Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Eating Disorders: Latin@s At Risk

About ten percent of Americans struggle with eating disorders – that’s true across every ethnicity. But in the Latino community, eating disorders often go under-reported and undiagnosed. There’s evidence to suggest that being multicultural makes Latinos particularly susceptible.

It can be hard for any parent to recognize the signs of an eating disorder, and awareness tends to be particularly low among immigrants and people of color.

Anahi Ortega was 12 when she started developing an eating disorder. A year and a half later, her parents started to suspect something was wrong, “The first clues were weight and my social life and behavior really changed.”

Corazon Tierra recovered from an eating disorder 20 years ago. “My mom was always on a diet to lose weight,” says Tierra, “at a very early age I became very concerned about my weight and by the time I was a teenager, my eating disorder was already in full force.”

 

GETTING TREATMENT

 

Sometimes it’s easier for Latino families to acknowledge the issues as a physical problem rather than a mental one.

“My mom would try to feed me home remedies to open my appetite,” says Tierra, “but I refused to do that, I refused to take any home remedies or anything like that.”

But going to the doctor sometimes comes with its own challenges.

“They concluded that I had an eating disorder and brought my parents in to talk to them,” says Ortega, “but it was a little hard because they didn’t speak English and I was the translator and so I was able to share what I wanted.”

There are cultural barriers to seeking help, like the costs of pursuing treatment and the general stigma of mental health treatment. Add to that the pressure of constantly straddling two cultures.

 

SOCIETAL PRESSURES AT ODDS

 

“We are supposed to look very skinny and very beautiful and in shape but we’re also supposed to be eating and enjoying food with our loved ones,” says Tierra, “so there’s a double message that is very tense and it creates disruption.”

Dr. Ioana Boie is a psychotherapist at the Prosperity Eating Disorders and Wellness Center. “Someone who grew up in a Latino community where the standards of appearance are related to having a curvier body type, and then goes to a school into a primarily caucasian institution and standards of appearance and eating habits and eating norms are all different and these are all pressures that will put somebody at an increased risk.”

When food is so closely tied with family life, it can take on a whole other meaning. That is to say, eating disorders are never completely about food.

“In my experience the eating disorder started as anorexia but it was hard to maintain because food is such an important part of my culture and it’s always being presented and pushed,” says Ortega.

“I think you receive two types of messages,” says Dr. Boie, “you receive messages that food is fun and celebration and eat eat eat … but when you step out of that culture you’re supposed to be thin now.”

 

 

 

 

 

CHOOSING RECOVERY

 

To get help, Latinos first have to overcome the stigma of getting help.

“I think admitting it within our family will have to force other family members to acknowledge that issue as well,” says Ortega, “we couldn’t do that because we wanted to keep our family in the perfect appearance.”

Because eating disorders are not talked about, many Latinos think they’re rare. Almost half of all Americans personally know somebody with an eating disorder.

“An eating disorder is primarily believed to be a white middle class, or upper class women’s issue,” says Dr. Boie, “that puts Latinos and Latinas at risk for minimizing the fact that they have eating disorder.”

Men are over 10 percent of those with an eating disorder.

“There further is the belief that this is not a serious problem, it is something that will pass,” says Tierra.

But eating disorders never just go away, they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Unlike a purely physical illness, patients can’t recover unless they choose to let go their old habits, which can be really scary.

 

BUILDING A SUPPORT NETWORK

 

They need to rely on the people around them for support, even when those people don’t really understand what they’re going through.”

“I had to say ‘it’s not okay when you say que estoy gorda,’” says Ortega, “at times I had to step out of the house and say ‘I have to leave because I don’t feel safe and I don’t feel comfortable with how you’re treating me,”

“It was a messy process really, it wasn’t harmoniously done, but it was done,” says Tierra, “now they know what to say and how to say it and they know how to support me in a better way.”

Even the word for eating disorders in Spanish - trastorno alimentario- is scary. It means something like a mental hurricane. Recovery is a hard road, but with hard work comes hope.

“I had the genes and I had the environment that just triggered the eating disorder at a young age,” says Ortega, “after 10 years I was finally able to find recovery.”

“I have been free of eating disorders for almost 20 years now and I always say that I’m not only recovered, I am healed, because I never went back to that behavior,” says Tierra, “I never felt the need to go back to that behavior.”

Not just recovery, but healing.

 

If you or somebody you know is struggling with an eating disorder contact the National Eating Disorders Association. You may reach their Helpline at (800) 931-2237..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Flickr User Zachary Locks

Breastfeeding While Latina

Latinas lead the pack when it comes to breastfeeding their babies at birth – more than 80 percent of Latina moms do. More Latinas nurse their children at 12 months than any other ethnic group in the country. But there are still a lot of misconceptions about breastfeeding, and a lot of pressure to get it “right” – whatever that means.

 

“NOT ENOUGH”

 

Yuliana Delgado really felt this pressure. She had read all of the parenting books, but one thing wasn’t according to plan. “I was pumping every 2 – 3 hours, I would get up through the night and pump,” says Delgado, “I was drinking maltas like you wouldn’t believe to try to increase the production and nothing was working.

After struggling for 2 months, she made a decision. “I realized I had to start supplementing not only for my baby’s sake, but I was wreck,” says Delgado.

 

“WAY TOO LONG”

 

Luisa Colón was dealing with a completely different breastfeeding problem. She lived in a large Puerto Rican community in Brooklyn. She says the Latinas around her were shocked that she was still nursing her 20 month old. “It was this moment of “you’re still breastfeeding?” says Colón, “I think the expectation was that that’s what you do early on, you supplement with formula, you move on to formula, the breastfeeding gets left behind.”

Colón felt like she had to defend her personal choice to strangers. “I was constantly being told that my baby wasn’t chubby enough, he’s so small, oh how old did you say he was and how much does he weigh?” says Colón, “I must have had to answer that a dozen times.”

 

MISCONCEPTIONS ALL AROUND

 

Sharen Medrano is a local lactation consultant, and she says she hears this a lot. “Some of this stems from the misconceptions,” says Medrano, “some of it stems from some in the Latino community thinking that babies have to be chunky and chubby to be healthy when in fact most breastfed babies tend to be on the leaner end.”

 

THE MOMMMY WARS

 

The argument about how much to breastfeed really takes off online. “There’s so much judgement out there,” says Delgado, “I felt like that’s great that moms are able to breastfeed and that the support is out there, but once I decided to do formula, I felt like there wasn’t that much support out there.”

And on the other side of the breastfeeding spectrum, Luia Colón also felt a lack of support. “I was used to being a Latina who got a lot of support from fellow Latinas just being out in public, and suddenly it wasn’t there,” says Colón.

 

A SAFETY NET

 

A strong support network at home is crucial, “I was really fortunate that we went home to a supportive environment, my partner and my family,” says Colón.

Yuliana Delgado eventually found a way to be at peace with her choice.

“My mom was the provider of the maltas, so I did get some pressure from her, but she understood after she saw what a wreck I was that it was just not going to be possible for me to do it,” says Delgado.

There’s so many factors to consider to deciding whether you want to breastfeed and for how long.

“In the end it’s your baby, and you know what’s right and you know what feels right and what you want to do,” says Medrano.

 

IGNORE THE HATERS

 

As in so many health decisions, when it comes to breastfeeding, ignore the haters. Feel free to make your own choices, but know what you’re getting into.

After all, breastfeeding is just the start of the mommy wars.

 

 

contributors1

 

BrendaSalinasBefore coming on board as an associate producer with Latino USA, Brenda Salinas was awarded the highly competitive Kroc Fellowship at NPR. She has reported pieces for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Weekends on All Things Considered and for KUHF Houston Public Radio. In college, she started her campus’ only student run foreign-language publication, Nuestras Voces. Brenda has a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University.

Planned Parenthood And Young Latin@s

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards talks to Maria Hinojosa about the young Latin@ leaders she’s met and why they view reproductive rights as part of a much larger human rights fight, including immigration reform and access to healthcare.

A1_Ceclie_Headshot_HR As president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Ms. Richards leads a movement that has worked for nearly 100 years to build a healthier and safer world for women and teens. Since joining Planned Parenthood in 2006, Ms. Richards has expanded its advocacy for access to health care and ensured that Planned Parenthood played a pivotal role in shaping health care coverage and services for women under the Affordable Care Act.

 

 

Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Deception or Salvation?

It’s been 40 years since Roe v. Wade, but the abortion war rages on.

It’s out on the streets, in the courts, in state legislatures.

But there’s also a quieter fight going on, in the waiting rooms of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), places created to discourage women from getting abortions.

Sometimes called pregnancy resource centers, they are non-profit organizations that generally provide peer counseling related to abortion, pregnancy and childbirth. Some also provide non-medical services like financial assistant or adoption referrals.

The majority of CPCs are run by pro-life Christian organizations.

They have commercials like these all over the country:

 

 

 

 

Pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood have criticized CPCs for posing as medical facilities, and using intimidation to disseminate false medical information to clients.

 

 

“IT WAS A LOT OF SLUT SHAMING”

Feminist writer Jaclyn Munson went undercover to a crisis pregnancy center in New York City.

“A woman walking into this facility would definitely think this could be a medical facility,” says Munson, “there were white lab coats, they did have the model fetuses out, they did have a lot of pamphlets that looked like medical pamphlets.”

Munson says she was quickly ushered into a room to talk privately with a counselor who told her she was too pretty to be having sex before marriage.

“They build up a great trust with these women, they’re really nice, they’re really friendly, but at the end of the day, you’re a slut who got pregnant and we have to help you so that you never get in this situation again.

But pretty soon, according to Munson, it went from slut shaming to outright misinforming.

“It was a lot of heavy lecturing about breast cancer being implanted in breast cancer and these things that have been scientifically refuted.”

Munson’s experience inside a CPC is echoes the findings from undercover investigations conducted by NARAL Pro Choice chapters all over the country.

 

 

A GODSEND TO WOMEN IN NEED

Rai Rojas, Latino Outreach Director for Right To Life, defends the crisis pregnancy centers’ practices.

These resources are a godsend for a pregnant woman in need, says Rojas, “We hook her up with food stamps, aid from the state, the city and the federal government.”

And Rojas insists, the CPCs aren’t set up to mislead women.

“Crisis Pregnancy Centers aren’t set up to be health care centers, we’re there to provide information that they do not receive at abortion clinics,” says Rojas.

 

WHERE DOES THE LAW STAND?

But the New York City Council didn’t see it their way.

In 2011, it passed a consumer protection law requiring CPCs to openly specify the services they don’t provide and to disclose whether or not they have a medical doctor on staff.

“The law we passed here in this city is pretty simple,” says former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, “It says, ‘say what you are, say whether you’re a medical office, say if you provide abortion services, say if you provide emergency contraception.’”

The American Center for Law And Justice, which is like a Christian version of the ACLU, argued that the law was violating the crisis pregnancy center’s First Amendment rights.

A federal court first blocked the law, but in January, most of it was upheld by a federal appeals court.

Both sides interpreted this as a victory.

Now, the centers don’t have to disclose whether they provide referrals for emergency contraception, abortion or prenatal care.

“They sided for the most part on the side of the crisis pregnancy centers and said you can’t legislate freedom of speech,” says Rai Rojas from Right to Life, “It’s guaranteed in the first amendment that we can say pretty much what we want and the government can’t prohibit us from saying what we need and want to say.”

But they do have to say whether or not they have a doctor on staff, what kind of services they don’t provide, and they have to protect their clients’ privacy.

“A woman has a right to know when she walks into an office if it’s a medical facility or it’s not,” says former New York City councilwoman Jessica Lapin, “these women give incredibly personal information to these centers and this bill requires them to treat that confidentially.”

 

NO CLEAR WINNER OR LOSER

More than two dozen crisis pregnancy centers are still operating in New York City:

 

cpc map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And their day-to-day looks pretty much the same.

During the appeals court hearing, the CPCs admitted to purposefully setting up shop as close as possible to registered women’s health clinics.

They also place Spanish-speaking volunteers out on the street to usher Latina women into their doors.

It’s a moral war they’re waging, says Rojas.

“I’ll make it easy for you, the single most dangerous place for a Latino in these United States today is in his mother’s womb.”

And as long as they believe that to be true, this fight’s not going anywhere.

 

contributors1

 

BrendaSalinasBefore coming on board as an associate producer with Latino USA, Brenda Salinas was awarded the highly competitive Kroc Fellowship at NPR. She has reported pieces for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Weekends on All Things Considered and for KUHF Houston Public Radio. In college, she started her campus’ only student run foreign-language publication, Nuestras Voces. Brenda has a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University.

 

 

Promoting Health and Community in D.C.

Washington, D.C. suffers from more than one health crisis. And the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services in D.C. just happens to be a Latina. She tells Maria Hinojosa how her cultural dexterity can be an asset in a job that requires her to work across government departments, from law enforcement to housing to health access. They also discuss drug use and HIV, and how the city is tackling both of these problems.

 

 

C1_BBbiodcgovAppointed Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services by District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray in February 2011, Beatriz “BB” Otero oversees ten health and human services city agencies responsible for the delivery of services to the district’s residents. Her office supports the Mayor in coordinating a comprehensive system of benefits, goods and services across multiple agencies to ensure that children, youth, and adults, with and without disabilities, can lead healthy, meaningful and productive lives.

 

#1349 – Let’s Talk About Sex

In this week’s show, we focus on how Latinas think about themselves as sexual beings, and the constraints on their decisions about sex and reproduction. We hear from one woman whose decision to end a pregnancy brings up memories of a history of control of women of color’s fertility. We also examine how changes in funding of public health clinics in Texas have affected the choices of tens of thousands of women in the state. And we tell you the stories of some of the nearly two million people who have been deported during the Obama administration.

Photo Courtesy of Spike Walker, via Flickr

What’s The Matter With Texas?

Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

The Rio-Grande valley is one of the poorest areas of our country. Prior to 2011, the women of the region depended on state-funded clinics for healthcare and family planning services. That was the year that the republican-held state legislature passed one of the leanest budgets in state history.

According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the number of women receiving services in the region was reduced by 75% after the cuts.

Clinics2 Clinics2 Clinics2

Those were part of an effort by the republican-held state legislatures around the country to defund Planned Parenthood clinics, whether or not they performed abortions.

Jessica González Rojas is the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. She says The so-called “affiliate rule” was designed to punish clinics affiliated with abortion providers.

“It was an effort to curb women’s reproductive health access and access to family planning services such as contraception, pap smears and breast exams,” Rojas says.

The report also found that since many Latino families in the Rio Grande Valley lack health insurance, those family planning clinics were often the only place in the community women could get any health care at all.

“There’s longer and longer delays to accessing that care and less and less subsidies, so for the low income women women that we work with, they can’t afford the payments, they can’t afford access to the tests,” says Rojas.

 Losing Your Job

After the cuts, Paula Saldaña lost her job as a community educator for a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brownsville, Texas.

Now she continues to give workshops on reproductive health as a volunteer. She says the women she counsels have become desperate for screenings and medications.

“Between themselves they would say, ‘I have a friend that can get some from Mexico’ or ‘They sell some at the flea market,’ and of course I would try to tell them ‘You know, you really do need for it to be prescribed and it needs to be under the care of a doctor,” but they would turn around and they were right, ‘where do we go now? Where do we go now that is not going to charge me $500 or $600 dollars for a cheap biopsy?’”

Saldaña says she has no answers for the women under her care. There is nowhere she can send them. She even struggles to access her own care.

“I have not gotten a pap smear since my last baby was born and he’s going to be 3 in December,” she says “Cost is the main reason, I do have transportation but I have nowhere to go, the clinics I can access, but the appointments they can give me are for a whole year or six months away.”

Lawmakers Weigh In

Last spring, the republican-majority Texas legislature reinstated some of the family planning budget, but it’s uncertain whether the money restored will be enough to repair the damage done to the state’s reproductive health system.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says Leticia Van De Putte. She’s the Texas state senator that stood with Senator Wendy Davis during that 11 hour filibuster to block HB-2, legislation that would eventually pass to create new abortion regulations in Texas.

She says the cuts to the budget mean a complete lack of access for Latinas in rural communities.  “We know that when women are able to access those family planning services, that they’re able to plan their pregnancies and plan their families,” says Van De Putte, “It seems to me that it would be very cost effective to our state if we would just make sure that women have the access to the reproductive health services that they desperately need.”

Last week, Van De Putte declared she will be seeking the democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor in 2014.

While Van de Putte was standing with Wendy Davis against HB-2, another Latino member of the Texas House of Representatives made a passionate speech in favor of the abortion law.

Jason Villaba says as an official, he is responsible for protecting people both outside and inside the womb.

“Take a look at the Republican perspective. We don’t do this as an attack on women’s reproductive rights, we do this because we believe we are in a battle to protect the most vulnerable in our society, the unborn,” he says.

He takes offense at the idea that the 2011 cuts were a sign that the Republican legislature was waging a war on women.

“So the option that we gave the clinics was either you can abandon your relationship with Planned Parenthood and establish your own clinics or we’re going to be forced to de-fund you because we already made this decision in a previous legislature under previous law that we are prohibited from funding those clinics that have Planned Parenthood resources.”

Villaba says his party has taken some first steps to give disadvantaged citizens adequate health care without relying on outside providers like Planned Parenthood.

“One of the ways we’re doing that is by looking at Texas-based clinics that were funded in the 2013 legislative session, we did put some money back into some clinics that were able to provide healthcare services for women.”

Latinas Are The Key

Senator Van de Putte believes that if reproductive rights are going to change in Texas, it will be because of Latinas.  “If Latinas engaged around reproductive health … it would be over, it would be not just a different conversation, it would be a different outcome,” she says.

The obstacle, she says, is to convince Latinas that their votes matter.

“If they only would realize that their discussions could lead their other family members to be empowered enough to make the decisions different, so that the next generations of Latinas won’t have to face the same sorts of disrespect.”

 

 

 

 

This Week’s Captions: CAGED

THIS WEEK’S SHOW:

This week, Latino USA focuses on literal and metaphorical cages, from education programs and art within prison walls to kidnapping in Mexico. We’ll hear how one former inmate helps people transition to life on the outside. Also: one performance artist’s take on being paralyzed, a Cuban blogger, and life in a boxcar settlement. All this, and fighting police harrassment with Facebook.

ABOUT CAPTIONING:

Latino USA, the foremost Latino voice in public media and the longest running Latino-focused program on radio, is the first radio program to commence equal-access distribution via Captioning for Radio. “Research has shown that Latino children have a higher incidence of hearing loss and deafness than other populations,” according to Latino USA’s Anchor & Executive Producer Maria Hinojosa. “When the opportunity to break this sound barrier came to our attention, we were pleased to embrace this new technology developed by NPR Labs and Towson University for the thousands of Latinos with serious hearing loss.”

The International Center for Accessible Radio Technology (ICART), a strategic alliance between NPR and Towson University, is co-directed by Mike Starling of NPR and Ellyn Sheffield of Towson University.

For each week’s captioning, check back on http://latinousa.org/captions.

Trapped In Your Own Body

Guillermo Gómez-Peña is one of the country’s leading performance artists and director of the performance art troupe “La Pocha Notra.” Maria Hinojosa speaks to Gómez-Peña about a rare disease he contracted that quickly paralyzed him and turned him into a prisoner in his own body.

Photo from “La Pocha Nostra” archives.

ggp2Guillermo Gómez-Peña was born in 1955 and raised in Mexico City. He came to the US in 1978. His work, which includes performance art, video, audio, installations, poetry, journalism, and cultural theory, explores cross-cultural issues, immigration, the politics of language, “extreme culture” and new technologies in the era of globalization. A MacArthur fellow, he is a regular contributor to the national radio news magazine All Things Considered (National Public Radio), a writer for newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Mexico, and a contributing editor to The Drama Review (MIT).

Gómez-Peña’s performance and installation work has been presented at over seven hundred venues across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, the Soviet Union, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil and Argentina. Among numerous fellowships and prizes, Gómez-Peña was a recipient of the Prix de la Parole at the 1989 International Theatre of the Americas (Montreal), the 1989 New York Bessie Award, and the Los Angeles Music Center’s 1993 Viva Los Artistas Award. In 1991, Gómez-Peña became the first Chicano/Mexicano artist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship (1991-1996). In 1995, he was included in The UTNE Reader’s “List of 100 Visionaries.” In 1997 he received the American Book Award for The New World Border. In 2000, he received the Cineaste lifetime achievement award from the Taos Talking Pictures film festival. Photo from “La Pocha Nostra” archives.

To see more of Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s work check out “La Pocha Nostra” website.

Trust: Growing And Overcoming Through Theatre

We talk about “TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives,” a new documentary where a young Latina immigrant works with an Illinois based theater company to create a play from her harrowing true-life story.

“TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives” aired on PBS WORLD America ReFramed series on October 29, 2013. Watch the full documentary here: TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives.

B3_NancyKellyNancy Kelly is a director, writer, and producer. She has collaborated with editor and producer Kenji Yamamoto to create a documentary trilogy about the transformative power of art. The trilogy includes: “TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives” follows a Honduran teen whose real life story of trauma is unveiled in a daring original play performed by immigrant teenage members of Chicago’s Albany Park Theater Project; “Smitten,” examines art collector Rene di Rosa, who is smitten by art; and “Downside Up,” a film about how America’s largest museum of contemporary art, MASS MoCA, revived Kelly’s dying home town.  She also directed and produced the narrative feature “Thousand Pieces of Gold,” starring Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper, which was developed through the Sundance Institute. Photo courtesy of Amy Braswell.

B3_JesseCarloHeadshotJesse Carlo is a seasoned artist practitioner and scholar with over 20 years of experience in performance, direction, choreography and interdisciplinary arts education. Jesse is currently a faculty member in the Arts & Humanities at Miami Dade College and completing his Ph.D. in Humanities & Culture at Union Institute & University. Jesse is passionate about the ways the arts serve as a linguistic medium that surpasses the cerebral intellectual processes by simultaneously engaging the mind, body and spirit of the arts practitioner and observer. He firmly believes that through the arts we find healing and build solidarity.

B3_MarlinMarlin currently lives in the greater Chicago area. Photo courtesy of Amy Braswell.

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