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Fat’s Real Barriers To Health

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Fat Justice In Healthcare

This is Aubrey Gordon, an author, podcaster, and fat justice activist. What does that mean?

When it comes to healthcare, we previously covered some ideas very similar to her work, such as how…

There’s a lot of discrimination in healthcare settings

In this case, it often happens that a thin person goes in with a medical problem and gets treated for that, while a fat person can go in with the same medical problem and be told “you should try losing some weight”.

Top tip if this happens to you… Ask: “what would you advise/prescribe to a thin person with my same symptoms?”

Other things may be more systemic, for example:

When a thin person goes to get their blood pressure taken, and that goes smoothly, while a fat person goes to get their blood pressure taken, and there’s not a blood pressure cuff to fit them, is the problem the size of the person or the size of the cuff? It all depends on perspective, in a world built around thin people.

That’s a trivial-seeming example, but the same principle has far-reaching (and harmful) implications in healthcare in general, e.g:

  • Surgeons being untrained (and/or unwilling) to operate on fat people
  • Getting a one-size-fits-all dose that was calculated using average weight, and now doesn’t work
  • MRI machines are famously claustrophobia-inducing for thin people; now try not fitting in it in the first place

…and so forth. So oftentimes, obesity will be correlated with a poor healthcare outcome, where the problem is not actually the obesity itself, but rather the system having been set up with thin people in mind.

It would be like saying “Having O- blood type results in higher risks when receiving blood transfusions”, while omitting to add “…because we didn’t stock O- blood”.

Read more on this topic: Shedding Some Obesity Myths

Does she have practical advice about this?

If she could have you understand one thing, it would be:

You deserve better.

Or if you are not fat: your fat friends deserve better.

How this becomes useful is: do not accept being treated as the problem!

Demand better!

If you meekly accept that you “just need to lose weight” and that thus you are the problem, you take away any responsibility from your healthcare provider(s) to actually do their jobs and provide healthcare.

See also Gordon’s book, which we’ve not reviewed yet but probably will one of these days:

“You Just Need to Lose Weight”: And 19 Other Myths About Fat People – by Aubrey Gordon

Are you saying fat people don’t need to lose weight?

That’s a little like asking “would you say office workers don’t need to exercise more?”; there are implicit assumptions built into the question that are going unaddressed.

Rather: some people might benefit healthwise from losing weight, some might not.

In fact, over the age of 65, being what is nominally considered “overweight” reduces all-cause mortality risk.

For details of that and more, see: When BMI Doesn’t Measure Up

But what if I do want/need to lose weight?

Gordon’s not interested in helping with that, but we at 10almonds are, so…

Check out: Lose Weight, But Healthily

Where can I find more from Aubrey Gordon?

You might enjoy her blog:

Aubrey Gordon | Your Fat Friend

Or her other book, which we reviewed previously:

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat – by Aubrey Gordon


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