Nursing Portrayed as Fat, Frumpy and Fifty

Photo
ednurses, 2008 Fall Specialty Guide

How many more times are we as a profession going to perpetrate the stereotype that nurses are old, fat, frumpy women? I was so irritated with the most recent cover of the journal “ednurses” I almost cursed my way to the house from my mailbox.

The nurse on the cover is highly educated clinical nurse specialist who works at Boston General Hospital. Why in the HELL did they use such an unflattering photograph of her FOR THE COVER? I don’t know a whole lot about photography, but could a more horrendous angle have been used? Why didn’t someone dress her in a great blue or pale green shirt that would have flattered her short, sassy blond hair?

This woman probably has decades of irreplaceable experience. Does that radiate from the pages? Nope. Instead, I see is a judgmental, physically unhealthy, poorly dressed nurse who is scowling at an emotionally distraught patient.

That is far from representing the compassion, intelligence, and professionalism of nursing. Makes me want to . . . wait, what is the point of the cover?

Oh yeah, “Managing Mental Health in the ED.”

If we want to be taken seriously as a profession a bit of wise marketing on even the smallest level would do wonders. Not only do we need to look in the mirror and see how we are physically representing our profession while in the hospital or clinic, we need to find a way to ensure that when being represented in the media we put our best face forward.

Oh, and for the record? I used the age Fifty because the alliteration worked. If this is what 50 really is, sign me up.

Madonna50Small

  1. Em,

    The hottest nurse that comes to mind was this CPT I saw/drooled over in 1991. She was serving in Saudi Arabia at the 2nd Combat Surgical Hospital- 2nd CSH. A very hot brunette. She would have been a great poster child. Or how about the recent Miss Utah/GI Jill- a newly minted 2LT in the Army Nurse Corps? And considering that I live very close to a nursing hospital, I see many very MILF-class nurses. I guess they would be classified as NILFs. Your comments are valid. We are as a society very beauty oriented. Unfortunately, your abilities are ignored or diminished somehow if you are not attractive. Numerous studies support this yet we continue to let it be perpetuated. Sex sells. Ok, I am off to the local strip bar after a stop at Hooters. Will be thinking of you. Kisses.

  2. Em,

    The hottest nurse that comes to mind was this CPT I saw/drooled over in 1991. She was serving in Saudi Arabia at the 2nd Combat Surgical Hospital- 2nd CSH. A very hot brunette. She would have been a great poster child. Or how about the recent Miss Utah/GI Jill- a newly minted 2LT in the Army Nurse Corps? And considering that I live very close to a nursing hospital, I see many very MILF-class nurses. I guess they would be classified as NILFs. Your comments are valid. We are as a society very beauty oriented. Unfortunately, your abilities are ignored or diminished somehow if you are not attractive. Numerous studies support this yet we continue to let it be perpetuated. Sex sells. Ok, I am off to the local strip bar after a stop at Hooters. Will be thinking of you. Kisses.

  3. I actually was going to add stuff about Miss Utah, but it didn’t fit with the post. She is freekin’ awesome.

    Make no mistake, however. My point is not to sex-ify nursing, but to sell the profession to the public. There has got to be a balance between realism and the crazy porn based nurse fantasy stuff. However, I KNOW there are a bunch of you meat-heads who enjoy it………that is ok too.

  4. I actually was going to add stuff about Miss Utah, but it didn’t fit with the post. She is freekin’ awesome.

    Make no mistake, however. My point is not to sex-ify nursing, but to sell the profession to the public. There has got to be a balance between realism and the crazy porn based nurse fantasy stuff. However, I KNOW there are a bunch of you meat-heads who enjoy it………that is ok too.

  5. MMMM, meat. But alas, I am kosher. I do not mix cheese and women. HAHA. I agree with your point that they can do a better job for a poster child. It is a balancing act. Realistic examples of hotness without resorting to sexifying it can really promote a profession. Jabba the not-hot nurse will not engender young students to pursue that career.

    And any discussion of GI Jill helps things out. I have one of her pilots in my class right now. He says she is all that.

  6. MMMM, meat. But alas, I am kosher. I do not mix cheese and women. HAHA. I agree with your point that they can do a better job for a poster child. It is a balancing act. Realistic examples of hotness without resorting to sexifying it can really promote a profession. Jabba the not-hot nurse will not engender young students to pursue that career.

    And any discussion of GI Jill helps things out. I have one of her pilots in my class right now. He says she is all that.

  7. That certainly isn’t a flattering photo of the nurse and they should have done better by her… but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that only physically attractive people should be on the cover of magazines (whatever profession they represent). I suppose I’m mildly annoyed by the continued representation of physicians as older white males… but when they switch those out for “Doctor McDreamy” and “Dr. 90210” it doesn’t make me feel much better. I wish we had better media representation of both nurses and physicians. Maybe it’s up to us, Crzegrl, to show people what real (smart, talented, feminine) nurses and doctors are like? Keep blogging! 🙂

  8. That certainly isn’t a flattering photo of the nurse and they should have done better by her… but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that only physically attractive people should be on the cover of magazines (whatever profession they represent). I suppose I’m mildly annoyed by the continued representation of physicians as older white males… but when they switch those out for “Doctor McDreamy” and “Dr. 90210” it doesn’t make me feel much better. I wish we had better media representation of both nurses and physicians. Maybe it’s up to us, Crzegrl, to show people what real (smart, talented, feminine) nurses and doctors are like? Keep blogging! 🙂

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more! It drives me nuts when nurses are portrayed so badly. I used to work in marketing and know how important image is. And it is not that hard to do! Why don’t we have better marketing people working for nursing publications/groups/etc? That is part of the reason that I always try to look professional at the hospital.
    Thanks for you post!

  10. I couldn’t agree with you more! It drives me nuts when nurses are portrayed so badly. I used to work in marketing and know how important image is. And it is not that hard to do! Why don’t we have better marketing people working for nursing publications/groups/etc? That is part of the reason that I always try to look professional at the hospital.
    Thanks for you post!

  11. Ok as a photographer, I have to weigh in on this one. Yeah the angle is absolutely terrible… I can understand what kind of viewpoint the photographer was looking for but he/she could have changed the angle to better capture this image. The way I would shoot this is similar but I would have modified my angles to make the image present the professionalism and compassion. I would have also asked the nurse to change her expression.

    She is probably horrified to see the way that she is portrayed on his cover.

  12. Ok as a photographer, I have to weigh in on this one. Yeah the angle is absolutely terrible… I can understand what kind of viewpoint the photographer was looking for but he/she could have changed the angle to better capture this image. The way I would shoot this is similar but I would have modified my angles to make the image present the professionalism and compassion. I would have also asked the nurse to change her expression.

    She is probably horrified to see the way that she is portrayed on his cover.

  13. I used to be a nurse. Now I’m a PA. I left nursing for a variety of reasons, but primarily because in the 70’s the profession was hell-bent on being taken seriously, and not seen as “handmaidens to the doctor” or cute, sweet little things with no brains of their own. I found the stridency disturbing. This photo is the exact and predictable result of that insistence. I promise you no one will mistake that woman for a handmaiden to anyone, much less a cute, sweet little thing.

    The sad fact is that many, many nurses have just this appearance. That they are thusly portrayed is unfortunate, but is reality. To balance this with “Sexy Nurses Gone Wild”? does as much disservice. The middle ground nurse, the smart, dedicated, woman who does her job superbly well, keeps her home life stable and takes care of herself will not end up on anyone’s cover. She’s too busy.

  14. I used to be a nurse. Now I’m a PA. I left nursing for a variety of reasons, but primarily because in the 70’s the profession was hell-bent on being taken seriously, and not seen as “handmaidens to the doctor” or cute, sweet little things with no brains of their own. I found the stridency disturbing. This photo is the exact and predictable result of that insistence. I promise you no one will mistake that woman for a handmaiden to anyone, much less a cute, sweet little thing.

    The sad fact is that many, many nurses have just this appearance. That they are thusly portrayed is unfortunate, but is reality. To balance this with “Sexy Nurses Gone Wild”? does as much disservice. The middle ground nurse, the smart, dedicated, woman who does her job superbly well, keeps her home life stable and takes care of herself will not end up on anyone’s cover. She’s too busy.

  15. Every picture has a 1000 words. I think your post says it all. However, I must say that after working in nursing for twenty-years there are several nurses, both men and women that contradict the image of good personal health. Too many stupid ice cream socials, too much pizza, too much chocolate and too much sitting down. I know nursing is not a cake walk (no pun intended) but how do patients take us seriously when we are outside the ambulance entrance smoking, and in the back room gorging ourselves on what ever crumbs might be there.

  16. Every picture has a 1000 words. I think your post says it all. However, I must say that after working in nursing for twenty-years there are several nurses, both men and women that contradict the image of good personal health. Too many stupid ice cream socials, too much pizza, too much chocolate and too much sitting down. I know nursing is not a cake walk (no pun intended) but how do patients take us seriously when we are outside the ambulance entrance smoking, and in the back room gorging ourselves on what ever crumbs might be there.

  17. And why do they always show men that work as stewarts on air lines as pretty, friendly and gay? My last flight I had the one and only frumpy, angry gay man I have ever met!

  18. And why do they always show men that work as stewarts on air lines as pretty, friendly and gay? My last flight I had the one and only frumpy, angry gay man I have ever met!

  19. Did you see the most recent ENA journal? the article read…ED charge nurse “Queen for a day”. Is this what i have to look for? queen for a day? for the night maybe with the proper amount of ETOH. maybe im over sensitive. I work with your sister (Hubba Hubba) so the thought of that slab of bacon working with me turns the belly a bit.

  20. Did you see the most recent ENA journal? the article read…ED charge nurse “Queen for a day”. Is this what i have to look for? queen for a day? for the night maybe with the proper amount of ETOH. maybe im over sensitive. I work with your sister (Hubba Hubba) so the thought of that slab of bacon working with me turns the belly a bit.

  21. As a former professional photographer who is now a nurse, I have to tell you there is no amount of positioning, lighting, attractive clothing, ect, that is going to make the nurse on the cover of the magazine look good. Let me be brutally honest here-while the nurse might be a highly qualified professional, she is an obese, dumpy mess. She has made choices that have resulted in her appearance. Face it, no one forced all that food down her throat.

    When I was a photographer, I was able to take a resonably attractive subject and make them look their best by using a variety of professional techniques, but a client had to give me something to work with. Think about it, if a professional photographer could have worked the magic you wanted them to with this woman, she wouldn’t be on the cover of a nursing magazine, she’d be on the cover of Vogue.

    Finally, I have to say that I have never met so many unhealthy people as I have in the field of nursing. So many are fat, sedentary and smoke. I remember the night a graduated from nursing school, a male friend said to me, “Don’t let me ever see you become one of those fat, ugly nurses” Sure, the career is stressful, and it can be a battle to not eat everything in sight, but that’s where self discipline comes in. Sterotypes sometimes exist for a reason–there’s often some truth in them.

  22. As a former professional photographer who is now a nurse, I have to tell you there is no amount of positioning, lighting, attractive clothing, ect, that is going to make the nurse on the cover of the magazine look good. Let me be brutally honest here-while the nurse might be a highly qualified professional, she is an obese, dumpy mess. She has made choices that have resulted in her appearance. Face it, no one forced all that food down her throat.

    When I was a photographer, I was able to take a resonably attractive subject and make them look their best by using a variety of professional techniques, but a client had to give me something to work with. Think about it, if a professional photographer could have worked the magic you wanted them to with this woman, she wouldn’t be on the cover of a nursing magazine, she’d be on the cover of Vogue.

    Finally, I have to say that I have never met so many unhealthy people as I have in the field of nursing. So many are fat, sedentary and smoke. I remember the night a graduated from nursing school, a male friend said to me, “Don’t let me ever see you become one of those fat, ugly nurses” Sure, the career is stressful, and it can be a battle to not eat everything in sight, but that’s where self discipline comes in. Sterotypes sometimes exist for a reason–there’s often some truth in them.

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