This is the final week of my quoting from Roxane Gay’s newest book, Hunger. This week the focus is on doctors. Anyone who is fat has a story about a doctor who didn’t see them beyond their fatness. Last year even before I stopped dieting, I stopped seeing the very toxic doctor whom my parents had been seeing for years. She was the type of doctor who passed judgment non-stop (and not just about weight). Every time she saw my parents she told them to lose weight.
When I went to my new doctor, someone who seemed body positive from reviews that I heard, I asked not to be weighed. I told her about my disordered eating and how I was working on my relationship with food. She asked if we could talk about health, and I said not yet. She was kind.
Too often, doctors are not kind. Too often doctors see someone fat and they make a slew of assumptions. Whether those assumptions be that the person is disgusting because of their shape or what they must be eating. Whether those assumptions be that the person is unhealthy. Whether those assumptions be that the person wants to lose weight. Whether those assumptions be that the person was sexually assaulted. All of these assumptions are bad. If you are a doctor, I plead with you, stop making assumptions. When a patient comes in, don’t prescribe weight loss without hearing the symptoms. Really, don’t prescribe weight loss at all. Try, TRY to hear the symptoms without the weight bias coming in. Educate yourself. Read Health at Every Size or Body Respect or other books on the matter.
And for everyone’s sake, please don’t approve children’s dieting.
“I blamed my body for being broken. My doctor did not dissuade me from this, which was its own kind of hell–to have your worst fears about yourself affirmed by a medical professional who is credentialed to make such judgments.”
“I go to the doctor as rarely as possible because when I go, whether for an ingrown toenail or a cold, doctors can only see and diagnose my body.”
“Doctors are supposed to first do no harm, but when it comes to bodies, most doctors seem fundamentally incapable of heeding their oath.”