Something I keep running into with many of my clients and friends is the push, especially from healthcare professionals, to focus on losing weight. Many folks in bigger bodies avoid going to doctors for fear of fat shaming discussions. A client recently told me she was going to a pain management doctor….for pain (makes sense, right?). He said to her that she would die of heart disease or diabetes before she would die of pain if she didn’t lose weight. FACE PALM. Doc, she wants some help managing pain, not your side comments that sound condemning, shaming, and quite irrelevant.
Fat shame and discrimination is all around us.
My personal frustration is with health care professionals, including therapists. A person is coming to them for help and they may be (a) creating an atmosphere where they are afraid to come back by covert (or sometimes overt) fat shaming; (b) perpetuating (or sometimes even suggesting) eating disorder behaviors; and/or (c) focusing on something that isn’t even the presenting concern (like with the above pain management doctor).
The Health at Every Size Movement, which I wrote about before, challenges some beliefs about weight reflecting the state of our health. Additionally, the weight and size discrimination that is prevalent needs to be challenged regardless of beliefs about weight reflecting health. People are deserving of dignity and respect PERIOD. A person’s body size has nothing to do with their value as a human, nor with their abilities to contribute to their community.
I want to direct you to a great resource to learn even more about this: Council on Size and Weight Discrimination. Take some time here and get familiar with the wealth of information. It was here that I was directed to a list of Fat Friendly Health Care Professionals. I would love to see this list developed further. If you are or have a great health care professional that is understanding of fairly different needs of people living in larger bodies or is body positive, follow the guidelines on how to contribute.