A couple of days ago I told you about a young special needs student who had been physically and verbally abused by her teacher and her teacher’s aide for being fat.
Yesterday I saw a report that a couple were charged with neglect for starving their daughter in an effort to keep her from becoming obese. The girl had gained only three pounds in her first 14 months of life. Christopher Sultze, the girl’s father, told one of the physicians treating the girl for failure to thrive that he “doesn’t want to have obese children”. Dr. Mary Bartel told reporters that both of the girl’s parents kept insisting that she was going to “get fat” from her treatment for malnourishment.
According to a report on the peer-reviewed journal “Pediatrics” hospitalizations for eating disorders among children under 12 years old are up 119% in the last decade
My friend’s boyfriend went to the doctor for severe, sudden onset backpain. Without so much as touching him, the doctor told him that the pain was due to his weight. He explained to the doctor that the pain was new but the weight was not, but the doctor was unmoved. A second doctor, after poking him a couple of times agreed with a diagnosis of fat and a treatment protocol of weight loss. A third doctor, through the handy use of simple diagnostic tools that were readily available to the first two doctors, discovered disc damage requiring medical intervention. He suffered in pain for three weeks and, had he not sought a third opinion (and been able to afford three doctor’s visits), he would still be trying to lose weight with herniated discs which could have caused chronic back or leg pain and loss of control or sensation in his legs and/or feet.
I got an e-mail from a mother distraught that one of her daughters has organized her entire family to spend the holidays confronting a fat sibling about her weight. The family is coordinating and planning to bully this girl at what is supposed to be family feast centered around thankfulness.
A young man went into the doctor for constant pain consistent with gallstones, and a family history of gallstones, then got an ultrasound confirming gallstones. His doctor did not follow up with him after the tests and when he finally called she insisted that the gallstones weren’t the problem and he just needed to lose weight. He got a new doctor who performed emergency surgery and told the man that he could have died if he had waited much longer.
My friend Deb eats almost exclusively processed food and never exercises (she is fond of saying “if we were meant to walk, God wouldn’t have invented cars”). Deb weighs about 100 pounds. She went to a doctor who tested her and found that she had high blood glucose, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and other metabolic risk factors. Without asking her any questions he gestured to her body and said “You’re obviously doing everything possible for your health, don’t feel bad – sometimes these things are genetic- let’s get you on some medication.”
Earlier today I saw Kelly Bliss use the term “Casualties in the War on Obesity”, and she’s exactly right. You can’t separate us from our fat. A war on a obesity is a war on obese people, and a war on people has injuries and deaths and collateral damage and that’s exactly what’s happening. And the casualties are all sizes and all ages – including 14 month old infants. Are we really to believe that a starved 14 month old is necessary collateral damage in an effort to get fat people to buy into a weight-centered health approach?
We must end this war. The casualties are completely unnecessary and we could stop them tomorrow by being for healthy options instead of against fat bodies. Doctors would need to get themselves together, leave their size bias at home, and provide a proper standard of care based on health and not weight for their patients (which would include, you know, using a diagnostic tool besides staring at us fully clothed and guessing). Fat bashers would need to find a new sport. Everyone would need to be for access to health without being against people’s bodies.
But the first step, the very first step, is that fat people need to decide that they deserve respectful treatment and then demand it. Even if they want to change their bodies, even if they want to lose weight, they can still claim their right to be treated with respect in the bodies they have now. Respect is not contingent on body size and the more fat people who demand respectful treatment in every area of their lives, the more allies who will come forward to support us, and one by one we will deplete the armies in the war on obesity and without armies there can be no casualties.
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