Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Inspired by Ragen's post today, I wrote up what will become my video contribution to the Resolved Video Project on weight and medical mistreatment.

Before and after the Graffiti Run 5K, Feb. 2013

Last spring I scheduled an appointment with a new gynecologist, my first since getting my own insurance. The appointment was for a yearly checkup, the Well Women exam, which entails a pap smear and breast exam. My new doctor walked into the exam room, and first thing told me to lose 5 pounds, having barely said hello and obviously not even looked at my intake paperwork. She didn’t ask about my eating and exercise habits but bowled forward straight into the exam. I was gobsmacked. I had run three miles two hours prior and had perfect blood pressure. She didn’t know I had lost 5 pounds already* in the preceding months because she never asked. She didn’t know I regularly run 5K and 10K races and have even finished a half marathon. That’s 13.1 miles, TYVM.

I nodded dumbly, feeling deeply hurt and offended. I had NEVER been told before by a doctor to lose weight or that my weight was a problem. Because it isn’t and never will be. Feeling justifiably obstinate and at least a little bit triggered, I then bought myself a big-ass gourmet cupcake and large caramel cappuccino for second breakfast and never saw that doctor again.

I wish that were the end of it, but now I feel worry and anxiety every single time I see a doctor, which is not infrequently. It’s every three months when I see my gyno for birth control. It’s more often than that when I live an active lifestyle and injure myself a few times a year and visit my GP. I’ve begun declining to be weighed, which the medical assistants respond to with confusion and uncertainty. I tell them, “My weight is steady and has nothing to do with my visit today.” They stutter, regain themselves, and hurry me into the exam room. Are they going to tell the doctor? Is he going to bring it up? Will he disapprove?

I have SO MUCH middle class, university-educated, conventionally attractive, thin, white, cisgender, able-bodied privilege. And because of ill-informed medical practitioners who misuse a body/height ratio that was debunked DECADES ago as being a poor indicator of health, I am afraid every time I go to a doctor. My education and my skepticism, my own research and my knowledge don’t count for much in the face of a doctor’s authority and the weight (no pun intended) that his or her opinions and recommendations carry.

My story can't compare to the thousands of people prescribed weight loss for every ailment from step throat to a stubbed toe. Weight loss based medicine is bad for everyone, and it must stop.  I believe in evidence-based medicine. Prescribing weight loss is ignorant, irresponsible, lazy, and unethical. I resolve to speak up for bias-free healthcare!

*Because I like to run more when the weather is nice.

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