Monday, March 1, 2010

Panic at the Scale

According to The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University less than half of physicians actually address a patient’s weight problem. I have never once been talked to by any of my physicians about being overweight. Not once has a doctor suggested a nutritionist or quizzed me on my diet. Why is that? Is it my sole responsibility to ask for help with weight loss? Is it an uncomfortable subject for my physicians too? Up until now I have been so self conscious and ashamed of my weight that I would never be able to even broach the topic with a doctor- because then my obesity and the risk of disease would be real. No one wants a magnifying glass held up to their flaws, including me.

In elementary school I remember feeling anxious in the pit of my stomach when I was weighed during routine exams. Surrounded by all the other kids I was scared that the nurse would announce my weight and embarrass me. Fact: All throughout elementary school I was ‘healthy’ according to BMI. Yet somehow the healthy ten year old version of myself already learned to hate her body, how sad is that?

When I go to the doctor now as an adult, I still get anxious knowing I have to be weighed. I even ask the nurse to NOT tell me my weight out loud as I turn my head to the side so I don’t have to see the numbers. As if those numbers would somehow tell me something I didn't already know. This deeply rooted insecurity, avoidance, and secrecy surrounding my body is not positive.

Is scale anxiety something other people deal with on such a severe level? Is there really a way to get over it? Ideally health care practitioners would ask patients if they wanted to be weighed. To love my body don’t I have to accept it in every form, including numerical?

Chunky, the F Word, and other terminology

"Well she's chunky like us." A good friend whispered that sentence when trying to describe to me how another female looked. I explained to her that I didn't want to be associated with a texture of peanut butter and preferred to be labeled curvy.

When referring to myself I use the term curvy. Curvy has a positive connotation. All Women have some form of hips and breasts which gives them all sexy curves. Let it be noted, I AM NOT saying that a certain body type is more preferable or better then another. I am simply stating how I choose to talk about my body.

According to the body mass index the terminology used to discuss body weight is underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese. While it's important to be educated about how healthy one is, I don't find the terms engaging or empowering in every day life. I see them as enemies attached to stereotypes.

A fellow intern once asked me, "Would a feminist call themselves fat?" I am a feminist. I have body image issues. But have I ever called myself fat? No, not out loud. Have I told myself in my head that I was fat, yes. I would argue that doesn't make me less of a feminist, but rather means I have work to do to improve my self-confidence and love for my body.

How do you refer to your weight? Does the word you use empower you? Do you say something if someone chooses to define your body in a way that offends you or hurts your feelings? Do you prefer voluptuous, skinny, full figured, petite, thick, curvy, or healthy? Why?