Tag Archives: fear

Doctor Posts Joke Video Demonstrating Stigma That Kills People. Where’s the Hippocratic Oath When You Need It?

So apparently Dr. Terrible is getting a run for his money in my all time list of creeps.  Meet Dr. Irresponsible and Dr. Hatemonger.

So yesterday, a number of people told me about a video posted on Kevin MD that was horrible beyond the normal bonds of horrible.  (Sorry, no power on earth will compel me to link to that ish.  Some things deserve exactly zero clicks.)  And the first thought that came into my mind is, “This video is going to kill people.  Literally.  People are going to see this video and they are going to not go to the doctor and they are going to die.”

You see this video, created by Waqas Khan or (Who calls himself Dr. I Am Sorry) was one of the most nightmare cases of bigotry, prejudice and racism I have seen in a long time.  (Again, not willing to give clicks here.  Google it if you must.)  In this video (which is part of a series of videos of unrestrained bigotry by the way) we see Miss Fatty going to the doctor.  In this short video we get to see all of the following tropes played out:

  • Fat people are slow.
  • Fat people are pushy.
  • Fat people eat nothing but junk food.
  • Fat people are completely incapable of understanding what they are eating.
  • Fat people are lazy.
  • Fat people have done nothing to try to lose weight.
  • Fat people are stupid.
  • Fat women will never find a man.
  • Fat people believe that there is a magic pill that will make them thin.
  • Fat people are guaranteed to get diabetes.
  • Fat people understand nothing about their bodies or their health.
  • Fat people never exercise.
  • Fat people don’t do anything their doctors tell them to do.

Oh and by the way, did I mention that Ms. Fatty is African American?  So all those stereotypes, yup, you can apply them ALL to African American women while you’re at it.  And you can add:

  • African American Women are fat.
  • African American Women are bossy.

A lot of this is punctuated by soliloquies by Dr. I Am Sorry. (Or “Dr. You Should Be Sorry and I Predict Will Be Soon” as I call him) spouting anger and bile and vitriol and bigotry towards his imaginary non-compliant patients that make it clear he has nothing but disgust and hatred towards them.

Okay.  Now let’s get to the killing people part.

We know from several sources, including the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity that weight stigma among American medical professionals is rampant.  In one study 24 percent of nurses reported being repulsed by obese patients and 12 percent preferred not to touch fat patients.  In another study, 48 percent of nurses reported being uncomfortable treating fat patients and 31 percent reported a preference for not having to care for obese patients at all.  Yet another study involving doctors found that two-thirds reported that their obese patients lacked self-control, and 39% stated that their obese patients were lazy.

Prejudice towards obese people in medical settings is well documented and you can bet that patients are aware of it.  Naturally for some fat people, this awareness makes them more fearful about going to the doctor.  In some cases it makes them delay going to the doctor or avoid going to the doctor altogether.  In one study, over 12 percent of women said they canceled or delayed doctor appointments due to concerns about how they would be treated regarding their weight.  In this same study, embarrassment over weight and concerns about how the doctor and staff would treat them was cited as the number one reason among women for cancelling or delaying appointments.  It is also well documented that when people delay or stop going to the doctor, they get sicker and they die sooner.

So we have a situation where:

  1. Doctors, nurses and medical students have a demonstrated bias against fat people.
  2. Fat people are aware of this bias.
  3. The awareness of this bias causes fat people to delay or avoid going to the doctor.
  4. The number one prescription of doctors for people is weight loss even though there is no medically proven (outside of amputation) method to achieve this for most patients–at least not long term, and the weight loss “cure” suggested by doctors is more likely to leave patients sicker, sadder and fatter than before.

And the solution suggested by these two “doctors”  is to create (Dr. Waqas Khan) and publicize (Dr. Kevin) a video that shows a fat African American woman actively demonstrating every stereotypical view that medical professionals typically hold about African American women and fat women while simultaneously demonstrating the medical profession’s hatred and disgust towards these very patients?  How is this not convincing even more people of size not to go to the doctor?  How is this not eventually killing people who have decided not to go to the doctor?  How is Hippocrates not jumping out of his grave to take away their medical licenses?

It’s time for doctors to realize that holding a lot of unsubstantiated and biased views about people of size is lazy, unethical, dangerous and deadly.  And it is way past time for doctors to realize that posting a pile of hate that pours lighter fluid on an already painful and problematic situation for a little click bait is beyond irresponsible–it can be fatal.

In short, shame on you doctors.  Shame. On. YOU.

Sincerely Yours,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Sorry, RogerEbert.com, It’s Not Okay that Sadness is Fat

Guess which one is Sadness. Go on. Guess.

Recently I saw a piece by columnist Olivia Collette Roger Ebert. com called “Why Can’t Sad Be Fat?”  The piece was written in response to the recent backlash regarding Pixar’s recent release “Inside Out”.  In the film, which takes place primarily inside the head of an 11 year old girl, there are characters embodying various emotions including anger, disgust, joy, fear and sadness.  In particular, the article skewers Joni Edelman, editor-in-chief at Ravishly.com, feminist and body-positive activist, about a piece she recently wrote for The Huffington Post.

Let’s first address the fact that Joni admits she wrote the article without having seen the movie first.  In retrospect, this was probably a bad idea.  I don’t believe it invalidates Joni’s argument.  It just makes it awfully easy for the opposing side to take cheap pot shots at her.  And they did.  Yes indeedy.

I did see the movie.  And in many ways, I liked it.  But immediately afterwards, I asked my hubby, why did they have to make Sadness fat?  You see, the character called Sadness is blue, wears a frumpy sweater and glasses and is, well, fat.  This is in contrast to the character called “Joy” who is thin, yellow, tall, twirly and wears a gorgeous green Doris Day dress.

I was frustrated.  Because I liked the movie quite a lot.  The movie featured a female lead who loved to play hockey, came from the Midwest, also loved unicorns, and was all around cool.  I loved the fact that sadness was recognized as an important human emotion, and that when the main character Riley is told to put on a brave face regarding a cross-country move to San Francisco, and tries to squash her feelings of sadness, all heck breaks loose.  It’s important to acknowledge that we need to feel sad sometimes.

In many ways the movie is great.

But why did they have to make “Sadness” short, frumpy, bespectacled and fat?  Why did they feel the need to pair fat with lazy?  In the movie, Joy actually picks up Sadness’ leg and drags her around because she’s “too sad to walk”.  Check it out (if you want) in the clip below:

And I can’t help but shake my head at Olivette’s critique of Joni.  In the article on RogerEbert.com, she suggests that Joni is the one equating fat with bad.  Olivette suggests that since Joni hasn’t seen the film, SHE’S the one projecting negative stereotypes onto the fat character and therefore missed the nuances of the film.

Firstly, if she’s a body-positive activist, I wonder what led her to assume that the fat character is a bad one. Not in an evil way, of course, but at least in a way that’s not as uplifting as Joy.

To which I reply:

right animated GIF

Look.  I love the fact that Sadness is important and that Joy misjudges her.  But (and this is a big but) you are still portraying sadness as a character who is fat, and lazy and frumpy.  There is a very, VERY strong notion in our country that being fat is an outward manifestation of being emotionally unbalanced.  That we are fat because we are sad and then we are sad because we are fat.  If I had a dollar for every time I came across an ad or a program or a person in my life who insisted that once I learned how to be happy, once I learned to be emotionally fulfilled, I would stop eating and the pounds would just melt away.  “Fat people shouldn’t be hated.  They should be pitied.  Because they are sad which makes them eat, which makes them more fat, which makes them more sad, bless their hearts.”  Grrrrr.

I understand fully that the Joy character initially misunderstands the Sadness character in the movie.  And I am really clear about the transformation that happens as Joy understands the importance of Sadness to Riley.  But it still doesn’t do anything to take away from the Fat=Sadness=Fat trope in the movie and in the world.

And I don’t buy the argument that if we made Joy fat, the movie would be criticized for furthering the Fat=Jolly stereotype either.  (I.E. you just can’t make those fat people happy no matter what you do, so why try?)  I am glad that this film gets so many things so right.  But it doesn’t take a away a little feeling of Sadness that they had to do it by showing very young girls that the fat girl and the thin girl can be friends, but the fat girl can’t ever really be happy.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hear me speak about body positivity at YOUR school?  Check out my speaking page HERE.

All About Gifts

During this time of year, it’s pretty natural for us to think about gifts.  We’re frantically making finishing touches on the gifts we’ve yet to give, reflecting warmly about the gifts we’ve already given and received and looking forward with either anticipation or dread towards the gifts we’ve got coming in the future.

But when I talk about gifts, I’m not only talking about those wrapped packages we receive on special days, but also about those talents and special blessings we have that we can share with the world.

But so often, because we live in a world obsessed with physical appearance and in a world that is so unkind to people who don’t meet the impossible media standard of beauty, I see people who are not able to enjoy or share their gifts.  So many amazingly talented, intelligent, kind, funny and gifted people are simply unaware of these gifts.  So often, I talk to someone, especially someone of size about their gifts and they respond in fear and negativity.  They say things like, “I’m not really talented.  There’s nothing really all that special about me.”  Or even if they acknowledge a talent, they don’t feel that their talent is of sufficient magnitude to share with the world.  They say things like, “Oh I couldn’t sing in public, I’m not good enough.  And people would just laugh at me.”

Let me stop right here and say, I get it.  I procrastinated in writing my book and coming out into the public eye for years because I was afraid.  I was afraid people would say mean things to me.  I was afraid people would laugh at me.  I was afraid people would discount me because I am fat.  And you know what, once I started to really share my gifts out in the world, all those things happened.  People refused to study exercise with me because I wasn’t thin.  People said incredibly mean things to me, even on national television.  I got hate mail, and I get hate mail.  Some of it is incredibly ugly.  Nearly all the things I feared, in at least some small part, have come true.

But none of that icky stuff begins to compare with the feeling I get from sharing my gifts with other people.  None of that yuck comes close to the feeling I get, when somebody calls or emails or simply comments to say that in some small way, I helped them.  None of that hate spewed by others compares to the feeling I get deep in my bones when I know that I am doing at least some of the stuff I was put on this earth to do, and I am breathing deeply and  living loudly and to my purpose.  None of that even comes close to the feeling I got when I walked out on stage of the Katie Couric show to talk with the world about what it means to love ourselves the way we are right now.  The feeling of being what I should be, and the feeling of helping  is radically joyful.

When I speak in public, especially when I speak to young people like I recently did at USC, I am careful to always talk about this.  When I talk about the costs of the “War on Obesity” and the costs of fat hate in our society, I always talk about the costs to each of us individually and to the world at large of large populations of people not daring to even dream about living fully.  I talk about the costs of a significant percentage of people in our world who deny their gifts or hide them under a bushel basket because of the very real fear that they will be laughed at, derided and scorned because they don’t look the way society dictates they should.  And I remind people that it is not just the individual cost to each person who does not derive as much joy as they would like from living to their purpose, it is also the cost to everybody else in society who doesn’t get the benefit of those shared gifts that makes this hatred of certain body types so very, very expensive.

It’s not always easy to admit to and share your gifts.  I know this.  But one thing that seems to make it easier is to try to live in the present.  If we dwell on past hurts or we anticipate future pain, we draw into ourselves.  We curl up and we don’t give.  One of the keys to sharing our gifts seems to be living in the now.

Take a look at our friend from Kung Fu Panda.  At one point, Po was ready to give up.  Mr. Panda states, “I probably sucked more today than anyone in the history of Kung Fu–in the history of China–in the history of sucking.”  He was frustrated and embarassed.  He was laughed at and derided by the other creatures in the Dojo.  But Master Oogway reminds Po that, “Yesterday was history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  But today is a gift.  That’s why it’s called the present.”

So during this holiday season, I would invite you to consider your gifts.  I promise you have them.  You have talent.  You have worth.  You have energy and time.  You have ideas.  You have  compassion and joy and laughter to share with the world.  And you have the gift of today in which to share those gifts with us.  Please share.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want a gift to help you learn how to share YOUR gifts?  This month I’m giving away “5 Things That can Help You Love Your Body Right Now! for free to members of my clique.  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

Why I am NOT Shopping at CVS

Employees of "Gattica" surrender a drop of blood for analysis before starting work each day.

Employees of “Gattica” surrender a drop of blood for analysis before starting work each day.

There’s been an awful lot of talk lately about CVS and their recent decisions regarding health care for their workers.  It seems that CVS has implemented a policy that states that employees have a choice between submitting to a health screening or paying $600 more per year in health insurance premiums.  The screening (paid for by CVS) will measure several “health metrics” including blood pressure, blood glucose levels, cholesterol, height, weight and BMI.  Apparently this information will then be turned over to a third party.  What we don’t know is what the third party plans to do with this information and how the third party and/or CVS will use this information to help their employees be any healthier.  I submit that helping employees be healthier really has nothing to do with it.

Look, if you want to give your employees incentives to see their doctors twice a year–fine.  Regular checkups with your doctor make sense.  They help employees manage health and catch problems early.  But I can think of no reason why handing this information over to anyone other than your own doctor will do anything to improve your health.  Not one.

The only reason to hand this information over is so that a company–be it CVS or a mysterious “third party company” can start harassing you for being in a “higher risk” category.  That harassment may come in the form of emails or phone calls.  That harassment may come in the form of additional payments you need to make as long as you stay in a “higher risk” category.  And believe me, the quotation marks are deliberate when I say “higher risk” category.

Every single one of these metrics has a strong, and I mean STRONG genetic component.  They are not measures of behavior or lifestyle.  They are statistics about bodies.  Lifestyle may be a component of having diabetes in some people.  Some people are simply born with a very high disposition to diabetes.  So you may have two people, one diabetic and one not who engage in extremely similar lifestyles with very different outcomes.  The same is true of cholesterol levels and blood pressure.  So how is this not a Gattica style punishment of people who were born with less than perfect genes?  How much longer before, like in the movie, we will be forced to leave a drop of blood in the scanner before starting work every morning?

And then there’s the question of collecting height, weight and BMI data.  Despite the overwhelming evidence that BMI, height and weight do not serve as accurate measures of personal health, we are still collecting this data.  Why?  I’ll tell you why.  Because fat people are discriminated against in this country.  Fat people are blamed for everything in the US from rising health care costs to rising prices on airlines.  If you have to look to a socially acceptable scapegoat on which to visit higher health insurance prices, you will choose the fatties.  Don’t believe me?  Just check out the comments section of any news story covering this decision by CVS.  They are universally full of righteous thin people talking about how those fatties are driving everybody’s costs up and deserve to be punished “for their own good”.

Some argue that insurance companies already charge smokers more money.  But let me be very clear about this.  Smoking is a behavior.  You can choose to smoke or not to smoke.  You don’t need to smoke to survive.  Weight and BMI are characteristics.  You CAN NOT determine what a person eats, how much they exercise or how healthy they are by looking at their BMI.  All you know is the proportion of their height to their weight, and the proportion of extra costs and stigma it is socially acceptable to heap upon that person.

Other risk behaviors are notoriously expensive and difficult to monitor.  Behaviors like drinking, not sleeping enough, distracted driving, uncontrolled stress, not looking before you cross the street and skydiving cannot be measured with a 10 second test in a doctor’s office.

So to reiterate, why are we using weight and BMI to measure a persons health risk rather than behaviors?

1.  Unless you actually watch a person or test a person all the time, it is difficult to know whether they are telling you the truth about stated behaviors.

2.  BMI and weight, while poor proxies for real data about health require only extremely easy and inexpensive tests to determine.

3.  It is socially acceptable in our country to blame fat people for anything and everything.

This is why I will no longer shop at CVS.  They have chosen to pass insurance costs on to those who may or may not engage in higher risk behavior than their co-workers but are probably less genetically blessed than their co-workers.  And they are already passing health care costs on to those of us who are already discriminated against when seeking a job and are already payed less than those of us who are thin.  It’s not okay with me.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Big Girls on the Red Carpet

Jeanette working the Red Carpet with the two directors of the Haute Curves Fashion Show for LA Fashion Week: Angela Rene’ AKA “The Purple Diva”, CEO of PurpleDivaDesigns.com and Jasmine Epperson, CEO at Kris Eliza Boutique

On the list of things we big girls are told we will never experience, you can add wearing beautiful clothes.  As a kid, I never thought I’d get to wear gorgeous things and the idea that there would be plus-sized models seemed extremely remote.

So in my week of saying “neener, neener, neener” to the list of stuff we fluffy folk “shouldn’t expect to enjoy,” I’m telling you that the models ROCKED THE HOUSE at this past weekend’s Haute Curves fashion show for LA Fashion Week.  For over two hours we watched unbelievably gorgeous men and women of all sizes, small to super-sized, strut down the runway in some extremely gorgeous clothes.  And folks, these were not your mama’s muumuus.  There was an awful lot of extremely beautiful clothes from delightfully weird to sporty to super sexy on that runway.  Angela and Rene put on an absolutely spectacular event!

The Fat Chick near the runway at the Haute Curves fashion show.

So besides the need to feed my considerable ego by showing you pictures of the cool thing I got to do on Saturday night, why am I sharing this with you?  I think it’s important to bust myths about what people of size can expect for their lives.  I know for me, the panic over the things I thought I would miss as a plus-sized woman, like true love and a kickin’ black leather skirt I could wear, once filled me with feelings of panic.  And I think in some cases our loved ones (especially our parents) are unduly fearful of the things we will miss out on or can’t have if our bodies are larger than societal ideals.

It took several decades, but I now realize that there is virtually nothing completely unavailable to me as a person of size.  (Well maybe a comfortable coach-class airplane seat, but I’m not sure ANYBODY feels comfortable in one of those.)  And it has taken several decades, but those who love me most have come to realize that I can do all that I want and have all that I dreamed of without losing 100 pounds first.  And let me share with you, it has been an absolute blessing and a joy for all of us to just calm the heck down about the whole thing.

Yes Virginia, there is a Sexy Santa Claus costume just for you.  There’s even a fabulous black leather skirt in your size, just waiting for you to claim it.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Thursday Theater: The Fat Chick Talks About Bullies

My response to Jennifer Livingston’s amazing video and my entry for Ragen Chastain’s Amazing New Project.

:o)

Jeanette

PS: We. Will. Win.

The Ongoing Costs of Bullying

It seems like everybody is talking about what television anchor Jennifer Livingston said on air on WKBT in La Crosse, WI.  If you haven’t heard it yet, go on up and watch the video.  I’ll wait.  In her video she talks about how we not only need to stand up to bullies, but also be an example to our children and show them how not to be bullies.

October is National Bullying Prevention month, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that Jennifer has helped bring bullying about weight to the forefront.  It seems to me that much of the discourse on bullying has been dominated by discussions of race or gender or sexual preference.  It also seems to me that in many of the discussions about bullying, weight has been left right out of the equation.  So I’m thrilled that weight is coming into the discussion and that “concern trolling” is being called out as a form of bullying.

I admire Jennifer so much for standing up to bullies in such a public way.  She’s not only standing up in public, but she’s standing up at work.  And working in television news is no picnic.  I know she worked very hard to get that coveted morning anchor spot.  She undoubtedly won that spot over a lot of other competitors.  A lot of those competitors were probably thinner and more closely mirrored current societal standards of appearance for a television anchor.  Just doing her job every day in such a public and competitive sphere is pretty darn brave.  To risk all she worked for, to risk the wrath of television viewers and pundits alike, for ‘coming out’ as a fat person, takes amazing strength.  And as a Midwestern girl, raised in Wisconsin, I can tell you that calling attention to herself in this way, putting herself forward like this in the town of La Crosse, WI flies in the face of a lot of our “nice girl” training.  It takes unbelievable courage.

As a fellow producer, I also want to call out the producers at WKBT for having the guts to put this on TV.  I’m talking about morning show producer Kelli Hoff andnews director Anne Paape as well as the rest of the producing team.  News at the local level is an extremely competitive business.  Allowing Jennifer to take that much airtime to share an extremely controversial and polarizing viewpoint takes serious guts.  That producer’s job is on the line for this.  It was a big risk, but luckily the response seems to be largely positive.

I am so glad that a light is being shined on this bullying business.  Because I think it’s time that we understood the real costs associated with it.  There’s the cost to kids concentration levels and education.  Can somebody who’s being tortured every day really focus on school?  Can they get the grades?  Can they do what they need to do to compete for those rapidly dwindling and extremely valuable spots at their favorite college?  Will they even survive school?  Or will they take their own precious lives and thus deprive the world of themselves?  And if they survive school, will they survive intact?  Or will they commit suicide a little bit every day by being smaller, being less than, blending in, and not being noticed?  Will these kids be what they were meant to be?  Will they dare?  Or will they let that part of themselves that is responsible for seeing that torture never happens again, that they are never hurt that way again, take charge?

That is what is so very exciting to me about what I saw morning anchor Jennifer Livingston do on television  yesterday.  She wasn’t just standing up to bullies that are after her now.  She was standing up to every bully she’s ever faced.  She was standing up to that part of her that told her that she had a good thing going with her anchor job and she shouldn’t blow it.  She was standing up to the part of her that told her she should be quiet and blend in.  She was standing up to the part of her that said she should be lesser so as to present a smaller target.

I want to thank both Jennifer and WKBT for standing up not only to the bullies they face now in the public and the board room but also to all the bullies they have faced their entire lives.  Your courage is an inspiration.

Sincerely,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick