Florence Williams is a Mom on a Mission®!
March 4, 2013
Florence Williams is Healthy Child Healthy World’s February finalist for our 2013 Mom on a Mission® Award.
Read her first-person story below on how she became an advocate for children’s health.
By Florence Williams, February Mom on a Mission®
My name is Florence Williams and I am a journalist, author and mother. My mission is to turn up the volume on the environmental health conversation. I use my voice and my personal experiences to connect the dots in an effort to inform others about these issues.
I started writing a lot about environmental health after I tested my breast milk for flame retardants and pesticides after my daughter was born. I wanted to tell the story of the fine boundaries between the human body and the industrial landscape, and I thought using my own body and speaking mother to mother would be an effective way to do. That story was published in the New York Times Magazine. This became the basis for my 2012 book, BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History, which was reviewed in The New York Times. In the book, I look at how modern life has changed breasts and breast health, from the increasing widespread incidence of early puberty to breast milk toxins to the epidemic of breast cancer. BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History was also named a 2012 New York Times Notable Book.
I continued to use my own body as a proxy for the larger story, and I also recruited my daughter to undergo some non-invasive body burden testing. She thought it was great fun to pee in a cup and send it off in the mail. We looked for common household chemicals that are known to influence hormones in animal studies, such as BPA, phthalates, triclosan and parabens, and then we tried to see if changing our habits or diets could make a difference. While writing the book, I became fascinated in the ways that early life exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors influence adult disease.
I also became a strong supporter of the need for stronger government testing and oversight of potentially hazardous additives and industrial chemicals, because as I learned, it’s not easy to be your own personal toxicologist.
Mothers have enough to worry about, to think about and to do to enjoy this great life journey of parenting. It’s manufacturers and the government who should protect public health.
I believe mothers can be a great force for change, but we need information and we need to bring our voices together. That’s why I’m a journalist and it’s why I have hope for a better, safer world for children, families and the institutions that sustain us all.
Know an amazing mom who is making a difference? Nominate her to be one of our Mom on a Mission® finalists! Learn more about Healthy Child Healthy World’s 2013 Mom on a Mission® campaign by visiting Healthychild.org/mission. A special thank you to our sponsors Ology and Unreal.