Thursday, May 29, 2008

I don't know what to title this

I read this website for the first time today: First Do No Harm: Real Stories of Fat Prejudice in Health Care. I have heard stories of fat prejudice before, and have some of my own to tell... like the doctor who wanted to treat my depression after my mother's sudden death with a 1500Kcal/day diet. And I will admit here that I am loathe to go to see the doctor because I don't want to get into a discussion about my weight (yes, I know I am fat). Not a healthy attitude for a cancer survivor to have, given that I may need to continue to see doctors. But there it is.

Anyhow, these stories were heart-breaking. And they make me think... what makes these medical "professionals" think that browbeating their patients will even get them to lose weight? There are stories popping up in the media continually about how fat people get more diseases, are sicker, harder to treat, yadda yadda yadda. Did they ever stop to consider that the fat people in question might not have gotten as sick, if they weren't terrified of being verbally abused? And another thing... it's human nature to rebel... many of us don't like being commanded to do something, and so will do the opposite to prove that the commander doesn't control us. Cutting off our noses to spite our faces? Perhaps... but it's how people are.

My employer banned smoking on campus a few years ago. Did that cause the smokers to stop? A few maybe; the rest go off campus for lunch now when they didn't before. At all of our hospitals you can find employees, often in scrubs or other medical gear, outside smoking just off the premises of the hospital. That's a good image for a medical facility, eh?

But I digress...

There seems to be a perception among many people in our society (not my faithful readers I'm sure) that fat people are less human than other people. It seems to be okay to make fun of them, to discriminate against them, to ridicule them as simply lazy gluttons. We're the enemy in the "war on obesity". Meanwhile, we have lovers, children, relatives and friends who love us as is. Sometimes those people close to us consider us the enemy too, which is extra painful.

Let's just say for the sake of argument that obesity is a character flaw. I don't believe this to be true, but for the moment go along with me. Do people not have other character flaws? Ones that are not so visible but still there? Why is it okay to hold fat people in such contempt for their "flaw" but not other people for theirs? Actually, why judge anyone like that? So you are within the range of weight considered "normal". You don't eat emotionally, you haven't yoyo dieted, good for you? Why am I less of a person because I have?

I know someone who has worked hard on weight loss over the past couple of years. She really restricts her eating and gets a lot of exercise. Oh, and she also smokes. The reason she gave for not quitting in the past few years, even after watching a close family member die of lung cancer? She is afraid of gaining 10-20 pounds. So she has wanted to lose even more weight first. Recently someone else close to her was diagnosed with lung cancer; this has caused her to decide to finally do it before cancer catches up to her. I know that nicotine addiction is extremely hard to fight so I'm proud of her for even trying. Funny thing though... she is one of those people who can't understand other people's perceived weaknesses. If you're fat, you diet. If you drink too much or take drugs, you stop. End of story. She thinks people shouldn't have weight loss surgery because it's the easy way out. I know quite a few people who've had WLS and they will tell you, it's anything but.

Can't we try for a little respect of people who are different from us?

1 comment:

Jacqueline said...

great post. I'm with you 1000%!!! Fat prejudice exists everywhere! I went to Kohl's the other day to look for a swimsuit - I'm at least a size 18 if now not a 20 since I've gained back some of the weight I had lost - and there were NO SWIMSUITS in the Women's section. I complained. It seems as if only people under the size of 16 are allowed to go swimming. I never go shopping. I hate it. And THIS is why.