Going to the doctor is the pits. It usually means you’re sick or hurt or just not feeling like your best self. For some young women, however, going to the doctor can be a humiliating, anxiety-ridden, shameful experience.
Some patients, especially women, are having a harder time in the doctor’s office because their healthcare providers are being judgemental, prejudicial, and discriminatory, fat-shaming the patients and disguising it as medical advice.
Today reports data from a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, that states, “more than half of the 620 primary-care doctors surveyed characterized their obese patients as “awkward,” “unattractive,” “ugly,” and “noncompliant”— the latter meaning that they wouldn’t follow recommendations.
According to the study, more than one-third of the physicians regarded obese individuals as “weak willed,” “sloppy,” and “lazy.”
These preconceived notions about people make going to the doctor’s office a traumatic and embarrassing ordeal, but some women are taking to the internet to push back against the systemic prejudice overweight patients face.
Using the hashtag #FatSideStories, many women are using Twitter to call out the doctors that have dismissed their injuries, doubted their sickness, or prioritized their weight over anything else.
“Some people think that fat people deserve whatever’s coming to us and that means that it’s open season on bullying, shaming, abusing and rejecting fat people.”
Although stories like these may seem shocking, doctors’ attitudes are just mirroring the greater cultural mythology about overweight people.
Today interviewed Dr.Mary Margaret Huizinga, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University:
“Although most doctors say they show consideration for everyone they treat, no matter what, her research has found that physicians’ respect clearly diminishes as a patient’s BMI goes up,” Dr. Huizinga told Today. “Till society changes, the medical profession won’t either.”
These heartbreaking stories are shedding light on the growing problem patients are facing, and perhaps the more we talk about it and open up the conversation, the more doctors and healthcare professionals will realize that all people deserve respectful and dignified treatment.