Finding Fat-Friendly Health Care

DU + AmpleI am often painfully reminded of the fat phobia perpetuated by the medical community on a regular basis. Not just from my clients and others who have countless stories of being denied adequate health care because of their weight, but also from my own personal experience.

I was 15 years old when I went to the doctor for my annual check-up, stepped on the scale, and was told that I was getting “too heavy” and would have to eat differently. Since at age 15 I was still largely reliant on my mother for meals and my school cafeteria for lunch, I could not imagine what “eat differently” looked like, especially as it pertained to my weight. Luckily, my Mom must have delivered a private screed to this doctor (the one that later dismissed her expanding belly as “weight gain” instead of the ovarian cancer it actually was) because he never mentioned it after that and my strategy to never get on the scale again worked until my early 20s, when I turned to dieting to manage a major life crisis. Notably, after that comment from my doctor, my eating became increasingly disordered as I internalized the shame of that visit.

I was reminded of all this the other day when I went to a “sleep class” to diagnose possible sleep apnea (a long shot, but my doctor thought it was worth a try for some recent stuff going on). The person leading the class explained how to use the equipment we would take home to monitor our sleep that night. She also said, “If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea and you weigh too much, you will have to lose weight, because that is probably why you have it.” She went on to say that thin people had it for other reasons, and that once we lost weight, they could look to see if we also had it for those other reasons. As though our weight was an impermeable barrier that would obscure any other problems we could potentially have.

It took all the willpower in the world for me not to stand up on a table and have my Norma Rae fat-solidarity moment, and luckily we found that no matter what we weighed, if we had sleep apnea, we would get the APAP machine anyway. Because, you know, “you need to be able to sleep so you can lose weight.” Whereas I thought we needed good sleep for health and to feel well, silly me!!

Anyway, all this to say that we need medical care and medical providers that aren’t fat phobic, that don’t prescribe interventions that are temporary at best, and who provide us with the medical care that people in smaller, more conforming bodies get. But where can we find these providers?

That’s where Ample comes in. Aaron and I recently did a podcast with Alissa Sobo, one of the founders of Ample, a rating site for people in marginalized bodies (think fat, trans, people of color, disabled people). The creators of Ample know that when someone fears stigmatization from the doctor, they don’t go, and that can lead to worse health in the long run. But we need to know who can provide stigma-free health care – and that’s where Ample comes in.

I hope you’ll give this great Dietitians Unplugged episode a listen to find out more about Ample and how you can help build this amazing resource. THIS is how we exercise the power of voice that we do have — and we CAN create a better future.

Ample

Listen now:

Episode 50 – Finding Fat Friendly Providers on Ample with Alissa Sobo

Show notes:

Is it Ample? Aaron and Glenys talk to Alissa Sobo, the creator of Ample, the first app that rates businesses specifically on their accessibility and inclusiveness towards marginalized bodies (fat, trans, people of color and more). In this episode, Alissa talks about her origin story of being fat-shamed at the doctor when she was pregnant and why she decided she needed to create a review site for people in marginalized bodies whose needs are just not being met. She also explains how this amazing resources works and how we can all help build on it. This is something all our listeners can help contribute to and we can’t wait to introduce you to Ample! BONUS CONTENT: stay tuned to the very end to listen to our first fun bonus content!

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