Physical and mental health can be one of the many things that are hard to talk about. And it’s understandable. Terminal illnesses, struggle, death—such things can make any women feel a wave of panic and anxiety. But women’s health is also one of the most important things that we should talk about. This is because it will engage many other women to talk about their own health and ways to improve it. And this is crucial because women need to look after their own health. It should be integrated into their day-to-day lives.
Now that we’re still going through a global health crisis with COVID-19, we hope to see more women taking charge of their health. Seeing them protected from the coronavirus by self-priming filter respirators will encourage more women to do the same and protect themselves. Fortunately, many movies openly talk about and explore many aspects of women’s health.
Terms of Endearment
When people think of tearjerker movies, many of them often think of Terms of Endearment. Premiered in 1983, this Academy Award-winning movie has been cemented as one of the best dramatic films that significantly explore relationships with mothers, life, and death. Aurora (played by Shirley MacLaine), a widower, has many chances of finding love again. Instead, though, she chooses to focus all of her affection and attention on her only daughter, Emma (played by Debra Winger).
But their relationship is clearly complicated. Emma feels that her mother is too overbearing even though she’s a grown woman with her own family. On the other hand, Aurora feels that her daughter is distancing herself too much. But when Emma gets diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, their relationship changes. Moreover, it explores how terminal illnesses hit mothers harder because they’d have to think about their children apart from their own survival.
Mental health issues are also a subject that is a bit harder to talk about for many people. But Girl, Interrupted explores this, no holds barred. The film is set in a mental institution for women, and the set of colorful characters are all going through different struggles with their mental health. Susanna (played by Winona Ryder) is at the center of the story when she gets diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. Her fellow patients are diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, anorexia, etc.
This film opens our eyes to women’s mental health. Through the women in the film, we gain a deeper understanding of women’s struggles. They accept that they have a problem, open themselves up to other people, and receive treatment.
The only documentary movie in this list, Reversing Roe tackles a very relevant aspect of women’s health in the United States: their reproductive health. Coupled with the debate about the rights to get an abortion, this film dives deep into the effects of the Roe v. Wade case in 1973. This legal case is a breakthrough in the pro-choice movement, as the Supreme Court began enforcing the rule that state restrictions of abortion would be deemed unconstitutional.
Reversing Roe explores how Roe v. Wade caused decades of debates about women’s reproductive health. It shows stories of real women who struggled with getting safe procedures to terminate pregnancies and the health repercussions of those that were unsafe. But the scope of the movie expands by looking at the abortion issue at a national scale, seeing how legislators in Washington D.C. approached women’s health. This movie shows well the politics of women’s health.
Alcoholism and drug addiction may not be terminal illnesses like cancer. But they are still health struggles that affect more women than we think. Even if they are professionals who have achieved high-level careers, they might still be struggling with alcoholism and/or drug addiction. So it’s important to acknowledge this as a health struggle to engage more women and encourage them to get treatment.
This is what 28 Days does. Gwen (played by Sandra Bullock) struggles with her addiction to alcohol and drugs. After a bender that landed her in court with drunk-driving and property destruction charges, she’s offered a choice by the judge: spend 28 days in a rehabilitation facility or go to jail. The whole film explores Gwen’s struggles with addiction and openness to get treatment. Yes, she may have chosen to go to rehab. But the path to acceptance is still a long and winding road for her.
Women’s health is something that we should always talk about. Topics such as breast cancer, mental health, reproductive health, and addiction may seem taboo topics. But talking about them will help more women feel inspired to get treated and voice out their own struggles, too. The good thing is that these movies have helped.