Put down your teeth whitening kits, California… this sh*t is real. Take a minute to study this healthcare ad above… It’s a real ad, from a real Los Angeles magazine, read by real people.
I’m still trying to figure out why I was so shocked by this. Perhaps the notion of selling a health service isn’t something we Brits are used to, but still – just look at it! It appears Best Price Evaluations Medical Services (catchy name, by the way) are offering an October Special, awesome. And what’s more, you’ll get seen by this super sexy doctor who definitely topped the charts at Harvard. She’s got ‘experienced and trustworthy’ smeared all over her, albeit with foundation and lip gloss. Non-prescript glasses are a nice touch though, if only my GP was cast in the role of a 1950’s secretary.
Sarcastic onslaught aside, what started as an entertaining discovery at a coffee house in Hermosa Beach, has since descended into a self-actualising critique of US health history. Namely, the forced sterilisation program of the 20th Century.
Compulsory sterilisation was first proposed by Gordon Lincecum in 1849, a Texan biologist who believed that genes of the mentally disabled and undesirable sectors of society should be made impassable. In a movement that spanned dozens of countries, including Nazi Germany; the following 100+ years saw the mentally ill pooled with the black; the poor; the deaf; the blind; the physically deformed and even criminals. They all faced sterilisation at some point or another, many against their will, many without even knowing…
In 1968, Elaine Riddick was raped by a neighbour who threatened to kill her if she told what happened. She was 13, the daughter of violent and abusive parents in the desperately poor country town of Winfall, North Carolina. Whilst she was giving birth in hospital, a social worker deemed her “feeble-minded” and petitioned the state Eugenics Board to have her sterilised. Officials coerced her illiterate grandmother into signing an “x” on an authorisation form. After performing a Caesarean section, doctors sterilised her “just like cutting a hog”, she says.
In total, over 60,000 Americans were sterilised under eugenics laws; laws that were eventually abolished in 1981 – a mere 30 years ago. Suddenly, a tasteless magazine ad doesn’t seem quite so barbaric.