639 posts tagged doctors
Thin Privilege is being able to describe the symptoms of a potentially very serious acute illness to a doctor friend, receiving advice to go to the emergency room to get checked out, and then not refusing to go because you’re very fat and concerned that the emergency room doctors will not treat you as a human being and give you suboptimal treatment for your illness.
Thin privilege is when the doctor does not assume you are diabetic or have high-blood pressure every time you’re sick.
That isn’t thin privilege… Fatter people are more prone to having these sorts of health problems, so therefore the doctor would need to rule these things out as possible reasons for illness.
This comment is thin privilege.
The problem isn’t that doctors look at an overweight patient and see those conditions as a possibility, the problem is that they act as though those are the only possibilities. They also often see them as the most likely or only possibilities even if the symptoms don’t add up.
I went to a doctor three weeks ago, knowing the problem was my thyroid. She said it probably wasn’t and hinted that I probably have diabetes. She ran a full battery of tests. Guess what was the only thing out of whack? My thyroid. My blood sugar wasn’t even in the “pre-diabetic” range.
That is the third doctor I’ve had this experience with THIS SUMMER. One doctor just knew it could not be my thyroid and hinted that the problems would go away if I lost weight (the one who gave me too much thyroid med and put me in the hospital with afib because of it — couldn’t have me gaining weight, you know). One thought I was depressed (she decided this after looking at me and asking me one question about my sleep habits) and tried to put me on anti-depressants within 5 minutes of meeting me.
I had to pay extra for all those tests. Doctors on my insurance would not listen to me, didn’t actually address the problem — and I’m out the money for the copays. To fix the problem, I actually had to go pay out of my pocket for a doctor who is off my insurance. I’m lucky since I have good insurance and can pay this stuff, though it does drain my finances. Someone without the resources would have just been out of luck!
The entire time I was running around trying to get help, I was barely functioning. I hardly had enough energy to do my job — let alone have a life outside of it.
The assumption that we must have diseases associated with fat cost us time, money, and a great deal of frustration and heart-ache. Don’t tell me this habit is helpful or even harmless!
One of the things I was taught in medical school was, if you listen to a patient long enough, they will tell you what their problem is. Experience has shown me that it’s true.
So, why don’t doctors listen when their patient is fat? Are they afraid they’re going to be proven wrong?
Never trust a doctor who is afraid to be wrong. Nobody is perfect.
Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder
I decided to submit my story, the story of a thin person, because I think it shows that fat doesn’t equal unhealthy a thin doesn’t equal healthy. The fact that doctors think this way harms both, fat and thin people, though the first group obviously suffers way more from it as all the stories published here prove. I’m aware that this isn’t a space for thin people so it’s not a problem for me if you don’t publish this. If you decide to do so feel free to adjust the language because I’m not a native speaker and haven’t written such a long text in English since school. Also, I’ve used the word “fat” because you use it on your blog but I’m not sure if it is ok for me as a thin person to do so. If you think it isn’t, please change it to “people of size” or whatever term you prefer.)
I’ve always been thin weighting between 100 – 129 lbs while being 5.4 ft tall. The reason my weight shifted around 29 lbs was a severe eating disorder. In my teens I would loose 20 lbs through starving and that gain all the weight back through binge eating and bulimia. Luckily, as I’ve reached my twenties I’ve overcome this harmful behavior. So currently I weight in at 118 lbs and appear as a “healthy”, thin woman by the standards of society. However during the last two years I noticed that I get tired very easily. Also, I sometimes get very thirsty for no apparent reason and I lost 6 lbs. The weightloss really scared me because I never ever have lost weight without intention. What worried me most was that I sometimes had a very blurry view in the afternoon and I started to panic that I would loose my eyes sight.
I went to several doctors with those symptoms. Most of them told me that my eyes were fine and that I don’t need glasses. The tiredness and thirst was always explained by a lack of iron and vitamin b12 which would be typical for women of my size. The weightloss wasn’t of interest for any of them and that I sometimes felt depressed and was suffering from fatigue was disposed as “the typical state of women with PMS”. Let me point out that calling fatigue a natural state of women is highly problematic but that’s another issue…
After 2 years of being told that I was fine and maybe should eat a little more, after swallowing hundreds of iron pills that caused my stomach to ache and getting lots of vitamin b 12 injections, I finally found a doctor who told me what was wrong with me:
I suffer from diabetes, type 2.
All those months could have been used to tackle the symptoms. Instead they got worse as I was constantly eating sugary foods and was even advised by the doctors to do so. Obviously, as a skinny person I couldn’t have had diabetes because diabetes is a disease that only affects fat people…
(for anyone wondering: the diabetes probably was caused by my binge eating disorder/bulemia which didn’t cause me to gain weight but still fucked up my blood sugar levels)
I’m submitting this here because I’ve seen this both on personal blogs on my dash and through you guys today and you have a wider readership than I do.
Fun Fact of the Day: Unless you are either stalking them, or they are reporting back to you every second of the day, you have no idea what any person other than yourself is doing with their time or how they get through the day. Therefore, you have no business making assumptions about how they eat, how they exercise, or why they don’t exercise.
Bonus Fun Fact: Unless you have an actual PhD to your name, you have no business complaining about non-doctors giving out solicited medical advice while, in the same breath, giving out unsolicited medical advice.
The thing about bodily autonomy is that no one gets a say in what any one else can or cannot, is or isn’t doing with their own body.
The thing about personal responsibility is that it’s personal and that sole persongets to decide what they want and can be responsible for in their own life and with their own body.
And unless you’re going to start complaining about your tax money going towards the fire department when you’ve never needed their services and don’t participate in behaviors that would make you more likely to need their services, then let’s just skip over the “BUT MY TAX DOLLARS” argument.
I have always been on the thinner side and unfortunately never really paid attention to thin privilege. That was until I became pregnant with my first child. I was blessed to have a healthy and happy pregnancy. Over the course of the nine months I put on about 50+ pounds, a bit more than what was recommended but my OBGYN never said anything negative about my weight gain. So everything was great until I went to the hospital to deliver my baby. The first time I saw my delivery room nurse, she literally looked me up and down, smirked and said I needed to step on the scale. On that day I weighed 198lbs. She commented multiple times on how heavy that was and asked if I had always been heavy or if I just ate too much during my pregnancy. I sheepishly responded that I gained more weight than I intended too. She scoffed and said it was going to very difficult for me to get back to a “normal” body weight. I was too overwhelmed by being in labor that I didn’t say anything to her. But I was extremely self conscious for the rest of my delivery. The day after my delivery, I was weighed and due to having an IV overnight, I only lost one pound. The nurse (a different nurse!) who weighed me told me that after she gave birth to her son she immediately lost 20 pounds and wore her pre-pregnancy jeans home. It made me like a big fat failure. And I kept up with this self hate for the first few months after my daughter was born. I wasn’t one of those women who lost her baby weight in 6 weeks so I really struggled with my body image and would find my self starving myself and then trying to work out. I would cover the mirror in the bathroom before I showered because I was so ashamed of my body. It got to the point where I was beginning to resent my baby because my pregnancy gave me this body. My family also added to this cycle of self hate. Every time I saw them and had lost a few pounds they praise me for starting to look like myself again and ask me what my secret was. (Uhm I was pregnant and now I’m not…). They were trying to be supportive but I felt that I wasn’t myself until I reached a certain number on a scale. And it was even worse if I went a few weeks without losing any weight. I would get comments like “you know everyday that goes by its just going to get harder and harder..” or “well I lost x amount of weight in that time frame, are you sure you are cutting enough calories?” And the absolute worst was when they would mention a certain celebrity that maintained their weight throughout their pregnancy and how 6 weeks after giving birth they now had a six pack. Thankfully, I had a very supportive husband who never once criticized my weight and helped me develop a healthier approach to body. I was fortunate enough to break this cycle of self hate and through a much healthier approach I lost some (not all!) of my pregnancy weight. I am no longer obsessed with losing weight and I now prefer my softer post pregnancy body.
This whole ordeal really opened my eyes on how fat shaming runs rampant in our society and unfortunately how common and how accepted it is in the medical community. My ordeal only lasted for about year so I can’t imagine how hard it must be to spend your whole life having these negative attacks thrown on you. I am also thankful that blogs like this exist because they are huge eye openers for people that have never faced body shaming. I wish that I would have paid more attention to thin privilege and fat shaming prior to this event. But now I know the hard truth and will continue to educate myself on these issues and will do everything in my power to preach body acceptance and be a positive role model for my young daughter.
Thin privilege is not having to spend your childhood visiting countless doctors and specialists because your parents are trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with you.
In childhood, my asthma was so bad my parents were advised to make funeral arraignments ahead of time to save themselves stress when I passed away. Although things improved a bit in adolescence, I remained a severe case. Worse though, my insurance would not cover a pulmonologist.
My family doctor would see me frequently when I was sick. Each time, I heard the same things. The first was that it was impossible to increase my dosages of asthma control medications, as this would ruin my already damaged liver and kidneys. The second was that my asthma would magically go away if I were just to lose some weight. This was always said snarky and mean, and I left every time feeling lower than dirt, sure that my condition was my own fault.
I was beyond sedentary. Any activity was taxing, made breathing difficult. I avoided the outdoors with its allergen triggers, and frequently begged off of events with friends as I couldn’t keep up. I suffered from depression because of this. I knew I emotionally ate, but it was both a cure for depression and it gave me a reason to be sitting. (after all, having to take a break shopping is weak, but its nice to pause for a nice slice of cheesecake!)
Then insurance changed, and I found myself in the office of a pulmonologist, who was staring in horror at the results of my peak flow. She decided to start me on drastically higher dosages of medication. When I parroted the concern for kidneys and liver she laughed and said she wanted me to live long enough to have those issues.
It took a few trials to find medications and dosages that worked, but six months later I felt better than I had all my life. People commented on my improved color, attitude, and said how much happier and more lively I was. It was at the doctor when they told me I had lost weight. I hadn’t noticed that and wasn’t trying, and it was completely a result of my lifestyle changing when I had normal respiration. But what was most important was that I am now able to live a normal, healthy lifestyle.
But people are completely willing to miscredit my new found health TO the weight loss, as though losing weight somehow fixed my asthma. It in no way did. Trust me, my medication was lost with luggage a month ago, and I found myself in the hospital within a week being intubated. My asthma hasn’t improved, I just have a treatment that works.
As far as I’m concerned, my healthy lung self just happens to weigh less than my asthmatic lung self. Compared to my happiness and longer life, that’s a small, small issue.
Here’s my message to anyone whose doctor is telling them to lose weight as though it will magically fix them: Don’t treat the symptom, treat the disease. And if you can’t get your doctor to listen, find a new one. The issues your doctor is brushing aside as being symptomatic of your weight could be the very issue that takes your life.
Thin privilege is going to the doctor and NOT getting tested for diabetes when you have literally none of the symptoms.
I recently visited my doctor’s because I suspect that I have a thyroid issue: I’m always cold, always tired, can’t concentrate on anything, and I’m experiencing a lot of hair loss. I’m a US size 18, and despite trying to eat healthier (I’m a vegan and I know I need to change some dietary things to make sure I’m getting the right nutrients) and starting a work out routine so I can better learn archery/martial arts, I didn’t lose any weight. So in order to get tested, I have to go in and ask for the blood test.
I told my doctor specifically what I was there for, and yet she seemed more concerned about my cholesterol levels than anything else and started asking me pointed questions about symptoms that I recognized as diabetes symptoms. I said I wasn’t experiencing any of those and because I’m vegan I’m not worried at all about getting too much cholesterol, but she still put an order in for them to test my cholesterol levels (though she told me I didn’t have to come back another day and fast beforehand). It was like she was determined to prove that I must have high cholesterol/am in danger of getting diabetes because I’m fat.
I get back my cholesterol results as well as the other blood test results in the mail? And it’s the only one she made a comment on: “Great job! Keep it up!” because, as I knew it would be, my cholesterol levels were in the normal range despite not even fasting first before having the test done.
(Oh, and the thyroid was on the low end, so now I’m seeing a naturopath who actually listens to me for my other symptoms.)
A friend of mine recently asked me for advice on finding a new doctor. He easily weighs 450 lbs and needed to see a new doctor when his old one retired.
The day he went to his new one, my friend overheard the doctor ask his nurse, “what’s wrong with the walking heart attack?” before he entered the examination room.
Last night my boyfriend and I went to a gay night. As usual, given our small glbtqia community, I was the only trans guy there, and one of the only afab ppl there who wasn’t cis het. (I am actually intersex, and was given massive amounts of estrogen at puberty and had surgery after my birth, so I guess I’m cafab). Anyway. This guy started flirting with my bf, then grinding against my ass. My bf said “hey, he’s my bf, stop it” seeing how uncomfortable I was. The guy said to my bf, “pretty boy, what are you smoking? That’s a fat bitch ass, you’re in for a nasty fish sandwich if you bring this fat midget home!” My boyfriend insisted I was a guy but at that point I lost it and just ran outside. I wish I could say I realized that I’m still a hot trans guy deserving of respect no matter how short I am and how wide my hips and ass are. Instead I spent the night crying out of hatred for that guy and jealousy of all the trans guys who have sexy boy stomach fat instead of what I have, or who don’t have to deal with this at all! Then, my bf had to lie to me and tell me my hips and ass aren’t fat. I’m trans and dysphoric about where my fat is, not stupid. And he can’t understand how I feel, because his (stomach) fat doesn’t make people misgender him and, in the case of cis het men, say triggering things to him (the day before, some creep yelled to my bf “I’d wanna bang that big ass you got walking besides you”). Finally, my mom admitted to me tonight that she is scared that I will never be accepted as a man with my body and that is why she refused to accept me as trans for so long: “men just aren’t shaped like you, you have a beautiful curvy petite woman’s body”. This made me hate my body and myself even more. Tl;dr: thin privilege is being able to express your gender identity without scorn based on the placement of your fat…(intersects with height privilege since I am not even five feet tall which makes it even harder to maintain a weight that this shit society finds “acceptable” for cafabs who aren’t read as men and can’t find a doctor to prescribe t due to “health reasons”, i.e. liability and the refusal to let me make decisions about my own body, at this point dysphoria will kill me long before “obesity” or “liver problems”. Sorry so long I’m just so sad and so tired after almost forty years of being conscious of this shit and feeling like I have no way out. Thank you so much for this blog and the way you include fat trans people’s experiences too.
Thin privilege is being able to fit into those paper gowns at a doctor’s office. My doctor herself is incredible, a wonderful person who has never questioned my weight (other than an initial “You’re over the weight the chart says is healthy, but it’s not affecting your health at all. If you have any questions about weight just ask”). However, when going to her recently for a physical and pap smear, I couldn’t cover myself with the paper gown I was given. It left my back and butt exposed, and the plastic tie that was supposed to keep it closed couldn’t even reach around me. I’m so glad I’m comfortable with my doctor because I can’t imagine having half of myself exposed in a medical situation if I wasn’t. Physicals are stressful enough.
To start, I’ve been reading your blog on and off for a while. I wanted to say that it disgusts me how many stories I’ve read that talk about doctors focusing on weight as the major problem for most/all medical problems. As someone who plans to go into Physical Therapy, I wish I wasn’t almost done so I could change my major to become a GP. So then, I’d have a chance to be able to help diagnosis medical problems. I hope that eventually our medical system can be overhauled so that we actually focus on fixing problems, rather than trying to just promote unnecessary weight loss with little explanation or advice.
TW: eating disorders, weight loss, medical bias
I am thin. I never really realized what sort of privileges my weight gave me until I came across this blog. Thank you for opening my eyes.
I have struggled with EDs for nearly a decade now, mostly bulimia. I can go to the grocery store and buy 6000 calories worth of junk food and no one bats an eye. They SHOULD, because I am going to stuff myself and make myself sick, which is WRONG. But since I’m thin, I must be healthy, right? (sigh). I was recovered from my EDs until a few months ago, when I developed an unknown illness that causes chronic (unintentional) vomiting, forcing me on what is literally a starvation diet (saltines, bland soup, gatorade…yeah, that’s pretty much it), which triggered the bulimia relapse. Because if you starve yourself long enough, you’ll end up binging, especially with my history. Anyway, I lost 16 pounds in a month, vomiting every day at least once.
I expected concern, which I did get. But what I wasn’t expecting was the compliments. Even the backhanded “eat something” comments, I could tell were thinly veiled jealousy. And when I called my prospective boss to tell him I could not accept the job offer (too sick to work…or stand for more than a minute), when I explained my symptoms he commented that it was “quite the diet.”
I’ve been reading this blog for the past two days and I can’t help but shudder at the stories, particularly the ones involving doctors. My husband is pre-med and just turned in his application. I plan on sharing these stories with him in the hope that there will be one more doctor who treats patients as people. (He plans on becoming an osteopathic doctor. I’m not sure if anyone has had experience with these but they take a more holistic approach to health and I believe have a few more courses in nutrition. Maybe this might help? They have a D.O after their name but take the same tests as an M.D. to get their license.) I can’t help but be horrified at the idea of my eating disorder not being taken seriously or my illness and subsequent weight loss being encouraged if my BMI was higher.
I hope I’m not out of place submitting (though I know by default I kind of am). I just hope you know that, despite the flood of hate you all must get, you are slowly but surely helping people by spreading awareness. I plan on sending this blog to a wonderful former professor of mine in my teacher education program. She teaches Gender and Education, but the class covers sexuality, class, and many other issues that affect students. I hope she might carve out a spot in the class to discuss thin privilege and fat discrimination.
Thin privilege is having your mental disorders taken seriously and never brushed off by people telling you to “lose weight and you won’t be x anymore”.
Thin privilege is being able to make submissions using your username and not getting death threats.
For a while I’ve been having knee problems, so naturally I went to the doctors to see if there was anything wrong. Well after a couple of fat shaming questions such as, “How long have you been obese?” and “Have you experienced any other health problems linked to your obesity?” He finally got to his “diagnosis” without performing any other tests and he told me that my knee pains are due to the pressure put on my knees by my excessive weight.
First of all, it’s clear this doctor has never heard of health at every size. But I calmly explain to him that at my job, I’m on my feet 4 hours a day and also explain to him the concept of me being comfortable with my body and also explain to him health at every size. Then this fucker has the audacity to laugh and say, “Health at every size isn’t true, and if you keep believing it you will eventually get fatter and suffer a heart attack at a young age.” At this point I had had enough and politely told him to “Fuck off.” I immediately walked out of the office and cried in my car for half an hour.
Thin privilege is having doctors take the proper steps in diagnosing your knee pains.