Commentary #110: Fatphobia in the Medical System, and Thin Privilege

I found this on Facebook on July 29, 2020. It was originally shared by Heatherina Lavender on May 25, 2018.

This was utterly shocking to me. I’m ashamed of how shocking it was.

No wonder Americans have issues with eating disorders!

The resounding comment I got when I shared this on my Facebook page/profile was about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Many of my friends have it, but almost all of them were not properly or appropriately diagnosed for YEARS. And that is completely unacceptable.

I remember learning about PCOS in “Family Life.” I think The Care and Keeping of You, by American Girl, may have covered it? I can’t remember for sure. I also read Girlology multiple times through the library.

Here’s some more information about PCOS:

  • The ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, male sex hormones that women typically have in small amounts.
  • Some women do not have cysts in their ovaries with PCOS, and some women have cysts that do not have a PCOS diagnosis.
  • The most common treatment is medication, but there is currently no cure.
  • Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance.
  • Symptoms: Missed periods, irregular periods, excess body hair, weight gain (especially in the belly region), acne or oily skin, infertility, skin tags, dark or thick patches of skin in certain areas.

I’ve included a list of resources at the end of this post.

I’m not a medical professional, far from it. I’m not here to give medical advice. However – Something I completely agree with in this series of screenshots is this: Unless your child is severely obese, there should be no discussion of weight at their doctor visits, especially not in front of them.

Having worked for two different healthcare systems since 2012, I’ve watched the changes in body mass index (BMI), weight management, diabetes, nutrition, and more. It’s been staggering, and a lot of it has made my head spin. I can’t imagine how it feels for people with chronic pain, autoimmune diseases/disorders, and parents!

Also, the way weight is approached needs to change. A good example is what happened to a family member more than a decade ago, probably 17-18 years ago now. They knew full well they were overweight, and never went to the doctor regularly. Well, this family member ended up with a terrible UTI, and needed antibiotics at a minimum. They went, reluctantly, and the doctor advised bloodwork since they were already there at the office. To no one’s surprise, the bloodwork indicated Type 2 diabetes.

But, here’s the kicker. The doctor didn’t say “I want you to lose weight.”

The doctor said, “I’m giving you a week to improve these numbers. Then we’ll re-evaluate.”

This family member went home, started walking more frequently, and started changing their diet. It’s been a slow process, but the doctor was pleased with their progress in that one week. And the progress continued. Their diabetes is now under control, and has been successfully controlled for the last several years. It’s remarkable what that doctor said. It changed the family member’s life!

I mentioned eating disorders (EDs) earlier. I’ve been educating myself on EDs for quite a while now. I personally have never truly experienced or suffered from (or diagnosed with) anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, or disordered eating, but I know many people who have. It’s mostly women, but I know men who have struggled as well. It’s called a disorder for a reason. Many of my friends, thankfully, have received help.

One blogger who truly opened my eyes has been BeautyBeyondBones. She posts the most amazing and delectable recipes based on her specific eating plan (Specific Carb Diet – SCD – among others), but she has also been incredibly candid about her ongoing journey with ED. She was in treatment, relapsed, and has been recovering ever since.

The other thing I noticed was “thin privilege.” I had to look it up.

In simple terms, it means that I, among others, have never experienced demeaning comments, unsolicited advice, medical discrimination, paying more money for clothes and airline seats, and other shaming instances because I’m “thin.”

Have I gained weight? Of course. I’ve gained about 35 pounds since I met Al in 2010. But, there are reasons why – I graduated from college and wasn’t walking around campus multiple times a day, every day; I started working a job in front of a computer (and that hasn’t changed since 2011, except for getting a sit-stand desk); and I got older. Studies show that a woman’s metabolism begins to slow down at age 25.

If we looked at my BMI, I’m borderline overweight for my height. But, I don’t let that affect me.

Do I struggle with body image? Yes. A lot of it was ingrained in my head from certain family members since childhood, church members, and my ex-boyfriend who was incredibly vain and wanted me to look good for him at all times. I struggled with how to work out properly for years.

Now, in my early 30s, I finally have a healthier mindset. You are not defined by your weight or image. Children are certainly not defined by that. I have vowed to remove this harmful language from my vocabulary!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

21 thoughts on “Commentary #110: Fatphobia in the Medical System, and Thin Privilege

  1. I reckon I sound like a total weirdo when I say this (since nobody likes to talk about this) but it doesn’t hurt my feelings if a woman has chub/fat/curves/etc…

    We’re still in a society that deems fat as lazy. Or if a woman with weight is acceptable at all it becomes a sexual thing.

    I can definitely understand how damaging this issue is. And I wish people would worry more about themselves than “fat girls”.

    • It doesn’t hurt my husband’s feelings that I have curves. Him saying that to me multiple times has helped me become more accepting of myself.

      The societal norms need to change. Fat is not lazy! And the sexualization is another issue.

      I’m convinced that people making these comments are doing it as projections of themselves. My mom is one of the worst offenders. She talked about her own brother horribly. Yes, he was 450-500 pounds. But, he was still a person and a human being.

      • I’ve always been one to understand the inside before the outside. But when I met my wife, I was introduced to the world of what it’s like to be a “fat girl”. And honestly, the looks changed me. I’ve never seen so much hypocrisy in all my life. I know fat guys who do nothing about their health who are the first to make a remark when they see a woman with any weight on them.

        I try to be supportive of my wife. It definitely isn’t easy because once the mentality is set in, it’s there.

      • Bless you for being an understand and caring husband to your wife. I’m the opposite – My husband has always been on the bigger side, and I’ve been skinny/curvy. But he hasn’t received the comments or remarks like women have. If the shoe were on the other foot, it would be completely different.

        It’s difficult, for sure. I worry about Al sometimes health-wise (not going to the doctor, but I understand why – Medical discrimination!), but for the most part, he’s healthy!

      • My wife has always been “big” but she was much smaller when we met. Because she was working out to the point of exhaustion because she was scared I didn’t like her.

        I love her! Weight or not. She didn’t understand that she stayed with me when I was going through issues where women would leave me over the silliest, stupid things.

      • Oh wow. What a journey! I love Al with all my heart. Thankfully he takes care of himself. My uncle, unfortunately, had undiagnosed depression and issues with food. He refused to help himself, and it was so hard to watch. I’m glad that you and I are in healthy relationships. I’ll never forget when Al told me that I was the first woman who had never strung him along, and that was about six months into our relationship. I was blown away.

      • Women can be evil! But that’s another rant lol!!

      • Ha! So true!

  2. Horrifying to think of people having medical concerns chalked up to being overweight without investigation.
    A fantastic movie (and book) about fat acceptance is “Dumplin”… have you seen it?

  3. Caralyn is awesome… that’s how I met you, right?

  4. Oh man, I agree SO MUCH. I’m going to reblog this, but I wanted to leave a comment first – I have chronic pain issues, hypothyroidism (my body doesn’t turn food into energy because my immune system decided my thyroid is evil), and I’ve struggled with my weight for, well, forever.

    I just have to say that BMI is B.S. It was invented over 100 years ago (along with the incorrect assumption that women over 35 will have fertility issues), and it doesn’t take muscle mass into account.

    You know what group is often obese? Professional body builders and athletes. Muscle weighs more than fat. 🙄

  5. Reblogged this on Writing Radiation and commented:
    Don’t buy the hype. BMI doesn’t take muscle mass, which weighs more than fat, into account. Body-builders are often “obese” by BMI standards.

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