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Doctors have flooded social media with pictures of themselves in bathing suits after the Journal of Vascular Surgery published an article many found offensive and sexist. It warned young surgeons about posting "unprofessional" photos showing "inappropriate attire" on social media.
The backlash to the male-led study was swift and fierce.
"It's 2020, it's not 1920," said Dr. Victoria Dooley. "To tell women what they should and should not do on social media in this day and age, to me, it is cringeworthy—that's unprofessional."
In order to find examples for the study, a group of mostly male researchers examined the social media accounts of graduating vascular surgery trainees from 2016 to 2018. Public profiles were screened for "potentially unprofessional content," including "provocative posing in bikinis/swimwear," the study said.
"To the 28-year-old 'researcher' who says this is unprofessional...I'm old enough to be your grandmother," said one older doctor in a caption alongside a bathing suit photo.
"You should post whatever makes you happy, because we are humans too," Dooley said. "We're not robots."
The journal has since retracted the article, according to a statement from the editors on Twitter.
"Many who have read the article expressed great concerns about the method of data collection, lack of diversity of the authors collecting the data, as well as potential bias in the evaluation and conclusion," the statement said.
"Although the editors of JVS believe that the authors of this paper were attempting to advise young vascular surgeons about the risks of social media, the review process failed to identify the errors in the design of the study."
The statement also noted that the researchers did not receive approval to use a database of vascular surgeons in training for their evaluation.
The editors apologised to "every person who has communicated the sadness, anger, and disappointment caused by this article."