You should see a dietitian to help you lose weight,’ says my GP during a consultation last week. I was seeing her about something completely unrelated to my body weight and I hadn’t even raised the subject.
I’ve just had a baby so my weight gain is most likely temporary, and I’m lucky that my body has always fit within the bounds of cultural acceptability. I can’t recall ever experiencing any weight-related prejudice before.
Despite this, being fat shamed by my doctor cut so deeply that I sat in my car and cried for about half an hour and then vowed I’d never return.
And before you say ‘Your doctor was just doing her job promoting good health’, think again.
My doctor didn’t bother to find out about the three exercise classes I do each week, or the fact that I rarely eat processed foods. She has also never asked anything about my history or even my health. She made her unsolicited and day-ruining diagnosis on the basis of looks alone.
My experience isn’t an isolated one. Doctors are reported to be the second most common source of weight-related stigma.One study found that 69 per cent of women surveyed experienced stigma from a doctor once and 52 per cent on multiple occasions.
The fear of being weighed is the most significant factor in women postponing or cancelling medical appointments.
Author of If Not Dieting, Then What? Dr Rick Kausman says that weight policing by doctors does more harm than good to women’s health.