Yes! Let’s talk about this! Fat shaming happens. A lot. By the medical profession. It doesn’t help. It creates an immediate disconnect between patient and provider.
A couple of years ago, I ruptured my ACL while biking. I tore up everything inside my knee. I was referred to a specialty doc for the reconstruction. During my first appt, he looked at me and asked, “What do you do to keep active?”
I said, “I bike and I’ve been working on a couch to 5K program.” I was so proud of that couch to 5k thing. I was, at the time, more active than I had been in years and feeling pretty good about it, the whole ACL rupture notwithstanding.
Dr Banana Fingers waved his hand dismissively in front of my torso and said, “Come on. You’re not a runner. You’re a softball player.”
My jaw dropped. No. I’m not a softball player. I’m not a great runner but it involved moving my sneakers in front of each other in rapid succession–what most folks would refer to as running. Also, to note, when I injured my knee, I was not playing softball. I was riding a bicycle, which I like to do. A lot. For long distances.
I’ve joked about this in other blogs but it is a serious and ongoing issue. I look like everyone else in my family. We are short, sturdy, often stocky, and middle age is not kind to us. No one in my entire family could ever qualify as thin, except for perhaps the mother, in her last stages of cancer when her body was wasting. I do not require shaming to remind me that I look like my family.  What I expect of my doctors is to be treated respectfully and to work with me to live in the healthiest, and most comfortable manner that I can, in this body I came into this time around. This body bikes. And gardens. And likes yoga. And likes walking the dogs. And it STILL looks like everyone else in my family. Name calling doesn’t cut it, Doc.
But I digress. On a follow up appointment, post-repair, the nurse who brought me to the assigned room gave me the wrong shorts to put on for the exam. Dr Banana Fingers arrived, looked at me still wearing my jeans, then opened the door and yelled–and I do mean he YELLED–down the hallway, “HEY, CAN YOU BRING BIGGER SHORTS?? SHE NEEDS BIGGER SHORTS!”
I had two follow ups left after that appointment. I never went back. I will drive 45 minutes to the ortho clinic in the next town over before I will step a pudgy foot back in that clinic.
We don’t talk openly about this topic–either the need for the empathy based discussion or the disconnect.  When my primary doc asked about how things were going with the specialist, we were in the middle of addressing something else, I knew her time was limited and I wasn’t going to waste my appointment time talking about the poor experience with Dr Banana Fingers.  I think if she had more than the requisite 15 minutes…which is, truthfully, always more like 7 or 8 minutes….we might have some conversations about other important issues.
It is, of course, not just the medical profession going on the attack over this topic. About three weeks ago, a strange man in a Starbucks parking lot shouted at me that I was too fat to fuck. Again, the complete denigration of some stranger’s body is the go-to verbal abuse. Yup, yup, I got it. Your entire view of me is this single aspect.
Fat is a big queer issue. I’m going to save that tangent for its own blog.
In the meantime, I’m sorry your view is so limited. That’s like going to the theater for a night out and sitting behind the pillar that holds up the balcony. There are significant pieces of that show (and of people) that you won’t get to see.  I am a pudgy carbon based wonder and I’m sorry that all you can see is the pillar. Have you considered moving to a different seat?
  1. susan francis says:

    I read your blog and ran the gamut of emotions. You always make me laugh and you can easily bring a compassionate tear to my eye. However, I am so angry with all of the historical and present day body slamming I need to go bat the hell out of my pillow. We need to love, love, love….
    Author Jerry Jampolsky states that there are two primary emotions: LOVE AND FEAR, I will leave it at that.

  2. Janet says:

    Having grown up with a mother and other extended family members who shamed people, myself included, I find myself constantly judging myself and sadly speaking up about my weight issues before anyone has a chance to comment. If I were told I was “too fat to fuck,” I’d probably reluctantly nod in agreement. I struggle with body acceptance. I wish the anti-fat shaming movement was active when I young and not overweight, but still went on an egg & grapefruit diet with my mother. Or when I could barely breathe in my skin tight Levi’s, constantly sucking my stomach in. I am still shocked when I see teens today with bellies overflowing their pants tops under tight t-shirts, yet they are obliviously content with themselves. My mother’s words ring in my ears, “did you see the size of her belly!” “someone needs to go on a diet.” Our favorite ex-youth minister and his wife sent a card one Christmas, detailing his achievements and their family’s activities, along with a photo of the happy family. Mom’s comment, “Carl has gotten big, fat, and gobby.” (No mention of the positives in his life.) At my son’s college graduation, our family, including his dad, my ex, toured his engineering project lab. I caught my mother taking a photo of my backside. When I asked what she was doing, her comment was, “I don’t think you know how big you’ve gotten.” … I hate to say this, but the negativity engrained in me feels so normal that I don’t think twice about negative comments on my weight. I joke about it. (Yep, you’d better ask for the biggest pair of shorts they’ve got!) I’ve numbed myself. I won’t say a word to anyone about their body (weight), but I’m sad to say that I notice and often in a negative way. Fat shaming and shamers be damned. It can screw up a kid for life.

  3. Thank you, Janet. It sounds as if we’ve had some similar experiences on this front. Thank you for being willing to call it out, call it what it is, and acknowledge the challenges of trying to change that ingrained thinking. It DOES become second nature, doesn’t it?
    Last year, I went to see the movie Embrace, about women and body ideals. I don’t know what I expected, but the experience I got was not it. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I got proud….the movie’s message really resonated for me. I could see other women nodding all over the room. It is vicious what we do to each other and I have yet to come up with a reason for why. Perhaps you’ll enjoy the movie. I found the link for you.
    Thank you again for popping in and taking the time to write. If you watch the movie and want to chat, let me know!

  4. Exactly! Oh-I forgot that I’m Batman! You’re right! LOL Thank you, DB!

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