Est 5 min read
Today, we're talking about how the medical system is likely gaslighting you or someone you love, if you or someone you love has a fat/larger body. By larger, I mean a size that is considered bigger but can even be someone who is an average body size. But for the purpose of categorization for this blog post, in terms of the people who are likely to get treated poorly in the medical field due to weight stigma, the categories of BMI called overweight or higher; overweight, obese and beyond. Remember, we know that the BMI is bogus, and it's harmful. But when you go to the doctor, they're still going to put you in the BMI categories, either by being weighed that day, or if you refuse, which you're allowed to do, the weight that was already in the system, or simply by looking at you…even though they can't measure your BMI by looking at you. But they'll still put you into that category mentally.
This categorization leads to weight stigma and Anti-fat bias in healthcare. The BMI is the standard measure of health because of systems of oppression and the BMI categories were created by pharmaceutical companies who were trying to sell weight loss drugs.
These are the systems of oppression that contribute to this stigma. It's a problem because you're not likely getting the kind of medical care that you actually need or deserve.
If you are in an overweight or higher BMI category, and you go in and complain that your ankles or feet are sore, they're going to likely say it's because of your weight. If you go in and you have sleep apnea, they'll likely say it's because of your weight, they may recommend weight loss, which will only cause shame and contribute to preoccupation with your weight and dieting. Restriction only makes you more preoccupied or makes you feel more shame about your relationship with food and your body. It does not lead to being healthier. It's been debunked in the research.
This is a real problem!
People in smaller bodies are getting real treatment and that's what you really deserve, right? You need to do your best to insulate against this. See if you can find a Health at Every Size provider or a provider who's trained and knowledgeable in intuitive eating. If you can't or if you don't have access to that either because of your insurance or where you live, then the goal is really to insulate yourself as best you can.
We know that many people who are in larger bodies aren't going to the doctor because they know that they're going to get lectured. Unfortunately, the implications of that are that it harms your health and it doesn't change the system. Learn to really advocate for yourself and insulate against it. You can create a document that you send to the doctor saying you do not want to talk about your diet, weight, or size. State that you do not want any of that and that is harmful to your mental health. Period. When you go into the doctor, you can refuse to be weighed, if they start asking you about food, exercise, diet, weight, then, again, redirecting the conversation back to just wanting treatment for xyz and really advocating for yourself. You can ask “what is the treatment that you would give to someone in a normal BMI category?” Then state that:
Here are some great cards that say “Please don't weigh me” you can use if it feels supportive.
Know that it is really hard to live in a culture where when you go to the doctor or someone who's supposed to be helping you, you're told that it's because there's something wrong with you, which most often is not true. I do recommend following thefatdoctorUK on Instagram, they are so great at debunking that even if there's a correlation, there's no causation for all of these health issues. People at every size, get every health condition, there isn't a single health condition that only happens to people in a larger BMI category.
It's can be helpful to:
If this is not happening to you, it's happening to people that you love, so do your best to support them and advocate for them. Don't comment on their body, don't comment on their food, and instead, be an ally, their support system, and somebody that they know will love and accept them no matter what and however they look. If it's you that needs support, be it for yourself and ask those that you love to be it for you as well.
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