Don’t let the nurse-y side eye get you down.
Babes. I have a confession. I try not to tell people unless they already know me and think i’m not the actual worst. I’m four posts in to this blog so I’m thinking if you are still with me that you are ready. Here it is: I am a health care provider, a nurse to be specific. A fat one, but still. And on behalf of healthcare providers I would like to offer you fat babes my sincerest apologies for our dickish behaviour towards fat. We, as a group, are deeply uninformed, thoroughly incompetent, and essentially body phobic assholes. Its not you, it is so totally us.
We don’t read the articles about health(if you want that) at any size, we don’t see the journal articles about how fat people live longer, we have never heard of the ‘obesity paradox’, we don’t go out of our way to learn about how to make space for fat bodies in healthcare. And for this i am deeply sorry.
We consume the same epic bullshit media as the rest of the world and it makes us bad at our jobs. You know what i mean, yeah? Oprah talking about bread and weight watchers in the same breath, vogue cosmo marie claire who do a ‘size issue’ once a year (as if that gets them off the hook for the other 11 months), celebrity magazines dedicated to dissecting celebrity bodies (too thin, too fat, what not), and shame-y public health campaigns that, for some reason, love to use exactly no evidence for their social marketing. Healthcare providers have been trained in the same way that all of us have – to hate our bodies and to believe that changing our physical appearance is the answer to living life to the fullest (Fun Fact: it’s not).
Then your friendly wannabe docs and nurses et al go to healthcare school. In the beginning it’s ok. We learn that there is no magic bullet in healthcare, that healing is complex. So far so good.
Unfortunately for fat babes everywhere, eventually shit gets really real in healthcare school and we learn the most messed up logic fail in medicine:
That ‘lifestyle changes’ are the solution to it all- wait, what? Especially for fatties – oh hell no.
Suddenly, despite that earlier training about how there is no magic bullet in healthcare, we are taught that, for fat people, there is and that bullet is a diet. It is this moment where everything goes sideways and all of a sudden losing 20 pounds will cure cancer.
And so this begins our training in talking out of both sides of our mouths; learning to say things like ‘dieting doesn’t work’ at the same time as we tell you that ‘losing ten pounds will cure whatever ails you’. It is nonsensical at best, and, actually, harmful at worst. Yay.
We are totally and hopelessly fucked up when it comes to taking care of fat babes.
I am not going to get into it with anyone about whether losing weight is or isn’t good for you – perhaps another blog I will just post an epic list of journal articles backing up my shit, but not today. BECAUSE THE POINT IS MOOT. The fact is that all of this conditioning and weird health care training has lead healthcare providers to believe that we get to have an opinion about someone else’s body. The straight up truth is: no, we fucking don’t.
We don’t need to weigh you at every check up to do our jobs, we don’t need to lecture you about your food choices, we certainly don’t need to give you gowns that barely cover your hot asses, and we definitely don’t need to prescribe weight loss as a cure all. Doing these things is not healing, it is not sound medicine, and it is not trauma informed. It is about punishing you for being a hot fat babe that believes you have a right to be cared for by the healthcare system (which you completely do, FYI). Ima say it again to be totally clear: none of this stuff is about true healing nor is it about health. It is about being a massive douchebag.
You have the right to come and see us with a flu, or a sexually transmitted infection, or a broken bone without hearing about how your body needs to change. You have the right to talk about post partum depression without being told to lose weight. Hell, you have the right to see us about high blood pressure, diabetes, and sore backs (you know ‘fat people problems’) without us talking to you about how your body needs to change. Unsolicited advice, lectures and shame are not acceptable healthcare interventions nor are they effective.
And yet. And yet.
So many fat babes see their healthcare providers with dread in their hearts. Or they don’t go at all. We are denied healthcare(however subtly) because of how healthcare providers talk to us, or we get healthcare that doesn’t actually get at the heart of healing. And we internalize it – we blame our fat, or our lack of strength, our confidence or our motivation. We turn it inwards instead of looking at why we feel these ways.
So, i would like to say a few things as a healthcare provider. The poor care and cruelty we display in serving fat people is not your fault. Your dread and fear and avoidance are brilliant goddamn survival strategies. You have adapted to shaming and problematic healthcare in the most reasonable and honest way. You are protecting yourself in the best way that you can from a system that is far from kind. Fat babes deserve better. We deserve healthcare providers that honour how our bodies have gotten us this far, that see that fat babes are the strongest survivors, and that our fat bodies have carried us through life, have created life, have survived trauma, and have made us the fierce hot babes that we are.
I know that most of us don’t get that kind of care. I know because I don’t get it either. So, fat babes, survive healthcare providers, survive us however you have to: by stepping on that scale or by refusing to, by demanding better care from your provider or by quietly searching for someone new. However you navigate your way among us is the right way. Your glorious bodies are not any of our business unless you want them to be.
You are beautiful and you are fine. Your soft bellies and strong thighs are getting you through this world, not us.
That tank top says ‘blah blah blah blah’. Im not saying i wear it to the doctor’s, and im not saying i dont. 😉