Surgery, Lipstick, and the rise of #GirlMedTwitter
By: Student Dr. Meow, @DoctorMeowskis
If you are not already acquainted with the hashtag on Twitter known as #GirlMedTwitter, then here’s a quick backstory: it all began on a thread of tweets about my first date with a cardiologist who would later be affectionately named McPager. In this thread, another user @McSassyMD came up with the term girl med twitter and @McSexyMD introduced the hashtag #GirlMedTwitter to the world, as we happily chatted about my date with other Twitter users. We covered what I should wear to my second date, the fact he shook my hand and then kissed my cheek, and the age old question of if a woman should text first after a good date. It honestly felt like I was at a slumber party with my best girlfriends all while I was standing in my kitchen; it felt good, it felt like I had a community.
While the trend of #GirlMedTwitter has become a very popular rallying cry for pre-meds, medical students, residents, and even attendings – there has been some backlash. Often from men who say they do not feel included (which they always are if they want to join in on a discussion of which eyeliner lasts longest during a 30 hour shift) but sometimes more surprisingly from other women who mock the ladies of the #GirlMedTwitter community. Some for being “too interested” in “basic” things like makeup or what outfits to wear to interviews, or others for the popularity of “stethoscopes and lipstick” anonymous accounts.
I see where these women are coming from; being in a male dominated field often feels like we as women have to stifle our femininity just to get a seat at the medical table. This is the same field which even my own grandfather said that women should not be doctors because we want to have families (as if that is a bad thing). It becomes easy to take that judgement and internalize it. I remember being an engineering major, another male dominated field, and any time a female left the major to pursue something else some of the women would hate her for leaving, for not being “tough enough” to stick it through the entire course. It was almost as if those women believed you were not good enough if you were not 100% invested in engineering.
It does not help that our media often supports the idea that women can only pursue one thing in life: being a woman or having a career. Take the very popular show Sex and the City – Miranda, the hard working lawyer, is portrayed as a woman with very little interest in anything other than law and is rarely shown wearing makeup or with her hair done. Meanwhile, Carrie, the one obsessed with shoes, is portrayed as a woman who does not take her career as seriously and is willing to leave it if the love of her life swept her off her feet. Some of us women have accepted the trope that as a woman, you’re either beautiful or you’re intelligent. If you’re interested in anything other than your career, in things typically deemed for “women,” then you must be a vapid girl who cannot be truly serious about medicine.
That is where #GirlMedTwitter becomes an inspiration for so many! We are fighting the belief that women are these one dimensional characters that can only handle one good characteristic at a time, either beauty or brains. We are here to show that we can like matching our lipstick to our stethoscope (something I’m guilty of) as well as have a serious interest in medicine. We are allowed to like things deemed otherwise feminine and care about our appearance. When I look good, I feel good! When I feel good, I’m confident enough to do what needs to be done – in life and in medicine!
There is absolutely nothing wrong or trite with wanting to make yourself feel good, in fact, it makes for better students and doctors. The only way that we can break the stereotype of these one dimensional female characters is to show that strong, intelligent women also indeed do like lipstick and daydreaming about their future weddings. #GirlMedTwitter allows us to showcase our femininity in a supportive community, and it allows others to see that yes a doctor or medical student (or a nurse, EMT, tech, etc.) can be successful in her career as well as a human being with human interests. The more we tweet, the more we expose the fallacy in the belief that women who are serious about their careers have completely removed themselves from anything feminine.
Yes, being a woman in medicine can mean things other than makeup and dating. Yet so often in our professional lives we are caught up constantly touting our academic and professional accomplishments so the old boys club does not forget our successes. Women are awesome doctors and #GirlMedTwitter can be a place to share those accomplishments and have people of our community celebrate them. However, #GirlMedTwitter is also a community where you do not have to prove yourself to anyone, we already know you are special, we already know you are as smart as the boys. Come have a seat, relax, and tell us about your latest date or your favorite shoes to wear during clinic. We’re listening.
Student Dr. Meowskis is a 2nd year medical student interested in internal med/cardiology.. She can be reached via her twitter account at @DoctorMeowskis.
What do you think of the rise of #GirlMedTwitter? Do you use the hashtag? Give us your thoughts in the comments section!
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