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New 'Don’t Weigh Me' Cards Are a Game Changer

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I live in a larger body, and I have atypical anorexia. I say atypical anorexia, because this diagnosis meets all of the requirements of traditional anorexia but without significant weight lost, or a normal to above average BMI. I say atypical anorexia, because when I say anorexia alone, I experience odd glances or outright hate and disbelief. This is part of the fatphobia I experience in the medical field and on a daily basis, and why my eating disorder continues to persist.

I also have the experience of being underweight when my anorexia was at its worst, seeing how doctors were more compassionate and caring to me than they have been when my body has been at a larger size. It has even come so far as a doctor telling me that I need weight loss surgery when I went to the doctor for something completely different, and after I asked them not to address my weight because of the presence of my eating disorder. Being weighed in itself is a huge trigger for me because of my anorexia, but it is even worse having to be weighed when going to a doctor. This is because I can almost always guarantee that my weight will be addressed, even if I go to the doctor for something that does not involve my weight. Just the idea of going to the doctor has become a huge stressor for me because of my fear of being weighed, and I know that I am not alone.

I am currently in a partial hospitalization program for my anorexia, and it was only about a week ago that my primary therapist at my treatment facility gave me a few business-sized cards that say, “Don’t Weigh Me Unless It’s (Really) Necessary.”

On the opposite side of the cards are explanations as to why being weighed is harmful in so many cases, and actually points out that individuals who live in larger bodies are more at risk for medical complications due to not wanting to seek medical help because of the weight stigma we experience.

Back of "Don't Weigh Me" cards

The beauty of these cards is that you can easily hand them out to a nurse or doctor when you don’t want to be weighed, and you don’t have to explain the reasons yourself. I know that in medical settings I often have trouble speaking up because I begin to trip over my words. These cards have already shown me that it is my right to determine if I want to be weighed or not, while also proving to me that I am not the only one who experiences the negative effects of medical weight stigma.

The more that all of us utilize these cards and provide them to our medical providers, the more we can raise awareness about the detrimental effects of weight stigma on health and wellness. While weight stigma and fatphobia
are improving, they are still ever present in our medical system. Weight is seemingly seen as the main cause of most medical issues, but that simply is not true. The more we can shed light on the idea that health of an individual should be seen through various aspects of their life instead of weight alone, the more we can increase empathy and compassion in the medical field. It is about time that these new cards have come out to allow patients to take back the power over whether their body is judged based on its size or not. Even if these cards seem like a small step, they are allowing individuals to take back power over the type of care that they receive.

If you live in a larger body and have experienced weight stigma or fatphobia at a doctor’s office, then I hope that you are able to get some of these cards for yourself. I know that they have given me some of my power back, and even just knowing that other people will be using them gives me hope. Together we can fight the idea that weight is the main cause of illness and provide a more welcoming experience for everyone seeking medical care.

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Originally published: February 15, 2022
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