Fat hate ain’t just American

Via Fatshionista, a highly-recommended article on America’s Fat Hatred.  Here’s the bit, also quoted at Fatshionista, which leaped out at me:

In a study published in the 2005 issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law,Abigail Saguy and Brian Riley found that many overweight people decide not to get help for medical conditions that are more treatable and more risky than obesity because they don’t want to deal with their doctor’s harassment about their weight. (For instance, a study from the University of North Carolina found that obese women are less likely to receive cervical exams than their thinner counterparts, in part because they worry about being embarrassed or belittled by the doctor because of their weight.)

And of course, when those women drop dead of preventable cancer, it all gets ascribed to “ZOMG obesity epidemic fatties are UNHEALTHY why didn’t they put down the baby-flavoured donuts” and the cycle keeps going, dumbasses.

The reason this jumped out at me is that it’s only been in the last year (i.e. two six-monthly appointments) that I’ve started to just not like going to the doctor.

It was great when I was at uni.  The doctors were generally so head-over-heels with getting to deal with a patient who didn’t smoke, used two forms of contraception and knew exactly when her last smear had been that the dreaded BMI calculation often didn’t even make an appearance.

These last two?  Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, different story.

First there was the doctor who decided to ask about any family history of diabetes after looking at my BMI and delivering the Once Your Pancreas Gives Up You Are Fucked And Will Lose Limbs, Probably Sight, speech.  This was happily tempered with actually listening to my explanation of my diet and general activity level (protip to Wellingtonians: generally the phrase “walk up the hill to uni every day” quells concerns from physicians and insurers alike).

Then there was the latest doctor.  The one who looked at my BMI, you know, that random, unscientific, meaningless number, and decided to make all her assumptions based on that – to the point of having the gall to look seriously shocked when my blood pressure – you know, that measurable, somewhat-meaningful* number – comes back just fine … and then proceeds to ignore my description of my diet and activity levels and negative family history of blood clots and basically threatens me with removal of my Pill-privileges if I don’t slim down sharpish.

Still, I had it lucky.  At least she didn’t take my blood pressure three more times and refuse to accept the results, and at least I (so far) haven’t been put on blood pressure or cholesterol medication I don’t need – and which then get added to the next headline-grabbing COST OF OBESITY pathetic-excuses-for-articles.

And even if you’re sitting there thinking “But COME ON, QoT, we all knooooooooooooow that fat is unheeeeeeeeeeeeealthy, and why should Hardworking Taxpayers** Foot The Bill For Their*** Laziness”, I would like you to at least consider this idea – it doesn’t even require critically analysing your ingrained, media-driven-hysterical prejudices, I promise:

If fat people are nervous about going to see doctors, if fat people are avoiding preventive primary healthcare, if fat people are ignoring actual symptoms of illness because we can’t be fucked dealing with the bullshit or being actively disbelieved about our own bodies … well, The Taxpayer**** is going to end up paying anyway – and not even for Fattie Diseases!  For “normal” diseases!  Which would cost a shit-tonne less if treated up front or even averted through basic primary care!

What I’m saying, Virtuous Thin People Who Clearly Make All The Right Decisions,***** is that it’s in your own interests for me to not be belittled and treated like crap by an alleged medical “professional” relying on 19th-century woo and blind prejudice over actual facts, among all the other bullshit we fatties deal with.

(And lefties, just another point:  DPF is a dogwhistling douchebag whose blog is a sewer.  WhaleOil is scum with delusions of political influence.  Mike Hutcheson, like the rest of Sunrise’s “commentators”, is frequently full of shit.  We really don’t need the apparently-obligatory “LOL UR FAT” comments every time they do something idiotic, they give us plenty of material to work with regardless.)

*I have acquaintances who have nearly had serious cardiac issues misdiagnosed because medical personnel assumed “you have normal blood pressure” and not “you naturally have low blood pressure so a “normal” reading is really really bad”, so no gospel-like faith here, just in comparison to the weight I give BMI?  If I didn’t laugh I’d cry.
**And the number of bona-fide lefties I have seen use this argument non-ironically?  Kinda tragic.
***Because of course you don’t mean me, you mean Those Other Fatties.
****Who is of course thin.
*****Getting born with thin-dominant genetics was a masterful move, I must admit.

7 comments

  1. Joanna

    My favourite was when I had to see a new doctor to have my meds dosage upped, and despite having gone over my entire history of depression and talking about how I go to a counsellor etc, he had the charm to say “do you think you’re depressed because you have low self esteem because you’re fat?”.

    Oh is that what it is? Not a chemical imbalance in my head? It’s just my low self esteem which I obviously have because I’m fat and therefore worthless! Woah! Breakthrough! I’m cured!

  2. Boganette

    I went to see my doctor recently after not seeing her for about six months. She’s been my doctor for seven years. When I came in she said ‘Oh you’re looking bigger than usual jump on the scales’.

    And I said ‘I don’t weigh myself’. She said ‘you have to weigh yourself how will you know if you’ve gained weight’.

    Um Lol.

    She then told me my BMI said I was overweight. Which makes no sense at all to me since I’m not overweight. She then said ‘lose weight before your next (DP) injection’.

    I was like ‘why?’ and she said ‘your BMI – you’re overweight’. And I said ‘I’m not overweight and I’m not going on a diet’.

    She then threatened me saying I won’t get my DP injection if I don’t lose weight (I have no idea how much weight I’m supposed to lose or how I’m supposed to lose it since I eat healthy foods).

    Now I would think getting pregnant would make me gain even more weight but hey, I’m not a doctor.

    • QoT

      I always have to wonder, Boganette, given that there’s more than enough ZOMG OBESITY DURING PREGNANCY WILL BE THE DOWNFALL OF CIVILISATION pseudoarticles going around, why our doctors are so quick to suggest that we not be permitted contraception …

  3. Spilt Milk

    Great post.
    I just read an account of a woman going to the doctor about unexplained episodes of pain and sensitivity in her limbs. His response – she’d gained weight, so now when she bumps into a table leg it hurts more because there’s more force behind it! (She actually hadn’t gained more than a couple of kilos which brought her to a grand total of, wait for it, 67 kilos. But you know that’s actually beside the point.)

    I almost can’t believe her story because how could someone with a medical degree be so effing stupid? How?!

  4. THINKIES

    I too decided to do the right thing and have an annual check up with a local GP. My doctor (a very skinny middle aged man) ended the consolation by stating:

    “I have no idea why you are so healthy considering you are over weight” (and I am a little having had two kids and hit mid thirties – but not obese) ” we better make another appointment for a couple of months and see how your results look then”

    - I eat well, excersise, don’t abuse my body with excessive alcohol or drugs – yet I am bound to get sick soon because I don’t fit into a size 8 any more?

  5. Katie

    My BMI puts me in the overweight category.. Damn!

    I read so much so much offensive crap toward overweight people. It disgusts me. Can I use the word, weightist, hahaha, you get me. It’s not right it’s so sad it’s disgusting how people can discriminate

    x