The Journal of Vascular Surgery recently published a study entitled, "Prevalence of unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons." The goal of the study was ostensibly to prove that "publicly available social media content may affect patient choice of physician, hospital, and medical facility." The study claims that unprofessional social media content may also "affect professional reputation among peers and employers."
The problem with the study is that it was conducted by three men who considered bikinis — widely available women's swimwear — "inappropriate attire," and categorized bikini pics as unprofessional along with drug / drug paraphernalia content, controversial political and religious content, and controversial social topics.
Bikinis are, of course, just bathing suits. People wearing bikinis shouldn't be sexualized or deemed "inappropriate" at all. On top of that, what someone chooses to wear in their personal life shouldn't affect how they're treated or seen in the professional realm. Doctors are human beings, too.
Female health care professionals across the world started sharing pictures of themselves in bikinis to support the idea that women who wear them are smart, capable, and should be treated as such. They're using the hashtag #MedBikini on Twitter and Instagram to flood your feed with responses to this sexist study.
Dr. Candice Myhre shared these graphic photos to explain how she literally saved someone's life while wearing a bikini. "Dr. Bikini will save your life in the middle of the ocean when you get hit by a boat," she writes. She was able to stabilize this man in an hour, have him flown to a hospital, order and interpret numerous tests, suture his wounds, splint his bone fractures, and more. All while wearing a bikini.
"NEWSFLASH," she writes, "FEMALE DOCTORS CAN WEAR WHATEVER THEY WANT. Female doctors, nurses, NPs/PAs, all healthcare professionals — we can wear a bikini, a dress, or we can wear scrubs. This does not change how good we are at being a healthcare provider. We can wear WHATEVER we want on our free time, and still save your life."
She explains, "In this ridiculous article published in a well respected medical journal, the vascular surgery authors sought out to determine how many vascular surgeons had participated in what they state is 'inappropriate social media behavior,' which they defined as FEMALES IN BIKINIS — BUT GET THIS: NOT MEN IN BATHING SUITS."
Londyn Robinson, a med student and the creator of the #MedBikini hashtag, wrote that she has heard stories already of schools and residency programs chastising their female students and employees for posting bikini pictures, clearly missing the entire point of the effort.
She also acknowledges that the issue of misogyny in the medical field is many-pronged and that female BIPOC health care professionals face many more accusations of "unprofessionalism" for innocuous things like their hairstyles. "We have a lot of work to do here in so many ways to combat the patriarchal ideals that comprise medical 'professionalism,'" she wrote on Twitter. "It goes far beyond a hashtag, my friends, clearly."
The authors of the study have apologized and the paper has been retracted. In a statement on Twitter, the editors of the Journal of Vascular Surgery wrote, "Although the editors of JVS believe that the authors of this paper were attempting to advise young vascular surgeons about the risks of social media, the review process failed to identify the errors in the design of the study with regards to conscious and unconscious bias..."
It concludes, "We offer an apology to every person who has communicated the sadness, anger and disappointment caused by this article. We have received an outpouring of constructive commentary on this matter, and we intend to take each point seriously and take resolute steps to improve our review process and increase diversity of our editorial boards." The letter is signed by the editors of JVS, both male doctors named Peter.