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Listen Up! Infertility Happens to Women of Color
Tomiko Fraser Hines shares her story to inspire and put an African American face to the disease and erase the shame and guilt associated with infertility.
Tomiko Fraser Hines, is an extraordinary model who was the first African American face of Maybelline, and has been featured in many top campaigns such as The Gap, J. Crew, Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger, Talbots, and Old Navy (just to name a few!) She is also an infertility advocate, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association ambassador and someone who empowers others to be unstoppable in their journey to parenthood.
Nine years ago, Fraser Hines was diagnosed with infertility due to premature ovarian failure, an autoimmune disorder. She and her husband began an emotionally draining infertility journey and spent thousands of dollars, pulling from their retirement savings, on a number of different infertility treatments. After six years of trying to conceive, Fraser Hines and her husband powerfully chose, a term the couple used to describe their choice to use an egg donor to fulfill the dream of parenthood, where she gave birth to twin boys.
Infertility was an extremely difficult battle that she and her husband faced but she also noticed something was missing, the voice of the African American community. Largely, that women of color were not talking about it both publicly and online, including celebrities. After becoming pregnant through an anonymous egg donor, a close friend of Fraser Hines had suggested that she might consider sharing her story to inspire and encourage others, as well as put an African American face to the disease and erase the shame and guilt associated with infertility.
“It’s my belief that there is still a taboo of shame and guilt surrounding infertility in the African American community. There is a stigma that we shouldn’t air our dirty laundry, and we have to be strong. Conversations around infertility are tentative or may not happen at all. But all communities can relate to the same feelings and struggles with this disease.“
In the beginning of their infertility struggle, she and her husband felt very alone and couldn’t seem to get any answers about the disease, something that is often lamented by many who are impacted by an infertility diagnosis. It was that nudge from a friend that would then lead to an overwhelming feeling that she would help surge change in lifting the stigmas surrounding infertility both for women of color and all that are touched by this disease. Fraser Hines had a life changing sense of responsibility to her community to step out and become a beacon of light for others, and that she did.
They went to social media and posted their story on Facebook with the titled post “Unstoppable”. It was the couple’s mantra, in short because nothing would stop them from becoming parents. After that post went live, Fraser Hines received an overwhelming positive response. She went on to write an article for Mommy Noire, an African American women’s blog about all things mommyhood. Fraser Hines was also interviewed by Essence magazine and Katie Couric.
Fraser Hines continues to partner alongside RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association to share her story and help raise infertility awareness for the African American community and all women of color. It is the ever inspiring, “unstoppable” efforts of infertility warriors like Tomiko, who are making a difference in the infertility community.
Photo Credit: D’Andre Michael