The Other “F” Word

No, not Fuck. Not Feminist, either.


I am what is known as an “in-betweenie.” I am, as this lovely post describes, neither a size 8 nor plus size. I am “in between.”

“Wait a second! If you’re NOT plus sized, why are you even writing about this?”

Couple of reasons that don’t just have to do with the importance of society as a whole learning how to treat fat people as, you know, PEOPLE.

One, now that I’m vaccinated (House Pfizer), I’m about to get a physical for the first time in three years. Normally, I go every *other* year, because I’m not managing any chronic conditions, so there’s usually not much change from year to year. Well, I was due to go in March 2020, so that didn’t happen, hence three years.

In the interim, the practice I go to has moved locations and basically the entire staff of doctors has turned over. As I mentioned, I’m an “in-betweenie” but according to the BMI chart, I am just a hair shy of “obese.” The primary care physician I used to go to and I understood each other on this front, though. After my first few visits with her, where every single time, she’d look me over, look my chart over, and ask: “Did they record your weight correctly?” she finally asked: “Do you think you might be unusually dense?” I don’t think she was trying to politely call me stupid, and yes, among other things, I’m negatively buoyant. That is, I’m denser than the amount of water I displace, unlike most people, who can float. I exercise a lot, my numbers are good, so I never got The Talk about how I’d Be So Much Healthier If Only I Would Lose 25 Or Better 30 Pounds.

Well, now I’ll be seeing a new doctor. And I have to admit, I’m anxious that she’s going to hassle me about my weight. And I am not looking forward to that.

The utter contempt with which the medical establishment treats fat people is well documented – and obscene. The fact that anyone, anywhere would be worried that their doctor is going to be too busy judging them to provide competent care is unacceptable. And yet that’s the reality that FAR FAR too many people face. And you know what it doesn’t help anyone do? Be healthier.

On a more positive note, there’s been some great Fat Acceptance stuff happening in pop culture lately. I can highly recommend two shows: Dietland (if you like your humor EXTREMELY dark) and Shrill (if you want a little sweetness with your incisive social commentary).

Both are based on eponymous books, by Sarai Walker and Lindy West respectively.

Dietland follows Plum (Joy Nash) as she learns to stop apologizing for her existence as a fat woman in concert with the rise of the Jennifer movement, which seeks to visit consequences on criminal men the official justice system has allowed to avoid them.

Shrill follows Annie (Aidy Bryant) through the normal ups-and-downs of being in your 20s: feckless boyfriends, fighting for career opportunities, supporting your friends even when you don’t agree with their choices, parental illness, etc. But Annie is also fat, which impacts all those things, as she works through growing up and coming into her own as a woman and a professional writer. And Annie *never* apologizes for her existence as a fat woman, even if some of the people around her can’t always deal with that.

And that’s what I wish for all of us – thin, fat, in-betweenie – radical self-acceptance and NEVER apologizing for who we are.

Image of Fat Acceptance movement activist Maui Bigelow found here (and you should go read the post).

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

7 responses to “The Other “F” Word

  1. I hope you get another reasonable and kind doctor! I have faced this, too. Once I scheduled a same-day appointment for a recurring ear infection with my ENT so he could see it the day of to help us figure out the cause. He was out that day so they put me with the other ENT at the clinic. He spent 10 minutes telling me I needed to lose weight and never even looked at the ear. Good luck on the appointment. Hope she’s another good one. 🙂

  2. Stephanie Barber

    I will be 60 this year. I’ve already gone thru menopause. I’ve reached the stage of invisibility, where my doctors ignore my concerns and blow off my conditions as “Oh, you’re just getting older.” I feel like society tells older women we are just wasting valuable real estate, and it sucks balls.

  3. The BMI index is kind of low in my opinion. People with a lot of muscles can even be seen as “almost fat.”

  4. All the good luck in the world with your new doctor. 🙂 … and let’s not even get started on the clothing industry and big women.

  5. Well said. Good luck with your doc.

  6. Our culture tends toward the idea that “if you just lose weight” everything will be better. But over 90% of people who try to lose weight fail no matter what method they try. It’s surely not because 90% of dieters don’t really care or aren’t really trying, not given all the punishment that overweight people face in our culture. Until medical science can figure out how weight can effectively be adjusted, they need to quit advising people to do the near-impossible, treat them as they are, and do it respectfully. Everyone else needs to stick a sock in it before offering “friendly” advice, as if being of normal weight makes one a weight loss missionary. I’m of normal weight by all measures even though I have the eating habits of a hippo with a sweet tooth, however hard I try to amend them. All I know is that “just lose the weight” is incredibly clueless advice.

  7. Just to circle back, new doc is great. She asked me about exercise (lots, always) and nutrition (quite good, thanks!), but didn’t say word one about my weight. And she’s a New Orleans native, so we bonded over that and our shared love of belly dance. She’s new to this area, so I was able to hook her up on the local dance studio scene. WHEW. Thanks to everyone – and, to reiterate, NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO WORRY THAT THEIR DOCTOR MIGHT BE TOO BUSY JUDGING THEM TO PROVIDE QUALITY CARE.

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