Recently I was down with the flu and had a throat infection. It was nothing major but I still decided to see a doctor and as I walked into the clinic, the doctor took a minute, virtually judged me on the basis of my physical appearance.
Before he said anything, he asked me how much I weighed and what were my dietary habits. For a minute I was confused and thought that there was a misunderstanding because I was just there for a consultation on common cold. I wondered if I had walked into the wrong cabin.
I went with the flow, told him my weight. He didn’t even ask me what my symptoms were nor did he do a physical examination and just said, “Lose weight, you’ll feel better.”
Suddenly, it dawned upon me that I was officially body/fat-shamed by my doctor. Judging me on the basis of my physical appearance, forming a biased opinion and assuming my symptoms is the literal definition of medical fat-shaming according to Cosmopolitan. The doctor neglected my symptoms because of the way I looked.
I don’t know about you all but being a curvaceous woman residing in a society that’s obsessed with skinny figures, is tough and I’ve often been a crusader of body positivity. But what do you do when professional doctors fat and body shame you and don’t take your issues seriously because of how you look?
Even if it’s something as common as a headache or toothache, for some doctors it automatically becomes a “weight issue”.
I still remember going to my gynac because I had irregular periods, she told me to lose weight. It took a year to get in shape and I still had irregular periods. It was only after that, that my gynac did a thorough check-up and diagnosed me with PCOD.
And because my symptoms were blamed on my “weight issues”, my PCOD had already gotten worse because of the delay in diagnosis.
So why is it that most of the doctors make you feel uncomfortable, like whatever pain or suffering you’re going through is because of your weight and you somehow deserve it for being “unhealthy”?
Why is it that my sickness or I am not taken seriously by the doctor? Why is it that all of a sudden I’m a less of a human being to them? How is it that their standard reply without even giving a proper medical diagnosis is to tell patients to lose weight?
Professional doctors have a medical degree to configure what is wrong with me and treat me for it but all they’ll do is not take my symptoms seriously and blame my weight for everything.
And don’t get me wrong, I completely understand if the doctor tells me to lose weight as a means of prescription, what I’m against here is when they don’t even examine you and blame your weight for a minor throat infection.
All I’m saying is that these weight biases can lead to neglect and misdiagnosis, while bringing a sense of shame to the patients. The patient and the doctor, they both lose from a medical episode of fat-shaming.
Doctors and medical professionals need to stop judging people on the basis of their appearance because every time they do that, they’re neglecting their patient’s symptoms and putting them on a risk of having a misdiagnosis. I think it’s high time that we realise that weight and health aren’t synonymous.