medicalizing fat bodies

03Apr09

The first time I realized that I was fat was in a doctors office. I was shown charts, scolded and shamed into believing that I was slowly eating myself into an early death, I couldn’t have been older than 6. It seems obvious to me that this is highly unproductive and starts the process of internalizing body-hate.

As I got older the charts became more foreboding and the scolding became harsher and I became more ashamed of my own body, often agreeing with my doctors and pleading that I would lose weight starting tomorrow. It is now at the point that I dread doctors appointments because the first 20 minutes are always spent being chastised and told that my body does not fit properly into whatever graph they have and should spend the next years of my life exercising at least 15 hours a day and eating 5 saltines and an apple. As much as I appreciate the advice, I’m good. Doctors have not (I’m not convinced currently do) have many people’s best interests at heart. They are also working of a fucked up system of what healthy is and looks like and unless your 145 and a marathon runner you cannot fit into that model.

So whatever, fuck doctors always trying to peddle shit like Weight Watchers on me, I have wasted to much of my money on useless tapes, foods, and exercise plans doled out by my medical professionals. They can back off my wallet and my body because I’m not looking for what chart I fit into, I want to talk about holistic wellness that doesn’t commodify my body and shame me into weight loss.

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4 Responses to “medicalizing fat bodies”

  1. 1 Stephan

    Cecilia, you are so prolific. I love your blog! I recognize your tone not just because it is how you express yourself in person, but also because it reminds me of the conversations we have about ideal discourses: pragmatic, experience based and accessible. Also, I love the multimedia components – they work really well with/in your entries 🙂

  2. 2 Podgy

    That’s “had many people’s best interests at heart” not “have many people’s best interests at heart”. And I’m not 145 or a marathon runner, but I fit in their model… so I guess that’s wrong.
    Face it, our bodies are adapted to store as much fat as possible against the hardships that would be likely in the wild. We don’t face those mostly in the west, we end up fatter than we have ever been historically, and our bodies are not adapted as well for living in plenty as they are for living in lean times.
    Holistic wellness includes not dying from diseases caused by being overweight. Depending on how heavy you are, you are at more risk of these than you would be were you slimmer (but not too slim). It’s not rocket science, it’s not a conspiracy. Nor is it wrong even if you’re not that fat and have always been to idiot doctors who’ve told you the wrong thing.
    Peace.

  3. 3 Ping

    I want to reply to this blog but everything you have said is what I wanted to say. You have exaggerated beyond belief in almost ever category of this blog. A doctor should not be allowed to look out for your own interests, but your bodies. If there are no problems with a person’s body, then a doctor would be incline to say it. From a doctor’s perspective with unlimited supply(of patients), no doctor would suggest to make his job more difficult. If you cared as much about your health as you do your blog, maybe the doctor would not have any concern with your weight.

  4. 4 Ping

    I want to be clear. Please approach my assumptions and judgments with an open-mind, only disregarding them if they are blatantly false. I am not trying to anger you or make this personal because to do so would be counter to the reason why I am writing this response. I only intend to strengthen you emotionally and intellectually by pointing out reasons why I think that your blog “Medicalizing Fat Bodies” is counter-productive to your ultimate goal: holistic wellness. So please just listen to what I have to say and not how I say it.

    It seems to me that you are a sophisticated and caring young-adult with limitless potential who has an eye for injustices and intolerance in today’s society. However, I find it upsetting that even though you are an otherwise rational, practical, and motivated individual, when it comes to your body, you are not. Accordingly, I can only assume that you wrote this blog out of years of frustration, disappointment, and anger over your weight.

    I imagine that your doctors told you the dangers, risks, and consequences associated with obesity. (I will not elaborate because I’m sure that you know more than I do) The dreaded charts that you referred to were probably used to support their claims and were not intended to internalize body-hate, make you ashamed of yourself or scare you. If they have done those things, I am sorry, but anger and shame are not reasons to stop trying.
    Furthermore, I doubt that your doctors told you to exercise “15 hours a day and eat 5 saltines and an apple for the next years of your life” and that the model of fitness consists of a “145 lb. marathon runner.” What you wrote is an exaggeration of the truth and saying this only reinforces a sedentary lifestyle. By confronting yourself with a monumental task and unrealistic goals, you are making yourself feel overwhelmed. You are psyching yourself out.

    I agree that life quality is more important than quantity, but you are in danger of losing both. Considering your weight and your behavior, your faulty interpretation of “holistic wellness” condones the present and future ramifications of your weight. These limitations could be as tangible as getting tired after climbing a flight of stairs or as remote as long-term health risks. You know the limitations better than I do, but still you disregard these limitations when you say that you want to focus on holistic wellness. You are in error when you separate physical wellness from holistic wellness.

    To me, this term “holistic wellness” applies to a broad concept of wellness encompassing numerous different facets of health and how these facets are all connected. The mind and body are interrelated that whenever one is deficient the other is also handicapped. Your weight affects more than just your physical health-it effects your emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health as well. I will leave you to judge the legitimacy of this statement within your own experiences.

    You can do it, you can change. It may be that you shouldn’t waste your money on tapes, and other get fit quick schemes. However, buying healthier (and therefore more expensive) food or getting a membership to a gym could go a long way into saving you, your family, or your fellow taxpayers’ money later in life.

    It seems to me that you are telling yourself that “everything is fine if I close my eyes real hard and think it is.” It’s not. All I want you to do is eat healthy and exercise regularly and it hurts me when you imply that you have given up. Love yourself, love your body, see yourself as beautiful, and be happy. But no, you should not be content or complacent with your health and weight. I am not a doctor, I have no charts, and I am not telling you to exercise 15 hours a day for the rest of your life. I only want you to be as rational and motivated with issues related to your health as you are in other aspects of your life.


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