Tag Archives: prejudice

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)

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Skinny Scientists and Pseudoscience and the New Scientific Method

This week was kind of a bad news good news week for the science of fatties.  On the good news front, Dr. Oz got a very public spanking in Congress for continually touting snake oil “miracle cures” for weight loss.  Claire McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate’s consumer protection panel, brought Dr. Oz to task for presenting a variety of supplements, potions and cures as effective methods of weight loss without having any,  you know, science to back it up.  When grilled by McCaskill, Dr. Oz admitted that some of the “miracle” weight loss cures (like green coffee beans) do not pass scientific muster to be presented as fact.  But he insists that he has studied them himself and recommended them to his own family.  He says he recommends stuff to his audience that he would give his own family.  Which is cool, except he is not described on TV as “Papa Oz” or “Uncle Oz”.  He’s touted on TV as “Dr. Oz”.  And TV watching people are gullible.  If a TV doctor tells them that green coffee supplements will make them miraculously thin, many people believe it is so.  And they think that if a doctor recommends something, there’s a little more scientific proof that it works than “my cousin tried this and it was awesome”.

The fact that Dr. Oz underwent this very public spanking is in some ways very encouraging.  It is in line with many other efforts by the FTC to bring “miracle weight loss” companies to task for making a whole lot of money from lying to people about the effectiveness of their products.  But if Dr. Oz behaves in a way remotely similar to these other weight loss companies (including Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers) we should be prepared for some “bobbin’ and weavin'” in the boxing ring.  After huge fines were levied by the FTC, Weight Watchers and many other competitors have started to put a tiny asterisk after weight loss claims and the teeny-tiny mousetype on the bottom of their ads says “results not typical”.  Which is a start.  But let’s face it.  When you have three glorious examples of anecdata with startling before and after pictures, that little asterisk has to work pretty darn hard.  The FTC said as much in “Gut Check” their new spotters guide to weight loss fraud.  Dr.  Oz will have to begin including his own “asterisk” regarding his “miracle” weight loss cures.  But the guy has his own TV show.  He has writers and editors that are extremely talented.  I have no doubt that he will find a way to appear to follow the letter of the law regarding truth and weight loss, while leaving the spirit of the law firmly behind.

And in this same week, I came across this piece by budding scientist Rachel Fox.  In the piece she describes why she has decided she can no longer pursue a career in science.  She has been told in no uncertain terms that she cannot be a scientist because she is fat.  And being a scientist and being fat just don’t mix.  In the piece, Fox describes the discrimination, both subtle and overt she has experienced as a budding scientist.  At one job interview for an exciting student researcher position at  a prestigious lab, Fox was told that the work was “collaborative” and that the lab didn’t want anybody on board who “was going to eat more than their fair share of the pizza”.  Fox describes other incidents where fellow researchers are appalled that she doesn’t seem to understand the “calories in, calories out” rules of nutrition.  And as we’ve seen with Dr. Terrible earlier this year, scientists and academics seem think they are free to draw whatever conclusions they like about fat and self-discipline because you know, science.

It’s important to understand that science is subject to prejudice and politics just like any other field.  Scientists expressed beliefs about the flatness of the earth and geocentric nature of the universe long past the sell by date of these notions  not because they had evidence, but rather because it was politically prudent to do so.  Modern scientists may not find themselves in an actual dungeon.  But I’m sure many other scientists like Ms. Fox can attest to the notion that doing science while fat can lead to “The Inquisition”.

So, as much as I wish I could jump up and down with glee over Dr. Oz’s trip to the Congressional Woodshed for “making stuff up” to give us fatties “some hope”, I am simply saying let’s wait and see.  When you’ve got a guy with an audience with millions of adoring fans, his own TV show, his own writers, editors, makeup people, lawyers and PR firms, we can expect a whole lot of fancy dancing, and very little scientific fact.  In fact, make it up and make it look good on TV might just be the 21st century scientific method.

 

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Why We Can’t Forget Dr. Geoffrey Miller AKA Professor Terrible

It seems a lot of the uproar surrounding Dr. Geoffrey Miller has died down.  But a new study out of Bowling Green University helps to confirm that this issue of discrimination against fat college applicants is real and maybe it’s really, really important that we don’t stop talking about it.

For those of  you who might not remember, Dr. Geoffrey Miller got himself in just a little hot water for tweeting:

“Dear obese PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth”

As I predicted, the PR poo storm did indeed hit “Biblical proportions”–at least for a while.  Dr. Geoffrey tried a multitude of evasion tactics, including a half-hearted, insincere apology and claiming that he was doing some sort of research experiment.

Many of us, including me called shenanigans on his post tweet wiggling.  And the University of New Mexico pledged to look into the whole “research experiment” claim.  They did.  And not surprisingly, they decided that the claim was baseless, that the tweet doesn’t qualify as research and they are continuing a disciplinary investigation. UNM suggests that the investigation would take several more weeks.   NYU, has not indicated they have any intent of pursuing disciplinary action against the tweeting professor.

Since then, the world has not paid much attention to Dr. Geoffrey Miller  or the issue of fat discrimination in college.  And that’s not good.

Because the study out of Bowling Green indicates that this business of fat discrimination for college applicants is a really big problem.  And as the amazing Lesley Kinzel of Two Whole Cakes points out in her brilliant article in xoJane, this is hardly the first study to indicate that fat bias in college admissions.

But the Bowling Green study looks very specifically at the issue of when college students experience the discrimination and the disproportionate effect the discrimination may have on women.  The study found that when fat and thin students did an in-person interview, the fat applicants were less likely to be admitted to college.  However, the study found, when applicants were interviewed over the phone, fat students were admitted at about the same rate as thin ones.

So my dear readers, I suggest that this is no time to be quiet on the subject of Dr. Geoffrey Miller, his ill-considered tweets or the subject of discrimination in college admissions.  Maybe now would be a good time to write some letters to NYU and UNM to let them know that Dr. Geoffrey Miller should not be let off the hook and that we are deeply concerned about college admissions discrimination.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

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Your Big Fat ASSumptions: The Right Now Show Episode 014

donkeys-who-assume

Today’s episode of the Right Now Show shares two things that you may safely assume when looking at a fat person.  We also discuss five Big Fat ASSumptions that we routinely make about people of size and whether or not those assumptions have any validity.  Enjoy watching, and don’t forget to share with all your friends:

Here’s some additional information and resources you may want to consult after watching the show:

Want to join a whole lot of other people enjoying exercise in an environment which is free of fat shaming at weight loss talk?  Check out the Fit Fatties Forum!

Want to stay up to date on the very latest info about fat and health?  Join the Fat Chick Clique.  It’s free!

Here’s a link to a lot of the most recent research about Fat and Health on my website.

Here’s some more information about fat and shame on my blog:

Here’s a comprehensive review about fat and health which reviews over 100 other major studies about fitness, fatness and health:

Here’s some information offered by the Association for Size Diversity And Health about Health At Every Size (R):

P.S. Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

Dear Dr. Terrible Your Bigotry is Showing…

professorterribleRan across this in my facebook feed today and almost wanted to cry.  This tweet from Evolutionary Psychology Professor at NYU & U. New Mexico Dr. Geoffrey Miller is really special.  It states:

Dear obese PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth

Here’s somebody who is at least in theory, well educated and yet he felt that he needed to tweet that absolute garbage.  Since the tweet has gone viral, he has taken it down and apologized.  But in my opinion, that is way too little and way too late.  Plus, I have to say, I find the apology a little bit suspect.  Here, let me interpret for you.

Dr. Miller states:

My sincere apologies to all for that idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet. It does not reflect my true views, values, or standards.

Which means, “Oh crap, I could possibly get fired for this.  I’d better retract my statement ASAP.  I’ll just say I didn’t really mean it.  That will work, right?”

Dr. Miller goes on to state:

Obviously my previous tweet does not represent the selection policies of any university, or my own selection criteria.

Which means, “Upon further reflection (or after some very tense phone calls) I realize that some of the folks who were rejected for anything by me or any of the universities at which I teach may be somewhat upset.  In fact, they may just sue us into financial oblivion.”

So hey Dr. Miller, here’s my tweet to you:

Nobody believes your stupid and transparently self serving apology. #Find a good lawyer

I can find no excuse for this sort of behavior.  None. This guy is supposed to be a teacher.  This guy is supposed to be a scientist.  And he’s drawing this conclusion based on what evidence?  None.  He doesn’t like fat people, therefore they are lazy and incapable of doctoral level work.  Oh except, not really.  He didn’t really mean it.

The fact that this guy clearly gets to make decisions about who gets to apply for a PhD is utterly terrifying to me.  And speaking of terrified, I hope that both Professor Prejudice and his university are currently shaking in their shoes.  Even if an actual lawsuit from a student who was turned away from the  university is not forthcoming, I think might just be the opening breezes of a PR poopmageddon about to go down.  In fact, I think there needs to be a social media storm of biblical proportions over this tweet.  Do you hear that my dear readers?  Let’s start twittering and peeping and let our voices be heard!  This is a rare opportunity to talk about bias at the highest levels of our learning institutions.  This is an opportunity for us to educate the educators.  Let’s get the conversation started and keep it rolling!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

Right Now Show–Episode 003: Healthcare and YOU

In episode 003 of the Right Now show, we explore the new initiative by the Association for Size Diversity And Health (ASDAH) called RESOLVED: addressing weight bias in health care.  Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick) shares some stories about her journey in healthcare and shares details about the RESOLVED project with the viewers.

For more information about the RESOLVED project, go to the ASDAH website.  And to read another story about a truly frightening misdiagnosis of a fat person, click on THIS LINK.

And finally, if you’re enjoying the show, don’t forget to subscribe at: http://www.youtube.com/jeanettedepatie.

Thanks so much!

Love,
Jeanette
AKA The Fat Chick
http://www.thefatchick.com

P.S. This marks my 365th blog post!  (One whole YEAR of blog posts=YAY!)

Don’t forget to enter your miles in the Fit Fatties Across America page on the Fit Fatties Forum.  Let’s see if we can get out of Colorado and a little further down the road!

And if you’d like more information about how to pick a doctor that’s right for you, there’s a whole CHAPTER on that subject in my book The Fat Chick Works Out!  You can buy a hard copy or an e-book, whichever you like!

The Energy Balance: Simple Arithmetic or Differential Calculus?

One thing that makes me crazy as a fat person is people spouting the old energy balance equation at me.  They say, if you’re fat, the reason is simple.  You eat too much and you exercise too little.  They suggest that body mass is a simple equation that looks like this:

food=exercise means stasis

food>exercise means fat

and food<exercise means thin

They suggest that it is “simple arithmetic”.  Seems logical right?  And blessedly simple?  All I have to do is exercise more and eat less and I will be thin, right?  Except in the real world, things are rarely, if ever that simple.  But if you’re thin and enjoy all the societal benefits that come with being thin, like being considered healthy, righteous and disciplined by most of your peers, you want to believe this math don’t you?  Because believing that the benefits you derive are completely under your control and that anyone can have them, allows you to feel the maximum of A) control over your environment and B) self righteousness about your situation.

I think there is some similar math going on out there about the question of wealth.  If you are a wealthy person or even a reasonably well off person, there’s a tendency to believe in an “energy balance” when it comes to money as well.  It looks sort of like this:

spending=hard work means stasis

spending<hard work means rich

spending>hard work means poor

But when we look at these equations, we start to wonder.  What about people who didn’t have parents who saved for them to go to college?  What about people who are born rich?  What about people who face prejudice because they are the “wrong” height or the “wrong” color or they speak the “wrong” language, and find it difficult to find a job?  We all know people who work very, very hard and are really, really not well off at all.  Maybe this whole energy/wealth balance arithmetic has some problems.  Maybe it’s just not that simple.

The real story about energy balance and whether or not we are fat is a lot more complex.  Just take a gander at this amazing chart that documents many of the things that can influence our weight.  There’s so much stuff on this chart, I can’t even see it all on one page.  On my laptop, I have to scroll all around to see it.  And there are new factors that influence body fat being discovered all the time–from fat genes, to fat hormones, to compounds in plastic containers to environmental pollutants to more and more complex drug interactions.  Looking at this chart, one might start to think that whether or not we are fat seems far beyond simple arithmetic.  With all of these factors swirling around, maybe it’s a little more like differential calculus.

As a society we desperately want to believe that being thin is simple.  Because simple problems cost less to solve.  Simple allows us to maintain the illusion of complete control.  And I think we desperately want to cling to the illusion of control because we are mortal beings.  We want to believe that we can control our health because we want to believe that if we follow a few simple rules, we can control whether or not we get sick and when we will die.  We want to believe that if we work hard, we will be rich.  Because it seems almost unbearably unfair that some people will work very hard for their whole lives and not have enough to eat while other people will be born to a large amount of money and will never need to work a day in their lives.  We don’t want to face the fact that some of us who have a lot of money were at least in part, incredibly lucky. And we don’t want to believe that some of us who don’t have much money at all, never will, no matter how hard we work.  And we want to believe that if we just ate a little less and exercised a little more, we would be thin, thin, thin.

The illusion of control and desire for simplification is, in many ways, hard wired into our societal systems.  But we can overcome this programming if we desire it.  We can choose to dial down the self righteousness and dial up the empathy and understanding.  We can choose to resist the urge to oversimplify our privilege in a way that makes us feel better about ourselves.  We can take on the challenge of doing the hard math problems that contain a lot more variables.  And if our situation challenges the “simple arithmetic” view of the world, we can choose not to buy into the rhetoric privileged people use to feel better about themselves.  We can embrace all of life with all of its complexity and richness.  Because true health and happiness rarely boil down to simple arithmetic.

Love,

The Fat Chick