Instagram account @themshealth is trying to change the often highly gendered public discourse around health and wellness, by offering a gender-inclusive space to talk about the sorts of things that have, for far too long, been subject to gendered essentialism.
Nina Kossoff, the founder of the account, said her idea to start Them's Health came from "an observation that felt silly at the time, but then felt more serious and exciting thereafter." A friend of theirs was working on projects for two different publications, Men's Health and Women's Health, and Kossoff said that "reading those two names together, [I thought,] That doesn't feel relevant to me." Separating health and wellness into two separate spheres, she felt, wasn't how many people approached the topic, and it effectively excluded people who don't identify with either gender. To Kossoff, it only made sense to create a space where the gender binary is irrelevant, thus the name Them's Health.
Kossoff says they were shocked when they realized just how limited the wellness space was in terms of inclusive coverage, and felt like they could have a big impact in the field. "I was like, Wow, it actually seems like a really big opportunity to get to talk about health and wellness from a broad perspective regarding the types of subjects we cover, but also from a non-gendered perspective," they note. And it is: The platform covers topics surrounding fitness, nutrition, bodily health, mental health, and identity, all without making anyone who doesn't feel connected to gender binaries feel welcome.
Of course, it isn't only people who don't fit into the gender binary who are frustrated with the way health and wellness are covered in the media. Upon creating Them's Health, Kossoff realized that many cis-identified people were flocking to the account, too, indicating the larger problem of the dominance of gendered wellness. "I think that if we reassess how we talk about health and wellness as it pertains to gender, then that actually opens up a lot more opportunity for all people's relations in health and wellness," says Kossoff.
Not only is Them's Health a community for people who have traditionally felt alienated from health and wellness spheres, but it also offers advice from professionals, many of whom identify as non-binary and, as such, are intimately aware of the problems that the health and wellness sphere's binary-focused approach to gender can create. Kossoff calls these experts "Themfessionals," and they encompass nutritionists, family nurse practitioners, therapists, sex health educators, and personal trainers, so far. All of them are volunteers, Kossoff says, they're just "people wanting to provide more information to people and their bodies," and knowing how valuable a resource it is they're providing.
Each Themfessional has an advice column within the Instagram account, which gives followers the opportunity to ask anonymous questions and receive feedback from a seasoned professional. "It's not strict medical advice," Kossoff notes, "but it's helpful directives from professionals."
Them's Health is relatively new—the platform launched in May of this year—but Kossoff has plans for expansion. They already have the website domain of the same name taken, but will need time to build out what the platform would look like as a website; and, they are also looking into the possibility of creating live events with Themfessionals. The future is wide open for Them's Health, just the way they want it.