Hey there beauties! We hope you had a fantastic week and are feeling incredibly empowered today, as you should every day! With that in mind, this blog post is going to center around a topic, whether you are able bodied or disabled, we know you can relate to. Access to proper women's healthcare is a topic of conversation that doesn't get highlighted enough; so, today we are going to do what we do best and "open up the floodgates”, start a stronger dialog, and EMPOWER women of all abilities and backgrounds to use their voice for change!
In today's society, medical providers often innately have stereotypes or prejudices about women with disabilities, making assumptions or believing that we are asexual, childlike, or unable to have children. In turn, that often hinders their ability to provide quality accessible women's healthcare. This is where and when the voices of self-advocacy and change need to be heard.
As a 37 year old woman living with a disability (Cerebral Palsy), I have discovered over the years that access to quality accessible women's healthcare has been just another obstacle I have had to contend with and find myself advocating for more often than not. When you think about it, gynecological exams, regular pap smears, and general women's healthcare visits should be simple. I mean, it's all part of being a woman, right? Speaking bluntly, women with disabilities have breasts and vaginas and can have sex (gasp!). And a large majority of us even have children. Therefore, we are in need of regular pap smears, pelvic exams, birth control, mammograms, etc.
The sad truth is that for a lot of women, myself included, this experience is beyond frustrating. Finding doctors and/or medical professionals who understand and are sensitive to the fact that yes, we do have some challenges when it comes to our bodies, but no we are not different, can be a daunting task. Both physical and attitudinal barriers within the medical field often cause women with disabilities not to seek the care they need. For a lot of women, this means long term irreversible damage that could have easily been prevented. It has become too easy for medical professionals to see us as individuals living with disabilities and our diagnosis and not as people first. This narrow minded way of thinking must change.
Personally, I think that more doctors and healthcare providers need to be better informed on how to treat people with disabilities. It is my belief that the first step to doing so is with a simple conversation between patient and provider allowing them to feel at ease with one another. Secondly, education is key - diversity training which includes working with individuals who have various types of disabilities should be a main focus of any and all medical school curriculum. This type of education should continue throughout the provider’s career, allowing physicians to change and evolve as each of their patients do.
Having a voice and being a strong self-advocate when it comes to accessible healthcare is of the utmost importance. After all, who knows your body better than you? It is understood that doctors may be a bit apprehensive when it comes to something they are unfamiliar with like disability. However, that is when you as a woman must be empowered and use your voice to express your needs. At Slick Chicks we hope that one day all people with disabilities can access the care that they need, without any barriers. It is crazy to think that 28 years after the passage of the ADA, we as people with disabilities still have to fight for basic healthcare and to be treated normal. Slick Chicks wants to remind you that it only takes one strong voice to change the perspectives of many!
We also cannot emphasize enough the importance for women of all abilities to receive the proper screenings. THEY ARE LIFE SAVING!
Slick Chicks is a proud supporter of accessible women’s healthcare and universal design in hospitals and clinics everywhere. It all starts with you!
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See ya in your skivvies!
Shannon and the Slick Chicks Team