Ivanka Trump needs to take herself out of the equation


Mental illness cannot be immediate reasoning when tragedy strikes

By Brooke Pawling Stennett

While on “The Dr. Oz Show,” Ivanka Trump, senior adviser and daughter of President Donald Trump, told Dr. Oz, “With each of my three children, I had some level of postpartum depression.” 

“It was a very challenging, emotional time for me because I felt like I was not living up to my potential as a parent or as an entrepreneur and executive,” she added.

The interview, which aired Sept. 21, drew both immediate backlash and lavish praise. The skeptics had a right to be wary, and women who had been in her shoes had a right to feel represented. Ivanka’s focus on herself rather than her postpartum depression was disheartening—but hardly surprising given her track record with staying silent when it comes to women’s health issues or their rights in general. In fact, Ivanka said she did not plan to speak out about her experience with PPD until Dr. Oz asked her about it. 

Eleven to 20 percent of women each year experience PPD symptoms after giving birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include feeling sad, hopeless or angry, and thinking about harming themselves or their babies. Some women lack any emotion toward their infants, and are shamed for acknowledging it or going for treatment. 

Because of the stigma, only 15 percent of PPD sufferers actually receive effective treatment, according to Postpartum Progress, an award-winning advocacy blog for PPD. Women who do get treatment—usually anti-depressants and counseling—have found insurance companies unwilling to support them and doctors undertrained, according to an Aug. 1, 2011, NPR article. 

Over the last few years, celebrities such as Adele, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chrissy Teigen have all revealed their battles with PPD with loud, courageous voices to help break the stigma. So, why is it that Ivanka—an influential female figure in today’s politics—remained ambiguous or silent on many women’s health issues for so long? She has the biggest platform in the world and must use it to assist her fellow women. Ivanka has the right to a private life as the rest of us do, but now that she has voiced her struggles, it’s her duty to continue to raise awareness rather than wipe her hands clean. 

As many have noted, Ivanka has not spoken out on other women’s health issues that matter just as much. Ivanka was reportedly behind an offer given to the director of Planned Parenthood, which said that PP could keep its funding if it got rid of abortion services, according to a March 8 Newsweek article. The director declined. Ivanka’s lack of empathy is proof that the most important female voice in the White House is against women too. 

Ivanka went on to tell Dr. Oz, “Look, I consider myself a very hard-charging person. I am ambitious. I’m passionate. I’m driven, but this is something that affects parents all over the country.” 

What does her ambition have to do with the parents who are affected? Do passionate, driven women who have PPD matter more than those who aren’t? It’s commendable that Ivanka spoke out about her experience with PPD, but it seems as if she lacks any awareness of what other women are going through. 

If Ivanka was able to take herself out of the equation and say, “This matters because women are dying and it is a never-ending cycle I have the utmost empathy for,” this interview would have done what it needed to do: Show us that women’s health rights still have a chance of being salvaged. Yet, here we are, and there she truly is.