Extraordinary women? I feel fortunate in that I’ve met many in my life. Others I may read about in print, or on the web.
I happened across a fascinating piece in Boston University’s alumni magazine, Bostonia, profiling a remarkable woman named Barbara Corkey.
Dr. Corkey is a biochemist, something of a maverick, and at 73 is continuing to take an outside-of-the-box approach to fighting the obesity epidemic in this country, and its growing legacy of diabetes. And apparently, Dr. Corkey is unafraid to buck conventional wisdom when it comes to her theories as well as her life.
She’s setting aside the usual assumptions about obesity (the widely held belief that it results from simply “eating too much and exercising too little”), as she works to explore food additives as a significant factor in fat as a health issue.
“I don’t believe that overeating causes obesity,” says Corkey flatly…
Dr. Corkey goes on to explain her position, associating the changes in food preparation and packaging she has seen in her lifetime with the marked increase in obesity and diabetes.
Making Our Own Way
Dr. Corkey is anything but a lightweight in her field. She has been involved in metabolism research for five decades, and is vice chair of research at Boston University’s School of Medicine department of medicine.
Beyond that, there’s a long list of recognitions for her work, which you can read more about in the Bostonia article. And in that article, Dr. Corkey is depicted as a woman who makes her own way and stays true to who she is.
At BU, she is known as a generous collaborator and a beloved but tough mentor…
Corkey is a modest woman who avoids the limelight and disdains what she calls the “billy goats” who often dominate science.
And may I add that she was a single mother very young, and nonetheless worked around her obstacles?
As to Dr. Corkey seeking to disassemble what she refers to as “the last remaining bigotry in the world, which is against obesity,” I say hear, hear. I’ve experienced that particular prejudice – it is well entrenched, and affects millions.
Inspiring Women, International Women’s Day
These days I find myself searching for inspiration. Women have always provided that for me – women who won’t take no for an answer, women who stand up for what they believe in, women who fight the good fight in the trenches, women who do not lose their capacity for loving – women in the arts, in politics, in science, in education.
Women whose daily lives are, in and of themselves, an example – quietly, noisily, resolutely making a difference.
Incidentally, when I Google “inspiring women” I note that today is International Women’s Day, but I can’t help but dream of a time when we have no need for special designations because we’re all equally valued, regardless of demographics.
I also come across 50 women who changed the world, which offers an interesting list that includes Sapho (570 BC), Queen Victoria (1819-1901), Marie Curie (1867-1934), Katherine Hepburn (1907-2003), Billie Holiday (1915-1959) and many other women. I recognized some, and others were new to me.
Ten years from now, whose name and contributions will appear?
The War On Fat, The War On Women
It’s no secret that I’m increasingly dismayed in my daily reading, as political factions continue to wage war on women – certainly as concerns our sexual health and reproductive systems. I am compelled to mention these issues. How can any thinking man or woman not?
If only we could turn those energies to warring on disease – diseases like Alzheimer’s, which disproportionately impacts women; diseases like diabetes, which according to the CDC affects 25.8 million children and adults in the U.S. alone.
I wonder if we might war on fat and not as a vanity issue, but because we all know the dangers and massive human and economic costs.
I wonder if we might remember that we are more than how our bodies appear; both men and women suffer from a growing obsession over youth, looks, and looking youthful. As for women, how many of us waste years of our lives in fretting over our form, and to the detriment of our relationships?
Fighting For Ourselves And Each Other
May we stop waging war against ourselves?
Let’s battle what matters: eradicating disease, poverty, prejudice; serving as examples of supportive human values as we raise our children and form communities. Let’s work to create food systems to keep us all healthy.
Yes, you can chalk up these fervent wishes to the idealism of a 20-year old in a 50-something body. And I hope that idealism never wanes, so I may fight for what I believe in, and contribute in a positive way. I look to Barbara Corkey, and I know that it’s possible.
- Have you encountered women in your work life who make their own way and break stereotypes in their field?
- Any women in your personal life who have done the same? Family, friends, teachers?
- Who inspires you to reach for your potential?
My thanks to Boston University for providing the image of Dr. Corkey by Vernon Doucette, courtesy Bostonia Magazine, Bostonia.com.
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