Tuesday night, Lesley Kinzel started the hashtag #DiagnosisFat to talk about the ways doctors mistreat and misdiagnose fat people due to their assumptions about weight. People have been telling these stories in FA spaces for years, and some of them have been collected on the blog First, Do No Harm and on the “Bad Doctors” tag of This Is Thin Privilege. But seeing so many stories pour out so quickly, all in one place, was powerful and horrifying.
They range from the merely shitty to the breathtakingly cruel:
Reading through the tweets–which I’ve collected most of here–I thought the same thing I always do when I hear these stories: I. Am. So. Goddamn. Lucky.
I’ve had a few brushes with incompetent medical professionals, but they had nothing to do with my size. And thankfully, my pushiness was enough to get the treatment I needed before any lasting harm was done. (Pro tip: if you spend a lot of time in the woods, especially if you live in New England, and suddenly develop a fever, persistent headache, and/or a red round rash–get tested for Lyme disease, and get on anti-biotics ASAP, no matter what cockamamie theory your doctor may come up with to explain your symptoms.) For the most part, I’ve somehow come out unscathed by institutions that systematically harm people like me.
And I’m angry. I’m angry that my experience of receiving decent healthcare is a lucky exception rather than the norm. I’m scared that my luck won’t last. I’m pissed as hell that so many progressives/liberals/leftists still see fatness itself as a public health problem, rather than understanding that fat stigma is what maims and kills.
I’m also grateful that social media allows us to share our stories, to speak out, to support each other. I have been especially grateful for Twitter lately, for its immense potential for both storytelling and organizing (see: the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which has organized its many powerful actions mainly through Twitter).
Sometimes, random people even listen–yesterday, I had a discussion with two people who came across the #DiagnosisFat hashtag, and saw fatness as a problem, but were willing to listen and have their assumptions challenged. Twitter is known for its trolls, who can be pretty awful–but there are also good people listening and learning every day.