Tristy Taylor is a super cool woman who I met through fat activism. I think I was first introduced to her via her video Fat Strong Lady, about being an Olympic-style lifter, we connected through Facebook and through various events. A little over six months ago her husband passed away, unexpectedly, in front of her. She has been dealing with her grief in a way that I think is incredibly brave, vulnerable, and honest – both asking for the help that she needs and sharing her journey in case it helps others. She is currently doing a “6 Months of Grief Project” and today’s post – about an overdue trip to the doctor – caused me to shake with rage and, when I posted it to Facebook, to say FUCK seven times, in all caps:
[From me:] FUCK THIS!! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK FATPHOBIA! FUCK HEALTHCARE PRACTITIONERS WHO THINK FATPHOBIA IS THE SAME AS HEALTHCARE. FUCK. IT.
[From Tristy]”So I ask her. “Are you aware that I am suddenly widowed?” She quickly checks her chart. “Oh yes, I see,” she says. “Well, at least this is one good outcome!” she cheerily responds. Again, I stand there, dumbfounded. I can’t even process what she is saying to me. Is she saying that a good thing coming out of my husband dying suddenly before my eyes is that I stopped feeding myself and lost 20 lbs? IS THAT WHAT SHE IS SAYING TO ME?”
You can read the full piece here. The comments that came after on my Facebook post demonstrated what I already know – that this happens far, far too often. Many healthcare practitioners seem to think that weight loss is not only a good thing (despite the lack of evidence that most people will be able to maintain it, or that it will make them healthier in any case,) but then they take it ever further insisting that weight loss by any means is a good thing. This is not just ridiculous, it can be deadly. Fat people have died because of this type of malpractice – doctors have congratulated fat patients on their weight loss and suggested ways that they could lose even more, ignoring their patients concerns about an actual medical symptom (unexplained changes in body weight,) to celebrate their body becoming closer to the cultural ideal of beauty.
Healthcare practitioners have missed (and in some cases exacerbated) gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, malnutrition and dehydration due to grief, depression and other circumstances, big ass cancerous tumors, eating disorders, and more because of their blatant, dangerous, deadly weight bias.
Healthcare practitioners owe us more than that. They owe us more than a diagnosis of “fat” and a prescription of “weight loss.” They owe us more than celebrating symptoms of deadly illnesses that they would be immediately concerned about if we were thin people. They owe us more than treatment based on bias, stereotypes, and misinformation spread by the diet and weight loss industries. Healthcare practitioners owe us better than “everybody knows.” They owe us more than a “choice” of pills that can kill us or the amputation of our perfectly functioning stomachs. They have an ethical obligation to provide us with evidence-based medicine and informed consent, and far too many healthcare practitioners are failing, and far too many other healthcare practitioners are too busy getting defensive rather than demanding better education for, and better behavior from, their colleagues.
Fat bias hurts, fat bias kills, and fat bias makes everything worse, including the horror of becoming a widow. I asked Tristy for permission to share this and she agreed. I asked her if she would prefer that I share it anonymously because, unfortunately, people and blogs I highlight here often become the focus on my trolls and, showing the bravery that makes her a hero of mine, she told me to go ahead and link to her work. So I’m asking that if you came here because you hate my work, whether you are from reddit, 4chan or some other forum, please direct your aggression at me and not at a woman who is trying to get through one of the most difficult experiences that can happen to someone. Thank you.
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Book and Dance Class Sale! I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!