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How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine

Author: Michele Lent Hirsch

What happens when you’re expected to be healthy, building relationships, and starting your career but are faced with a life-altering medical condition?

When we meet a young woman with a serious illness, we tend to label her an outlier. But while we might think of young female patients as anomalies, they are, statistically, the primary demographic for many major illnesses. And they are also one of the most overlooked populations in our health-care system—a system that not only ignores young women to begin with, but women of color and trans women even more severely.

Research shows that doctors are more familiar with the way symptoms manifest in men and often fail to recognize equally dangerous ones in their female patients. Women are told they “look fine” and are overreacting to symptoms. They may also have doctors who talk down to them or even sexually harass them. In their personal lives, many women scramble to hide their symptoms and scars to avoid making their friends, partners, and coworkers uncomfortable. Health issues and disabilities further amplify what women already face regularly: warped beauty standards, workplace sexism, and mistrust of their own bodies.

Weaving together interviews with young women who have experienced severe illnesses, insights from scientists on the study of gender and illness, and her own harrowing story of coming of age with serious medical issues, Michele Lent Hirsch exposes just how much our gender norms hurt women who are already hurting, and how sexism prevails both in relationships and at the doctor’s office.
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“I know what it means to work really hard to conceal the pain, struggle, and heartache in one’s life, to appear ‘fine’ just for the sake of other people. Because the reality of my life might have made others momentarily uncomfortable, I’d hide my own discomfort. It’s a hard habit to break and one that women have become adept at, one that is reinforced in the way our society treats, talks about, and engages with women who are ill or struggling. Thank you, Michele, for freeing us from the burden of being fine and shining a light on all the hidden pain women have been working so hard to conceal.”
—Nora McInerny, podcast host for Terrible, Thanks for Asking and author of It’s Okay to Laugh


ISBN: 978-080702395-2
Publication Date: 2/27/2018
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $26.95
Format: Cloth
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: February 2018
(Backorder policy)