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2020 Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling, Ongoing Series finalist

Bodies

Season 2

About the Project

Bodies is a documentary podcast. Each episode of Bodies is the journey of one person (specifically women and marginalized genders) to solve their medical mystery. It combines intimate, nuanced storytelling with health reporting to uncover the societal layers that affect health, like racism, sexism, and capitalism.

We are highlighting and submitting three episodes from season 2:

“Not Tested on Humans” is about dangerous unregulated medical devices, the lack of transparency at the FDA, and the failure of pharmaceutical companies to look out for the health and safety of their customers. It looks specifically at transvaginal mesh — a device that was never tested on women before it went to market. It’s had disastrous health effects. We investigate these issues through the personal story of Melynda, whose health has been severely impacted by vaginal mesh.

“The Cost of Silky Soft” is about Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based baby powder. For decades, J&J was aware that their baby powder had traces of asbestos, a cancer-causing mineral. But they failed to disclose it to the public or the FDA. We follow the story of Krystal, a Black woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after decades of using baby powder, including in her pelvic area. This story investigates the lack of regulation for cosmetics, outdated legislation, and J&J’s failure to look out for the safety of its customers. We also investigate the racial component of this story, and how J&J targeted Black women through advertising suggesting that they use this product on their underwear to stay “fresh and clean.” We look into the history of racist and sexist marketing.

“Invisible Impact” is about intimate partner violence and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The story centers around Stacie, who after years of being hit and berated by her partner, suffered from debilitating TBIs. But because research around TBIs has focused primarily on NFL players and war veterans, doctors and even advocates in IPV are not aware of the widespread connection between IPV and TBIs. In this episode, we meet Dr. Eve Valera who has dedicated her career to studying this underreported and under-researched correlation.