The Size of a Grapefruit

Eva Woolridge

"The Size of a Grapefruit" is a visual narrative based on Eva’s traumatic medical event which highlights the emotional stages from before, during and after her surgery. Her objective is to address the lack of information and medical attentiveness available for Black women regarding their reproductive health. Eva’s story addresses symptoms of ovarian cysts and the micro aggressions Black women face during times of crisis with the goal of as well as helping other Black women from undergoing the same pain as her.

Each image is titled based on my emotional response during this two-month healing period:  Denial, Blinding Pain, a Thorn of Micro-aggression, Shock, Surrender, The Weight of Trauma, Inspection, Reflection, Acceptance and Empowerment, in that order.

Eva's hope is to share more stories of women who are affected by the negligence of the medical field, and visually celebrate how they overcame and empowered by their experiences.

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"At 7:10 AM on Sept. 17, 2018, I experienced a sharp pain in my lower right abdomen followed by a wave of nausea. I fell alongside the toilet and began dry heaving while sweating profusely. My first thought was how I must have caught a stomach bug, but I soon dismissed this theory when I nearly passed out trying to stand. From the ground I called my roommate to take me to City MD.

Once at City MD, a white, female medical professional glanced at me with little attention, and she told me it was probably food poisoning. As I teared up from pain, she jokingly asked me where I ate sushi the night before so she could avoid the restaurant. Once I began vomiting stomach acid, she re-diagnosed me and suggested it was probably appendicitis. We left for the hospital where the driver showed me more compassion than the doctor.

I was in the hospital waiting room for 30 minutes before given attention. It wasn’t until I forced myself into the nurse’s office that I was taken to the ER. I was diagnosed with an 8cm dermoid cyst--it was the size of a grapefruit. If I was cared for earlier that day, they could have saved my right ovary, however by this time the cyst cut the blood flow and they needed to remove it. On my way to surgery, the nurse told me it was her 6th cyst removal that week.

I spent the next two months feeling isolated, confused and depressed. I was not given information on how one ovary would affect my hormones, whether I could have kids, or how it even developed. I was left to process and research on my own. As an advocate for reproductive health, I had personally become aware of preventative measures for cysts, and the racial bias & micro aggression in medicine industry."

About Eva Woolridge

Eva Woolridge (she/her) is an African-American/Chinese-American photographer residing in Brooklyn, New York.  Her photo series’ explore the sexual, spiritual, and emotional nature of femininity. In her work she transcends surface-level labels of people of color by conveying strength, perseverance, vulnerability and vitality using strong lighting and composition.

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Her first photo essay was entitled Peeled Paint, produced in 2014, and it conveyed her understanding of the human ego and spirituality.

Upon graduating from University of Maryland, College Park, Woolridge completed her second social-consciousness narrative called Embrace Your Essence. Produced in 2015, the series focused on young women’ journeys toward self-love—defining what they find beautiful about themselves. Many of the narratives included illnesses, challenges to meet Western standards of beauty, and quirks that once negatively affected their self-esteem.

Woolridge continues to use visual narratives to convey a tone of a new, inclusive wave of feminine energy through her gaze as a queer, woman of color, while commenting on the social & cultural conditions of her communities.

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View some of Eva's work from "The Size of a Grapefruit"