over at King’s College, Wilkins had been working with graduate student Raymond Gosling on attempting to get pictures of DNA with some success. But once Franklin arrived, she, working with Gosling, who had been transferred to her leadership, used her expertise in Chemistry to make some adjustments to the camera and tools Wilkins had been using. In this way she was able to capture the first clear picture of DNA.

    Image shows a shape roughly like a circle with a chromosome shaped like an X at the center., the outer part of the circle is blackened. To the right shows some cursive handwriting that is frankly hard to read but, among other things, does mention the names Franklin and Gosling. The background is like yellowed paper and a mark from a paper clip can be seen in the upper left corner.
    Photo 51 by Franklin and Gosling

    Now there’s a lot of politics and bureaucratic nonsense going on here and it’s not unreasonable for Wilkins to have felt slighted with his tools and grad student being used to achieve superior work without his input or involvement. Based on everything else I’ve read on this case and also my experience as a woman in our society, I think it’s reasonable to say that the fact that the superior work was being done by a woman must have stung even more.

    But what’s not reasonable – and what’s strangely up for debate to this day – is what he did next.

    He fucking showed the photo to Watson. Without Rosalind’s permission.

    This is particularly important because this photo changed the game. Immediately, Watson understood that he was looking at a double helix. He later said, “my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race (qtd in 1).”

    Here’s where the “debate” comes in. Did he “steal” the photo? Technically, no, nothing illegal occurred. But was it unethical? FUCK YES, JESUS CHRIST, YES IT WAS UNETHICAL FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Matthew Cobb, at the Guardian, wrote that, “Their behaviour was cavalier, to say the least, but there is no evidence that it was driven by sexist disdain: [they] would have undoubtedly behaved the same way had the data been produced by Maurice Wilkins (1).” To which I, a woman, say, “mhrm, okay bro” but even if he’s right about that, I daresay we would not still be debating whether it was stolen work had it been stolen from a man.

    But even this groundbreaking photo was not quite enough. More of Rosalind’s work was taken – again, not illegally, but not with permission or acknowledgement. Watson and Crick needed, not just the photo, but the detailed observations from it to make their calculations. This was made available to them by another man, Max Perutz, who showed them an informal report Rosalind had made (1).

    Even Cobb admits that “The report was not confidential, and there is no question that the Cambridge duo acquired the data dishonestly. However, they did not tell anyone at King’s what they were doing, and they did not ask Franklin for permission to interpret her data (something she was particularly prickly about) (1).”

    How the fuck can they claim that the work wasn’t stolen? A scientist and scholar of Franklin’s notes that “you do not hand unpublished data to a competitor. Period. I don’t care if the MRC report was not marked confidential (2).” And I mean, I’m just a lowly literature and Women’s Studies scholar, but it was made patently clear in every single class from middle school through university that plagiarism is unconscionable and this smacks of plagiarism. *shrug*

    Furthermore, the arguments against wrongdoing by Watson and Crick (which tend to be made my men) generally go like this:

  • She was mean and didn’t want to work with anyone else.
  • But she wasn’t discriminated against for her sex (ummm okay reread the line before this one and just try to tell me anyone would have used this excuse about a man).
  • The information was publicly available previously (I will get into this in a mo). (2)

  • and my personal favorite:

  • She never found out the extent to which they’d used her work to beat her to the finish line so she therefore wasn’t harmed by it (2).

  • What. Like. Really though. What? How is this an argument made by an adult professional? It feels like kids fighting on an elementary school playground.

    black and white photo featuring a woman with short brown hair, parted at the side, leaning over a microscope

    As for the information that was publicly available previously? Watson had attended a seminar in 1951 where Rosalind presented “virtually identical” data as was in the later-acquired report. “Had Watson bothered to take notes during her talk, instead of idly musing about her dress sense and her looks, he would have provided Crick with the vital numerical evidence 15 months before the breakthrough finally came (1).”

    Yeah. Still not seeing how his refusal to take her seriously enough at the time makes it acceptable for him to use her work, retrieved illicitly, to earn a Nobel prize. I feel like any one of my professors would shrug and say “too bad, so sad” to me if I tried to use that as an argument. I certainly feel like, again, had she been a man presenting this information, Watson may have taken her seriously enough in the first place so that he would never have had to twist and bend ethics in an attempt to wash his conscience clean.

    *feminist grumbles*

    In an interview from PBS Newshour, Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian was asked if Watson and Crick would have arrived at their world-changing discovery without Rosalind’s work. “They absolutely would not. It would have been very hard for them,” before conceding that “They might have, eventually (3).”

    He goes on to acknowledge that “I think they never thought of Rosalind as a serious competitor of their level. I think it was chauvinism to the nth degree and was very common in academic science on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean at that time (3).”

    That, friends, is how you ally.

    Would they have, eventually, gotten there? Yes, maybe, but still not before our girl Rosalind. “The progress she made on her own, increasingly isolated and without the benefit of anyone to exchange ideas with, was simply remarkable (1).” She was speedrunning what had taken them years and stolen data to achieve. Markel notes, “Francis Crick said: Of course, Rosalind would have figured it out in a few weeks. It’s just that we figured it out faster (3).” (With stolen work.)

    Rosalind lived only five more years, dying in 1958 of ovarian cancer, possibly due to her work with X-Ray technology, and four years before Watson and Crick were awarded the Nobel prize for “their” discovery. It is often argued that Rosalind would not have been eligible for the Nobel prize, anyway, because they did not award them posthumously. But to me that sounds like more bullshit because a) why they fuck not? and b) we will never truly know if she would have been considered for it.

    Rosalind was an absolute powerhouse and her work changed the world not only through the vital understanding of DNA, or even her earlier work with the structures of coal, but because she worked with viruses as well and her work laid the foundations that shaped scientific response to the pandemic we are currently living through. Fucking hero. Badass bitch. Rosalind Franklin.


    1. Cobb, Matthew. “Sexism in Science: Did Watson and Crick Really Steal Rosalind Franklin’s Data?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 23 June 2015,
    2. Lloyd, Robin. “Rosalind Franklin and DNA: How Wronged Was She?” Scientific American Blog Network, Scientific American, 3 Nov. 2010,
    3. Brangham, William, et al. “Why Discovery of DNA’s Double Helix Was Based on ‘Rip-off’ of Female Scientist’s Data.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 30 Sept. 2021,

    Further basic information found at

    Upcoming Infoposts and BBFH

    I’m so scatterbrained these days…. well more than usual, hah. I entirely forgot to post my planned schedule for infoposts and BBFH for this year. I was a little behind on my Feb infopost, but I still hope to get March’s up this month. All of this is subject to evolve for any number of reasons, including new recommendations for subjects shared with me. So if you’ve got a great idea, drop it in the comments below!

    FEBRUARY: Ida B Wells, Black Journalist b. 1862
    MARCH: Rosalind Franklin, chemist who discovered double helix shape of DNA
    APRIL: Zheng Yi Sao, Chinese pirate b. 1775
    MAY: Liluuokalani, last monarch of Hawaii
    JUNE: TBA, let me know your favorite queer icon!
    JULY: Poly Styrene, singer for punk band X-Ray Spex
    AUGUST: Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer b. 1815
    SEPTEMBER: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Mexican poet b. 1648
    OCTOBER: Kitty Cone, disabled activist b. 1944
    NOVEMBER: Susan La Flesche Picotte, Native American doctor b. 1865
    DECEMBER: Trieu Thi Trinh, Vietnamese warrior b. 226 CE

    FEBRUARY: Reproductive Justice
    APRIL: Intersectionality
    MAY: Fatphobia
    JUNE: Allyship 101
    JULY: Clitoris Facts
    AUGUST: Patriarchy is bad for men, too
    SEPTEMBER: Non-Western Beauty Standards
    OCTOBER: Disability rights
    NOVEMBER: Childbirth Recovery
    DECEMBER: Sexual Violence

    Infopost: Reproductive Justice

    You are undoubtedly aware of the Reproductive Rights movement, which advocates for access to sex ed, birth control, abortions, and medical care during pregnancy and birth. And those things are absolutely very necessary for the health of individuals as well as for the society which those individuals live in. But those things are all rather limited in the grand scheme of things and as it turns out, we need to recognized the interconnectedness of all things not just through intersectional feminism, but through Reproductive Justice as well.

    According to Sister Song, a respected source in the RJ movement since 1997, the Reproductive Justice Movement was named in 1994.

    “Indigenous women, women of color, and trans* people have always fought for Reproductive Justice, but the term was invented in 1994. Right before attending the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, where the entire world agreed that the individual right to plan your own family must be central to global development, a group of black women gathered in Chicago in June of 1994. They recognized that the women’s rights movement, led by and representing middle class and wealthy white women, could not defend the needs of women of color and other marginalized women and trans* people. We needed to lead our own national movement to uplift the needs of the most marginalized women, families, and communities.” (1)

    Many RJ sources quote Audre Lorde when she said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

    So what is Reproductive Justice, then? Sister Song defines it as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities (1).”

    And what does Reproductive Justice look like? It includes awareness and advocacy not just for the same issues as the Reproductive Rights movement calls for, but also for environmental issues, prison reform, economic justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, and it also specifically advocates for the rights of people to have children if they choose – the US in particular has a long and dark history of forced or coerced sterilizations of people of color and disabled folx. So buckle up if you’ve got the spoons for this post, cause it’s gonna be a hard road to walk.

    (And please remember, white, cis, straight, abled folx, that when I talk about “spoons” that is not for you in this case. It is your responsibility to learn this history and to share this history among your peers. Marginalized folx already know this and do this.)

    Already we recognize that the classism and racism in our culture is toxic and must be eradicated. But it becomes a Reproductive Justice issue when you also acknowledge that without universal, equitable healthcare, many cannot afford it (2). And if one cannot access healthcare, it logically follows that one therefore cannot access birth control, gestational and birth care, cancer and heath screenings, or healthcare for any children one has. Ms. Magazine has a nice little article up that notes how various aspects of economic injustice contribute to a lack of access to healthcare:

  • “women of color are disproportionately segregated into work sectors that are least likely to have access to paid family leave, paid sick leave and protections for pregnant women (2).”
  • “70% of tipped workers are women and they are three times more likely to be in poverty and experience five times the rate of sexual harassment. When the minimum wage goes up to $15, tipped workers will still be left at $5 (2).”
  • “when we talk about domestic abuse, we have to consider the experiences of undocumented people who do not report out of fear of deportation (2).”
  • “At [Planned Parenthood New York City], we see over 64,000 patients every year, many of whom are women of color, low-income and poor, immigrant and undocumented, and young people. Last year, we gave financial assistance to 10,600 patients (2).”

  • We also need to talk about the Hyde Amendment. In 1977, just four years after Roe V Wade, the US backpedaled in the name of “compromise” and “appeasing the Right” and enacted the Hyde Amendment which bars the use of federal funding for most abortions.


    Anyway. Without federal funding, low income folx cannot access most abortions on their own. Which is why we have Planned Parenthood being known for abortions when their original goal was contraception, and the majority of their services are healthcare and cancer screenings.

    But, wait! There’s more!

    “The [Hyde] amendment hinders the ability of all low-income women to terminate a pregnancy and disproportionately affects women of color, but it discriminates against Native women specifically because they are entitled to receive health services from a federal agency (3).”

    I’ll do a post on what intersectionality is at another time, but this is a good example. Many Americans struggle to access healthcare. Women struggle more than men. Women of color more than white women. And, in this respect, at least, Native American women are impacted the most. Where their identities of woman and Indigenous intersect is where they are the most impacted.

    Environmental Justice becomes a Reproductive Justice issue when it interferes with a person’s rights or ability to have and raise (or to not have) a child. This is pretty obvious when you look at the communities struggling during and in the aftermath of major storms like Katrina or Harvey. As global warming continues and storms become more destructive (4) I don’t have to elaborate on how that will affect families, particularly poor families (of which BIPOC make up a disproportionate amount).

    But things like the Flint water crisis are also examples of how Environmental Justice is a fundamental part of Reproductive Justice. Michael Moore reminds us that “you cannot reverse the irreversible brain damage that has been inflicted upon every single child in Flint. The damage is permanent (5).” Furthermore, residents’ reproductive organs may be affected (5). The City of Flint’s website does not have any updates on the situation past last July and this article by a PBS affiliate dated October 2021 notes that “As of June, just over 10,000 pipes have been replaced in Flint and the city’s website says it is in the final stage of replacement, but even still residents struggle to trust that the water is safe to drink (6).”

    If people do not have access to a safe environment in which to raise any children they choose to have, they lack Reproductive Justice. Chernobyl, Fukushima, the BP oil spill in the gulf, the issues with the Cuyahoga River, current and future pipelines, etc…. It’s all included here.

    And a reminder that while these events are global and affect many, many people, it is still BIPOC folx who are affected disproportionately because they are more likely to be living near these places, more likely to live below the poverty line and therefore have fewer options with which to remove themselves. Wealthy white people do not choose to build toxic places near their homes. (Eat the rich, by the way.)

    “Over half (58%) of all women in U.S. prisons are mothers, as are 80% of women in jails, including many who are incarcerated awaiting trial simply because they can’t afford bail (7).”

    When pregnant people are incarcerated, it is still routine within the United States to shackle them during labor and birth despite no evidence that it is necessary. JAAPL notes that “Most incarcerated women are not violent offenders. . . and there are no known escape attempts among inmates who were not restrained during childbirth (8).”

    They also note that “Potential negative health effects of restraints include increased discomfort, limited mobility, increased fall risk, delays in medical assessments during obstetrical emergencies, increased risk of blood clots, interference with normal labor and delivery, and interference with mother–infant bonding (8).”

    And they say that “Currently, 22 states have some legislation restricting the use of shackles during pregnancy, with some of these banning shackling only during active labor and delivery (8).”

    Once the baby is born, they are nearly always separated from their birthing parent in the United States. This is not, it turns out, the global norm. There are only four nations that routinely separate infant and parent: The United States, The Bahamas, Liberia, and Surinam (8).

    The good news is that there are a few prisons in the US that are working to change this. NPR has a really lovely article about this, stating that “Washington Corrections Center for Women is one of at least eight prisons in the country that allows a small number of women who are pregnant and give birth while incarcerated to keep their newborns with them for a limited time (9).” These places aren’t like Orange is the New Black – they are safe and appropriate for babies and toddlers. They are built to be child- and family-oriented and studies have shown that they benefit for the baby and the parent (10).

    Another problem unique to parenting while incarcerated is presented by The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 which intends to get children out of the foster care system and into adoption as soon as possible. While perhaps a noble goal, for parents whose children are in foster care while they serve their time it becomes a risk of losing ones child altogether. If a child is in foster care for fifteen months of the previous two years, parental rights are terminated (8).

    And a quick reminder here that prisons are literally modern slavery, per the Thirteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. According to Wikipedia, “While the United States represents about 4.2 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 20 percent of the world’s prisoners.” Putting all of this information together together makes the whole situation look kinda sus tbh.

    BIG trigger warning for this whole section.

    Ah, joy of joys. I’ve saved the most fun subject for last. (That’s sarcasm, this is the least fun subject. Maybe. Maybe they’re all equally horrific. The United States is a flat-out dystopia.)

    Did you know that the Nazis quite literally modeled their eugenics program after the United States? After California, specifically, in fact (11). Yeah. Gross.

    “Beginning in 1909 and continuing for 70 years, California led the country in the number of sterilization procedures performed on men and women, often without their full knowledge and consent. Approximately 20,000 sterilizations took place in state institutions, comprising one-third of the total number performed in the 32 states where such action was legal (11).”

    This was a program that specifically focused on the Disabled community. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough” when a disabled woman whose mother was also disabled was sterilized after having a child (11).

    But they didn’t limit themselves to just Disabled folx, they also sterilized minorities. There are noted examples in Puerto Rico (11), and in Los Angeles among Latina women, many of whom were forced to sign papers in a language they did not speak or read while in active labor (watch the documentary No Más Bebés). Time Magazine notes that in the 1970s, at least 25% of Native American women were sterilized, but the numbers are actually likely higher (12).

    But the worst part is that none of this is ancient history (not that 1979 is ancient history…). A number of incarcerated women were sterilized without lawful consent in California in the first decade of this new millennium (13). And don’t forget that as recently as 2020 it came to light that ICE was sterilizing immigrant women without lawful consent (14).

    Access to good, complete sex ed, and to abortions and birth control, as well as to gestational and birth care are absolutely necessary. But, proportionally, white women deal with these other issues less often. And, historically, we tend to forget (or worse) about others when we are doing activism. Hence, Reproductive Justice was born. Just like how feminism isn’t truly feminism if it’s not intersectional, the fight for reproductive freedom means nothing if we don’t remember to include all of these other aspects of being a human.

    Additionally, we must also remember to include LGBTQIA+ issues in our work – but there has not been research done on, for example, trans fathers in prison (also we need to research that and other niche areas). Remember that queer folx need access to birth control and abortions, too. Remember that some men give birth.

    We must remember that the gestational and childbirth mortality rates in the United States are abysmal. We have twice the birth mortality rate compared to other high-income nations at 17.4 per 100,000 births (15). France is next highest with 8.7 deaths per 100,000 births. New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands have 3 or fewer deaths per 100,000 births. But wait, it gets worse! For birthing folx who are Black, the rate in the US is 37.1 deaths per 100,000 births. What, and I want to be very clear here, the FUCK? (15)

    None of us are free, while so many of us cannot access their basic human rights. Take this information and share it and together we can begin to fix this mess we call a society.

    Fellow white folx, please remember: While it is absolutely imperative that we make Reproductive Justice a priority, we must remember that it is not our movement. As allies, we should share information, but never speak over BIPOC or any other marginalized community, particularly in a movement they started.

    If you’ve read this far, you’ve earned a cookie.

    1. “Reproductive Justice.” Sister Song, Sister Song,

    2. Ko, Michele. “Economic Justice Issues Are Reproductive Justice Issues.” Ms. Magazine, Ms. Magazine, 8 Feb. 2019,

    3. Theobald, Brianna. “The Native American Women Who Fought Mass Sterilization.” Time, Time, 5 Dec. 2019,

    4. “Environmental Justice Is Reproductive Justice and Reproductive Justice Is Environmental Justice.” Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood, 1 July 2020,

    5. Pickens, Josie. “#FlintWaterCrisis Is a Reproductive Justice Issue.” Ebony, Ebony, 2 Feb. 2016,

    6. Blakely, Natasha. “Seven Years on: The Flint Water Crisis Has Yet to Conclude.” Great Lakes Now, PBS, 27 Oct. 2021,

    7. Bertram, Wanda, and Wendy Sawyer. “Prisons and Jails Will Separate Millions of Mothers from Their Children in 2021.” Prison Policy Initiative,

    8. Friedman, Susan Hatters, et al. “The Realities of Pregnancy and Mothering While Incarcerated.” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 13 May 2020,

    9. Corley, Cheryl. “Programs Help Incarcerated Moms Bond with Their Babies in Prison.” NPR, NPR, 7 Dec. 2018,

    10. Clarke, Matthew. “Benefits of Allowing Prisoners to Raise Babies Born in Prison.” Prison Legal News, Human Rights Defense Center, 3 June 2016,

    11. Ko, Lisa. “Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 19 Nov. 2020,

    12. Theobald, Brianna. “The Native American Women Who Fought Mass Sterilization.” Time, Time, 5 Dec. 2019,

    13. Johnson, Corey G. “Female Prison Inmates Sterilized Illegally, California Audit Confirms.” Reveal, 2 July 2015,

    14. Narea, Nicole. “The Outcry over Ice and Hysterectomies, Explained.” Vox, Vox, 15 Sept. 2020,

    15. “Maternal Mortality and Maternity Care in the United States Compared to 10 Other Developed Countries.” Commonwealth Fund, 18 Nov. 2020,

    BBFH: Ida B Wells

    Damn, I knew this lady was a badass bitch, but when I dove into this research I was thrilled to learn exactly how few fucks she had to give. T Thomas Fortune, a Black civil rights leader, journalist, and publisher, once said of Ida that she “has plenty of nerve; she is as smart as a steel trap, and she has no sympathy with humbug.” And like damn if that’s not accurate. Let’s dive in and see just how little sympathy with humbug this badass bitch had.

    Born into slavery about six months before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation*, Ida’s childhood was informed by the Reconstruction era and the work that Black folx of the South were doing at the time. Something that may be important to note here, that I certainly never learned in high school history, is that in the years directly following the end of the Civil War, there were as many as 1500 Black officeholders elected to office before white southerners began enacting voter restriction laws. Ida’s father was not in government, but he did help to found Rust College, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), which Ida attended. So she comes from a family of Badasses.

    Unfortunately when she was a teenager, she lost both of her parents and one of her siblings during a yellow fever epidemic. Out of this tragedy, she arose, pulled up her badass britches, and stepped into the path of no humbug that she followed her whole life.

    Although she was only sixteen at the time, she convinced a local school administrator that she was eighteen and qualified to be a teacher (1). In this manner she was able to continue to support her five younger surviving siblings.

    A few years later, a rather inciting incident took place. She bought a first class train ticket and hopped on board with all the other first class passengers. Once the train was underway, she was asked to move to a car designated for Black riders. Like Rosa Parks would nearly a century later, Ida refused. She’d paid for first class, for fucks sake. Having no respect for human beings, the crew tried to physically remove her at which point she, in her own words, “fastened [her] teeth in the back of his hand (2).” Fuck yeah you did, Ms. Wells! While that particular dudebro would not go near her again, other crew members dragged her out anyway. Ida wrote, “They were encouraged to do this by the attitude of the white ladies and gentlemen in the car; some of them even stood on the seats so that they could get a good view and continued applauding the conductor for his brave stand (2).” She sued the railroad and won. For a time, anyway. The decision was eventually reversed by the Tennessee Supreme Court (1).

    So, like so many badass bitches, she began writing. She had articles published in various newspapers and even went on to own two papers herself (1). However, because she preferred to remain not murdered, she used the pseudonym “Iola” (3). She continued teaching even while she was writing and often wrote about the inferior conditions of Black schools, demanding equality.

    When three of her friends were lynched, she responded in the only way she knew how: she spent two months travelling through the south, collecting information on lynchings and writing about them, and eventually publishing a pamphlet and taking her anti-lynching campaign across the Atlantic to Europe and Great Britain (3). She was not fucking around. No sympathy with humbug.

    It feels like such a silly detail to follow that epic part of her story with, but in reality I think it’s remarkable to remember that when Ida got married in 1895, she was one of the first American women to keep her maiden name (1). Fuck yeah. No sympathy with humbug patriarchy, y’all. Never forget where we come from, fellow women. It may be commonplace today to keep our names, but it was revolutionary at one time and Ida got in on the ground floor.

    But she wasn’t just an investigative journalist, writer, publisher, orator, educator, wife, and mother. She was also a suffragist.

    (Fun fact because I like fun facts: “suffragette” is a term that actually only applied to one small group of suffragists in Great Britain who were kinda known for their mild violence. Throwing bricks through windows and whatnot. Everyone else was a “suffragist.”)

    When I am educating people on feminism and feminist ideals, I often remind them that feminism has historically been exclusionary. The suffragists excluded Black women, the women’s libbers excluded lesbians, and today some so-called feminists attempt to exclude transwomen. I use this fact as proof that it’s time to learn from our history and do better. Ironically, it’s always been an attempt to appeal to the perceived majority that prompts the exclusion. An attempt to “find the middle ground” (lol sorry but it’s not the middle ground if all of the people aren’t welcomed into the space).

    Ida faced this directly. Having no sympathy for humbug, she did what Ida always did: what she fucking set her mind to.

    In March of 1913, Alice Paul and other suffragists had planned a march on Washington. Ida traveled to Washington DC with the Alpha Suffrage Club, an organization she helped to found in Chicago, with the intent to March. Although Alice was sympathetic to Ida, in the end it was decided that Black suffragists would have to march at the end of the parade instead of with their respective organizations. Ida was like fuck no everyone knows I’ve got no sympathy for humbug and she waited in the crowds along the street until her group marched by, at which point she just fucking joined them (4).

    The Chicago Daily Tribune published a photo of Ida B. Wells marching in the suffrage parade on March 5, 1913. Credit: Chicago Daily Tribune, found at (4)

    God I love this woman.

    There is so much more she was involved with that this mini-bio doesn’t have time to go into. She’s considered a founding member of the NAACP, for instance (1). I highly recommend you go forth and google some shit. If each of us can find just a fraction of the amount of No Sympathy For Humbug that Ida did, we could change the world for the better real fucking fast. Keep that in mind, friends.

    *Remember, slavery did not end until… well, technically ever if you read the thirteenth amendment, which specifically allows for slavery as “punishment for crime,” but the amendment’s act of ending chattel slavery was not proclaimed until December 18, 1865.

    Works Cited
    1. “Ida B. Wells (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 30 Dec. 2020,
    2. Leider, Polly. “Excerpt from ‘Lighting the Way.’” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 16 July 2007,
    3. Smith, Clint, host. Ida B. Wells: Crash Course Black American History #20. Crash Course,, 8 Oct. 2021, Accessed 15 Feb. 2022.
    4. “Standing up for Her Principles: Ida B. Wells and the Suffrage Movement: Ida B. Wells: Chicago Stories.” WTTW Chicago, WTTW Chicago, 21 May 2021,

    Update (Marissa)

    Previous post here.

    Update January 2022:
    Since those early months postpartum, I have added another sweet kiddo to our family. My son is about to turn 3, and I am almost 1 year postpartum from my second. Not much has changed physically since my first – besides becoming more active. I am now 26! Here are some update photos. I’m not the same woman I was in my first post – I’m so glad. I have come to grow and release much of my harsh words to myself. Here are photos of my bodily changes between 5-10 months postpartum after my second. My advice is to accept this journey where you are – & know that you will continue to change inside and out. Wear the cute outfit, bathing suit, don’t give up on exercise if you loved it before, don’t consider yourself less worthy of good health. I started a workout program just because I love fitness. I found myself almost depriving myself because I knew it wouldn’t “fix my loose skin” but I realized… so? It helps me be a healthier happier person – shouldn’t I invest? So I did. Best wishes my friends.

    Adidas Reveals New Ad That’s Just Boobies

    Have you seen this new Adidas ad?? I know it’s still trying to sell us something and I don’t trust any major corporation to be interested in anything but profit but even still I’ll take this bit of representation of how varied bodies can be. And if you needed this today, don’t forget to check out the o.g. body normalizing site, 007 Breasts.

    All boobies are good boobies.

    [Image shows a tweet by Adidas advertising their new sports bras by showing off 25 topless women with all sorts of boobs. Small ones, large ones, white ones, boobies of color, perky ones, ones pointing down, lopsided ones, ones with vitiligo.]

    Facts About Sex & Gender

    A couple of months ago on our Facebook page, we had an invasion of TERFs. TERF, if you don’t know is an acronym that stands for “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist,” or someone who defines themselves as a feminist, yet fights against trans rights. It has been proposed that perhaps FART, or Feminism-Appropriating Radical Transphobe, might be a more apt name and I cannot argue. It’s not feminism if it’s not intersectional. *shrug*

    Over the course of the invasion I realized that a lot of folx simply do not have the most up-to-date information about sex and gender. For instance, modern science now fully recognizes that the human spectrum of sexes is not a simple binary of male and female, and that those folx whose physical traits do not align with either male or female are not “broken” or in need of fixing, but that, simply, there are many ways to be human and “male” and “female” are merely two of them. So I knew my next infopost needed to address these topics. Sit back and get ready to learn some really cool shit. Humanity is far more diverse than our society has ever given it credit for, and frankly, I think that’s beautiful as fuck.


    Aren’t sex & gender the same thing?


    What is sex? In this context, “sex” refers to the physical characteristics of a person’s body. I.e. the parts that are used to assign genders at birth or genetic information.

    What is gender? “Gender,” on the other hand, is a set of socially constructed behaviors and/or characteristics that typically go with a person’s sex, although they do not always align.

    Sex and gender do interact with each other, but they are not the same thing.

    When we define terms, PLEASE REMEMBER that definitions can help us to communicate more clearly but that people are more important than dictionary definitions and that as languages evolve, so does our understanding of words and their definitions! So these definitions may be new to you, but that’s okay!

    Isn’t transgender a new concept?

    Western culture, on the whole, has not historically had a unifying definition of gender outside of male/female. Within American culture and the cultures that formed American culture (stemming from Christianity, really), transgender is a relatively new concept to us. That doesn’t mean that trans folx never existed! In fact we have records of many people “living as” the opposite gender to the one they were assigned at birth. But these instances were rarely public knowledge, likely due to the punishments trans folx would receive at the time (2).

    However, other cultures have long acknowledged three or more genders. The UN Free & Equal, an initiative of the UN Humans Rights Office, has an excellent map that shows some of the cultures which have historically acknowledged sexes, genders, and sexual orientations outside the binary (3). (Please note this link is fussy- it always gives me an error the first time. Usually works the second time.) Among them are listed indigenous cultures from the Americas, Russia, Indonesia, Asia, as well as European and Mediterranean cultures dating back to the Enlightenment and ancient times. Worldwide, queer folx have always existed and have been culturally acknowledged.

    How many human sexes are there, really?

    Intersex is the appropriate term today for folx whose bodies do not physically align with either male or female. Older terms you may have heard are no longer considered polite and h*rmaphrodite is considered a slur. Amnesty International has a good, short article debunking five common myths about intersex folx (4). Click the link for more information, but I’ll highlight a few here:

    Being intersex is rare. As we learn more about genetics and hormones, we discover people who may not have otherwise been aware that they are intersex. In recent years a 70 year old man and father of four had surgery to repair a hernia during which it was discovered that he had a uterus (5). Some intersex conditions are only known through chromosomal or genetic workups (5). And some medical professionals and folx with PCOS consider this to be an intersex condition, although there is not yet a firm consensus (6). All told it is estimated that there are about as many intersex folx on the planet as there are redheads (4). (I do not believe PCOS is counted in those numbers. For more info on how PCOS can be considered intersex, check out Hans Lindahl’s video on Youtube.)

    Being intersex is a condition that needs to be corrected. Our culture has been so obsessed with the gender binary that we have performed painful and irreversible surgeries on children and infants, often without their consent (4). “Although doctors and parents may be well meaning, the reality is that the procedures performed on intersex children can cause major problems, including infertility, pain, incontinence and lifelong psychological suffering (4).”

    Intersex folx are transgender. I mean some of them may be, but ultimately the two conditions are fundamentally different conditions. “An intersex person may be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or asexual, and may identify as female, male, both or neither (4).” Just like being born cis male or cis female, “intersex” refers only to the physical self, while “transgender” refers to the person’s internal identity of who they are.


    NEVER ask someone about their genitals. That is personal information and it is NONE of your business!

    People are more than their genitals, and your job as an ally is to simply trust that a person knows who they are and to use the language they ask you to use.

    What do trans rights mean for feminism?

    It is important to note that transgender folx – and intersex folx – being accepted and embraced by the feminist and queer movements is not in any way harmful to those movements. This is one argument I hear from TERFs all the time; they accuse me of somehow harming women by being inclusive of trans folx. I honestly cannot comprehend such a thought. When your feminism is intersectional, it already includes marginalized folx. The patriarchy is bad for everyone, even white men. All “patriarchy” means is that men hold the power, not that they spiritually and wholly benefit from it. That can be another post for another day; today I want to talk about the history of feminism.

    As a scholar of women’s history I have learned that the suffragist movement systematically kept Black suffragists out. I have learned that second wave feminism, while being somewhat more racially inclusive, excluded the queer community, calling lesbians “The Lavender Menace” (for real tho is there a gay riot grrl band named The Lavender Menace yet because there should be).

    TERFs are nothing more than the next wave of exclusionary feminists. They are entirely unoriginal and utterly boring. To truly be worthy of the term “radical” one would have to be doing something new and unprecedented. Alas.

    If one is not making sure their feminism is intersectional, they aren’t really doing the work of Feminism. Rather, they are doing the work of the patriarchy, of white supremacy, of capitalism, of oppressors.

    This umbrella is big enough for all of us. Make room or get out.

    Thank you for coming to my Ted talk.

    All of this is not knowledge I was given as I was growing up. Much of the genetic knowledge of sex is more recent than my high school biology education from the dark ages in the 90s. It’s okay to have not known this stuff before now. But as we know better, we do better. Make sure to make room for your trans and intersex friends and don’t gatekeep them because you simply didn’t have the right info.


    1. “Gender and Health.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,

    2. “History of Transgender People in the United States.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Dec. 2021,

    3. “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Throughout History.” UN Free & Equal,

    4. “Its Intersex Awareness Day – Here Are 5 Myths We Need to Shatter.” Amnesty International, Amnesty International, 11 Oct. 2021,

    5. Ainsworth, Claire. “Sex Redefined: The Idea of 2 Sexes Is Overly Simplistic.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 22 Oct. 2018,

    6. Lindahl, Hans. “Is PCOS Intersex?” Hi, Hello, Hans, YouTube, 20 Nov. 2020, Accessed 5 Jan. 2022.

    40 and finally accepting (Ruth)

    Hi, I’m a 40 year old mother of three. My last pregnancy was my third and last Caesarean section 14 years ago. I had heavy babies, and at my heaviest (during pregnancy) I have weighed 210lbs. I now weigh 154lbs and wear a UK size 12. I have an overhang which I don’t think I’ll ever lose without surgery. I do Yoga daily and my body is very strong, but my skin is very loose! Everything else on my body escaped pretty much unscathed, except my tummy which I am still self conscious of, but less so than in my younger days.

    If my pictures help any other mother to feel ‘normal’ (I mean, what’s that anyway??) then I’ll be happy. I spent too many years hating my body, despite the miracles it has performed.

    Time to accept it and begin to love myself again.

    Hymen Facts – Is Virginity Even REAL?

    Image text: Hymen Facts Image shows six sketches of hymens. First, a ring of tissue around the vaginal opening. Second a very thin ring of tissue. Third shows a vaginal opening nearly covered except for a sort of slit in the middle. Fourth shows two openings in the tissue. Fifth shows a medium-sized ring of tissue around the vaginal opening. Last shows a hymen with several small holes in it.

    Spoiler alert: nope! It’s a construct we made up! Read on for more info on hymens.

    Image shows a sketch of a vulva with text labeling the anatomy: clitoris, urethra, vaginal opening, and hymen, also called vaginal corona.

    Hymens don’t necessarily break when something is inserted into the vagina (1).
    And they can break without any vaginal insertion: through injury, or masturbation, etc (1).
    Hymens change in size, shape, and flexibility across a person’s lifespan (1).
    The hymen will often tear during the first vaginal birth (2).
    Hymens have very few blood vessels and may not even bleed when torn (1).
    There is no universal definition of the term “virginity” – its meaning varies by era, culture, and religion (3).
    Clinicians are not trained or educated on the complexities of the hymen (1).
    The term “intact hymen” has no anatomical correlate and should not be used (3).

    If you want this information in the social media formats or in a printable flyer you can use for your clients or students click here.


    1) Mishori, R. “The Little Tissue That Couldn’t
    2) Frye, Anne “Healing Passage
    3) WHO “Eliminating Virginity Testing
    4) drawings by Nina Reimer