I have seen at least 10 doctors and specialists during my 47 years. Of those, only 2 did not jump to conclusions about my weight and treat me like a second-class citizen. But of all the fat-shaming experiences I have ever had, none was so detrimental as my childhood hospitalization.
My pediatrician (we’ll call him Dr. Smith) was obsessed with my size. My ear infections, heart murmur, and asthma were all just side notes to my weight. He was a portly man himself who smoked a pipe during my visits. Between puffs, he exclaimed how many pounds I had gained since my last visit, accusing my mom of making me fat. Charges of sugary snacks, soda, and potato chips spewed from his tobacco stained lips. No matter how many times Mom explained that I didn’t eat junk food (because we couldn’t afford it), he didn’t believe her.
By the time I was 10 years old, Mom had placed me on numerous diets. Each one resulted in a small weight loss followed by more weight gain. And eventually, Dr. Smith decided my mom’s efforts weren’t cutting it. And so I was hospitalized for 5 weeks on a 700 calorie diet. Food was served to me three times a day, and I usually didn’t eat the breakfast because I was a very picky eater.
After four days, I had not lost any weight, so a very large nutritionist came to talk to me and my parents. My mom gave her details about my daily food consumption, and soon the woman was smirking and accusing me of buying junk food and stealing candy. I remember thinking how unfair it all was.
On day 8 of my hospital stay, Dr. Smith came to see me. I overheard him telling the nurse that it was impossible for me not to have lost weight on the diet. He told her somebody must be sneaking in junk food. The nurse went to bat for me. She told him that nobody had brought me anything during my stay. She said that she had been in all of my drawers and closet and had never seen any food items.
As I sat in my room alone, I mulled over the lesson my fat-shaming pediatrician taught me.
As long as I was fat, I would never be trusted.
Later that day, my parents came to visit and found me sad and depressed. I told them what happened and that I wanted to go home. They checked me out and took me home the same day, and my mom never took me back to Dr. Smith again.
I wish I could say that this was my last experience with fat-shaming doctors, but if you have ever been to a doctor as an overweight person, you know I would be lying. There are major barriers and obstacles that fat people face in the medical community. I hope that by sharing this story, I can help you speak up for yourself. You are not a second class citizen, and you deserve a doctor who will listen to you with care and concern. <— Click to Tweet
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