The Word “Obese” is the New F-word

I think the word “obese” is a cruel word and is a derogatory term. Do people know how awful it is to see that term on their medical charts when they’ve struggled with weight issues their entire life? A few years ago, I was up to 189 lbs and my doctors threw around the word obese like it was nothing. I had cholesterol issues as well. I received a phone call after some tests were done three years ago- it was my doctor’s nurse telling me that I had to stop eating red meat, that I needed to basically switch to almost all vegetables and fruit, walnuts, etc.
I had some problems with overeating that I was working on at that time, but it was not a lifelong problem, it was an issue that had a lot to do with a recent breakup. I’ve fluctuated with my weight a lot in my life. They stressed how important it was for me to lose weight, so I started drinking vegetable smoothies every day and the only other thing I ever ate was bagel thins with a little lettuce, tomatoes and lunchmeat on it once a day. I was basically going hungry for almost a year. I lost 50 lbs in that time and my doctor was telling me at the 155 lb mark, ‘oh, btw, now you’re not obese anymore,’ (smile). I got to 140 lbs and my sister had died, I got attacked… and I had stopped eating almost altogether because of grief. Then I was forcing myself to eat. I got sick and for almost a year, my menses was thrown off, I would hemorrhage for weeks… spot for weeks, hemorrhage. I thought I was dying. This went on for nearly a year. I started to gain the weight back because I was so sick. This past February my gyn told me the reason my system was thrown off is because of the weight loss. Now I am doing much better and things are back to normal but my weight is pretty high again. My point is, I already had a self image problem way before my doctors started giving me crap about being overweight. When I saw the word “obese” on my chart, and because they wanted me on a special diet because they were upset about my cholesterol, I freaked out and wanted the weight off. But it made me really ill. So either way, I couldn’t win. Instead of spending 1 minute on the phone leaving a voice-mail for a patient telling her what she can and can’t eat, doctors ought to really sit down with a patient and help them when these sorts of things need to be dealt with. Then maybe they’d understand how terrible I felt.
The reason I’m thinking of this now is because I recently read an article of how a little girl was sent home with a BMI measurement done by her school in which they told her parents she was overweight, and she wasn’t. Even if she had been overweight or extremely overweight, why give a 9 year old a complex? Our country already has enough issues with body dysmorphic disorder which in turn causes eating disorders. The least the school could have done is have the parents come into the school for a conference instead of sending the child home with a letter, expecting the child not to open it. When I was about 9 years old, I was stockier than other children my age and I noticed it. I think a doctor pointed this out, from what I recall. At that point, the kids at school didn’t. But I remember feeling very miserable about it, about not ‘looking’ like everyone else. I didn’t feel pretty or cute like the other kids. Later, I hit puberty and grew out of that stage, but that feeling clung to me my entire life.
In life, people can be cruel. The words people use can be harsh. The least doctors and schools and others in authority can do is to attempt to stop perpetrating that cruelty. A lot of people who are overweight don’t overeat. That was the ironic thing for me last fall. My doctor (who is no longer my doctor, thank God) kept accusing me of overeating, as if that was the only way to gain weight. I kept telling him that I do not overeat. I am poor and so I eat a lot of rice, beans, etc. That stays on and is harder to lose. I didn’t even drink much soda then. Yet every time I saw him, he’d ask. And that word, obese, would be written on my chart. Like the “F” word.


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