Double Dose: Bed Commercial Draws Praise from Home Birth Activists; Meet Disney's New Princess; $10 million if You Can Transform Health Care; Quiverfull Movement Takes Root ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — April 20, 2009

You Know You’re Not in the U.S. Anymore When …: posted an incredible video of a Barcelona couple’s at-home birth — a video made all the more amazing because it’s a commercial for a Spanish mattress company. The tagline: “Your bed, the most important place in the world.” Swoon.

Snow White, She’s Not: Almost three quarters of a century after the debut of Snow White, Disney is about to release a film starring its first black princess, Tiana. Neely Tucker writes in the Washington Post:

Her appearance this holiday season, coming on the heels of Michelle Obama’s emergence as the nation’s first lady, the Obama girls in the White House and the first line of Barbie dolls modeled on black women (“So in Style” debuts this summer), will crown an extraordinary year of visibility for African American women.

But fairy tales and folklore are the stories that cultures tell their children about the world around them, and considering Disney’s pervasive influence with (and marketing to) young girls, Princess Tiana might well become the symbol of a culture-changing standard of feminine beauty.

“If this figure takes off, you’re looking at 30 or 40 years of repetition and resonance,” says Tricia Rose, a Brown University professor who teaches both popular culture and African American studies, citing the enduring popularity of Disney princesses at the company’s theme parks, on Web sites and in videos.

Not only that, but Tiana learns that she needs love and a career to find happiness. Finally, my wish has come true.


Fan Club for Non First Lady Fans: “A first lady whose entire bearing says, “Here I am!” and who by all appearances is living comfortably in her own body is a compelling symbol of female agency,” writes Rhea Hirshman in the New Haven Register. “Even as she is being made into a fashion icon, Michelle Obama is subverting the status quo, thus pulling off the neatest trick of all.”

Plus: More on Michelle Obama from Patricia Williams.

Deadly Silicone: A 43-year-old woman died a day after receiving silicone injections from an unlicensed practitioner. The New York City Health Department is concerned that illegal use of silicone as an alternative to cosmetic surgery is on the rise, reports The New York Times.

Drugmakers Spend Less on Advertising in 2008: “Drug makers cut their spending on consumer advertising of prescription drugs by 8% in 2008 to $4.4 billion, the first pullback since at least the late 1990s,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Pharmaceutical-ad experts blame last year’s spendng decline on fewer new-drug introductions and heightened congressional scrutiny of drug marketing. Critics say the ads, which are permitted in few other countries, inflate health-care costs by prompting patients to request brand-name medicines, rather than cheaper generic alternatives. The industry’s trade group, however, cites a 2003 statement from the Federal Trade Commission that argues that the ads educate consumers about drug options and haven’t been shown to lead to higher prices.

In the U.S., ads aimed at consumers typically account for only about 40% of the total marketing budget for prescription drugs, according to the pharmaceutical industry. The majority of manufacturers’ promotional efforts are directed at doctors.

Spending on drug ads peaked in 2007 at $4.8 billion, according to IMS Health. The market researcher last month reported that annual U.S. prescription sales grew 1.3 percent in 2008, to $291 billion.

Plus: FDA rules designed to clarify pharmaceutical companies’ online ads — such as paid Google ads — and provide more consumer information are causing more confusion than before, say industry officials. How do you list side effects in 95 words or less?

Plus 2: The AP reports that drug makers “spent more than $2.9 million on Vermont’s doctors, hospitals and universities to market their products in the last fiscal year, according to a report issued Wednesday by the state attorney general’s office.” The reports’ findings note that 25 doctors and nurses each got more than $20,000 in cash or benefits from the companies; 10 got more than $50,000; and one psychiatrist received $112,000.

$10 Million if You CanTransform Health Care: The X Prize Foundation is offering $10 million to the winner of a contest that aims to transform healthcare in a small U.S. community:

The Grand Challenge for the Healthcare X PRIZE is to create an optimal health paradigm that empowers and engages individuals and communities in a way that dramatically improves health value. The proposed prize is designed to improve health value by more than 50 percent in a 10,000 person community during a three year trial. In order to effectively compete for this prize, teams will need to fundamentally change health financing, care delivery, and create new incentives that will result in achieving the required improvements in health value for both individuals and communities.

Reuters has more.

“Be Fruitful and Multiply”: NPR’s “Morning Edition” reports on the small but growing Quiverfull movement. These conservative Christians shun birth control and advocate for large families. The agenda is political as well as religious.

“They speak about, ‘If everyone starts having eight children or 12 children, imagine in three generations what we’ll be able to do,'” said Kathryn Joyce, author of the new book “Quiverfull: Inside The Christian Patriarchy Movement. “”We’ll be able to take over both halls of Congress, we’ll be able to reclaim sinful cities like San Francisco for the faithful, and we’ll be able to wage very effective massive boycotts against companies that are going against God’s will.'”

Eight-Year-Old Denied Divorce: From Akimbo: “Earlier this week, a judge in Saudi Arabia refused for the second time to annul the marriage between an eight year-old girl and a 47 year-old man. The girl’s father promised her hand in marriage to a friend as payment for financial debts. The girl’s mother brought the case in an attempt to free her daughter from the forced marriage. While this disturbing case has made headlines, it is not uncommon.”

Read the full post for steps advocates and governments should take to eliminate early and forced marriage.

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