Hello Brown Girls! I’m Dr. Aldene Zeno, MD, and I specialize in female pelvic medicine and pelvic reconstructive surgery. This is me IRL, working from home in the morning before clinic in the afternoon. Checking my operating room schedule, trying to keep up with work emails, and, oh yeah, pumping in between before I pick up my daughter from daycare at the end of the day. As a clinician and now a new mom, I’ve been on the lookout for content that reflects me — not just the medical stuff, but from women that look like me and not like InstaModels that have it all together. If you’re looking for women’s health content from a specialist in bladder, bowel, and lady bits (okay — uteri, cervices, and vaginas, just to name a few of the bits), then you’re in the right place.
Why for Brown Girls? As Bill Nye the Science Guy taught me during rainy days in elementary school, all humans are a shade of brown. But those beautiful, rich, darker shades of brown are, quite frankly, lacking among the book covers, pelvic health bloggers, and other resources specific to women’s health. I know this not just because of the predominantly White circles that make up my medical school, residency, fellowship, and now faculty experiences. I also know this as a patient — during my pregnancy I curated my own list of pregnancy reading (which I’ll share some day in another post). When you Google “Top Pregnancy Books” the authors and book cover photos are of mostly white men and women. When I downloaded the popular pregnancy and baby apps, most of the content was written by (and it seemed to be, for) White people.
Why should color matter when you’re talking about women’s health? Well, for one there’s the trust factor. Research has shown that patients of color trust their healthcare providers of color. Trust is important so that people feel heard, and that they in turn listen to their clinicians (I won’t site the sources here of that research. I just want to make this an off the cuff intro post, but happy to provide those sources if you’re interested).
Another thing — racial and cultural diversity truly enriches our experiences. There is so much about women’s health that relies on traditions, cultural background, and personal experiences. When it comes to treating pelvic pain, bladder leak, vaginal bulge, when we talk about the experience of pregnancy and having a baby or being postpartum — all of these things are not new. They’re as old as womanhood itself. Traditional western medicine is a part of the treatment for women’s health, but our surgeries and medicines are not perfect. I believe that we can enhance our own experiences by including diverse perspectives.
I want to highlight stories from women of all backgrounds: people who have tried non-traditional treatments; my friends that specialize in pelvic pain; my friends who are Pilates instructors or physiotherapists; my friends who wish their doctors actually listened.
I am also much more into the written word than the visual world. I can be “pretty” when I want to be — I once won a local pageant, used to model (briefly, while growing up in the Midwest for what that’s worth), and I just know that being Black and Filipino I have a certain look that gets noticed. But as I said above — this is me IRL, and I’m no Insta-model. I’d much rather put my efforts into a good blog post than editing videos/photos for content (though kuddos to those of you that do that regularly!).
So…welcome, everyone! I look forward to hearing your stories of pelvic health.