My Experience Saying "No thank you" to the Doctor's Office Scale
Last week, I had an appointment scheduled with my physician. I’ve known my doctor for almost 8 years - she cared for me through my two pregnancies. I’ve always liked her as she is kind, compassionate, energetic and really takes her time.
Leading up to this appointment, I started thinking about the research and experiences from patients surrounding weight stigma. Since I am in a smaller body, I have not had the experience of clinicians advising weight loss or making me feel bad about my body size. However, too many individuals in larger bodies avoid the doctor’s office because of the emphasis placed on weight loss recommendations each time they go. Ragen Chastain has written about this issue on her blog, Dances with Fat. She highlights how her symptoms have been ignored by practitioners who have instead focused on her body size, despite being metabolically healthy. It is a huge problem when individuals avoid care because of this fear - this is how diagnoses are missed or delayed. Weight stigma is a missing factor in most research studies, causing associations between disease and body size to be made unjustly.
When working with clients in my office, the issue of the scale often comes up. Some clients have created plans for how they will address the issue of being weighed and the triggering feelings or conversations that often stem from this activity. These plans have included declining the scale, closing eyes, or turning around as to not see the number.
In order to experience what it might be like for my own clients to decline the weigh in, I decided that I would say “no thank you” to being weighed too. The medical assistant seemed a little annoyed by this and jotted something down in her chart. When my doctor came in, she very sweetly asked if I would be willing to just close my eyes and get on the scale. At that point, I explained to her my reasoning behind my actions. This lead to a really nice conversation about weight, weight stigma, why she wants to weigh her patients, and my introduction of the concept of Health at Every Size (she even wrote down the book and author - Linda Bacon, PhD - so she could look into it).
Overall, I felt glad that I had opened up this dialogue and exposed a physician that cares for highly vulnerable women in a diet-culture flooded community to this idea. While it may have been easier for me to do this as an individual who does not experience weight stigma, I encourage you - regardless of your body size - to open up the conversation with your clinicians too. Utilize the resources on Ragen Chastain’s blog or on Linda Bacon’s site if it will make you feel more comfortable. Ultimately, If your clinician doesn’t listen to your wishes to reject the diet mentality, it’s time to find one who will. Check out the haescommunity.org for clinicians practicing from a Health at Every Size approach.
I’d love to hear your experiences with this.