Pauline's graduation picture
This was me back then. πŸ™‚

A week or so back I went to the doctor for a sinus infection. I was one miserable human being. If you’ve had a sinus infection, then you know what I was suffering. I’m not exactly sure why the doctor decided this was a good time to grill me about stuff not at all related to my sinus infection.

So I’m sitting there, leaning my aching head on my hand, working my way through my (boring) medical history when suddenly I get this question:

“What is your weight loss program?”

I looked up. “Excuse me?” Question is repeated. Before I give you my answer (and no, I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to tell her to pound sand), let me give you a little history of me.

I used to be very thin.

I’m not that thin now.

Photo of Pauline
This is me now. Well, me a week ago. Gravity and time show no mercy.

I quit using a scale a few years ago. Now I use the “do my pants fit?” measure. If they fit, I’m good. If they get a little tight, stress usually pays a visit and takes care of that for me.

But since my little chat with the doc, I’ve been mulling things like weight and body image and being a woman who isn’t getting any younger.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised by the question…but that isn’t the point of this blog. I don’t think it should have been asked. At all. If I’d asked her about my weight, then the question would have been appropriate. But until I asked, or unless it had direct relation to my current health situation…not her business. Out of line. IMHO.Β  (Note: I’d just had my yearly physical about a month ago and my regular doctor didn’t ask any of the questions I found both intrusive and out of line.)

I realized, after much mulling…that perhaps because I was thin in high school my mental image of myself is..thin-ish. We can debate my reality all we want, but the fact is, we all have a mental image of ourselves and often those images aren’t based on reality. We have “thin” days (we hope) and we have “fat” days (we hate). What we see when we look at ourselves in the mirror is a moving target that is affected by our mood, by how we slept last night, whether we had a fight with our SO, by the time of the month or the fit of our pants…

Even the camera doesn’t give us a clear picture, because hey, it adds five pounds.

This is one reason women have body image problems. We’re constantly being told we need to “get over them,” but then society doesn’t do a lot to help us with that. Right down to busy-body docs who think its their job to fix problems we didn’t ask them about.

There are a lot of reasons women, people, gain weight. And a lot of those reasons are affected by our genetics. I should be a lot heavier than I am, but I scored some genes from my family that helps me out, not just with weight, but with cholesterol and my heart. I have no control over my genetics. None.

So what did I say to the, um, er, doctor?

“My weight loss plan is to be happy with who and what I am.”

Was I lying? Maybe a little. I have my days, but for the most part, yeah. I just want to be happy with my life, be happy with where I am in my life, and be happy with who, and how I am. It is a choice I make, because I don’t have that many years left and I’d like to spend them happy.

The fact that this doctor couldn’t let it go and kept pressing me for my ideal weight…she’s lucky I was too sick to think clearly that day…

I wish I’d told her that my ideal weight is what I am right now. I didn’t. And she pushed with a lot more stupid questions that clearly upset me, but didn’t stop her. Even though my answers got more ridiculous and confrontive.

When I left, armed with meds that made me start to feel better, I got increasingly witty and clever and yes, cutting. I hate that. I wished I’d said all of it then. Especially this:

I have no clue what my ideal weight should be, but probably won’t “achieve it” until two weeks after I’m dead.

I’ve felt a lot of different things since that visit–though mostly I’m pissed. I’m pissed that I got kicked when I was already down. I’m pissed that someone with a different, more challenging body image might have to go through that, too. I’m pissed about being judged by a number (that I didn’t ask for, btw) and not by my life and how I’ve lived it. Not by all the ways I’ve managed my challenges instead of just by the one (comfort food).

It sucked.

Do people like that really think that we don’t know we’re carrying extra pounds around? That we haven’t noticed? And do they think that weight shaming helps build us up so we’ll be “strong” enough to lose it? That making someone feel worse about themselves will help? Or drive some people to fad diets? Which they also like to shame, btw? Or straight to cookies? (My personal choice.)

Some of my favorite people on this planet struggle with their weight. Does anyone really think that if they can’t love people as they are right now, that they can love them if they are suddenly thinner or just different? That weight loss somehow makes us, what, more worthy of love? Or actually different inside?

The people who can’t love us as we are right now, don’t deserve us.

Thankfully, the important people in my life love me for who I am. Not thin. Definitely aging. Lots of gray around the edges. A lot of wear and tear from life. And happy with who and what I am. And I’m so proud of all the people in my life who aren’t perfect, but who are so amazing. They enrich my life in wonderful ways and I love them. No change necessary.

So, have you ever been blind-sided by uncalled for weight shaming? (Like there is called-for weight shaming!) Or felt judged/slammed by someone out of left field? Feel free to vent with me. All comments are loved and entered into my drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket of yummy soaps and stuff ($20 value). Winner is announced my first blog post of the new month. πŸ™‚

Pauline Baird Jones, author, writer, romantic suspense author, science fiction romance author, steampunk, humor, Project Enterprise

Perilously yours,

Pauline

Pauline likes to write characters who aren’t perfect either. Though they are often tall. Pauline has always wanted to be taller. Since she can’t be, she makes her characters on the tall side.Β 

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Weight Shaming
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26 thoughts on “Weight Shaming

  • July 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm
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    Pauline, totally agree with – none of her business. My new doc, female, asked me what my exercise program was during first meeting. I made appointment without ever meeting her, and she’s easily 60 – 70 pounds over basic healthy. I started eating healthier and lost (still losing) because I FEEL better at a certain weight. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Where you are comfortable and feel healthy. Otherwise, butt out.

    • July 30, 2013 at 7:42 pm
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      That’s it exactly! Personal choice! We all have to reach out moments in our way and at our own pace. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

  • July 30, 2013 at 1:51 pm
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    Ah yes, I can see the connection between a sinus infection and your ‘weight loss program!’

    Sometimes I think tarantulas should’ve become the dominant species on earth after the dinosaurs went extinct!
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  • July 30, 2013 at 7:14 am
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    Thanks for your post. I really loved your response of which you wish you would have said, “I have no clue what my ideal weight should be, but probably won’t β€œachieve it” until two weeks after I’m dead.” When we are not in the heat of the moment we can always think clearer and wish we could have used that ammo in the moment.

    I agree with you unless it is related to the health issue you are there for they shouldn’t be trying to create a problem. I struggle with my weight as well. But I do workout very regularly and I am careful with what and how much I eat. But that doesn’t seem to make a difference to my weight change. I work hard and don’t get results. So I had been asked that it would only make me feel worse that I bust my butt and things don’t change and now you are calling me out on it and you have no clue what I do to stay as fit as my body will possibly allow.

    You have provided us all with some good ammo if we are ever asked of our weight loss program when it should be non of their business.

    • July 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm
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      Many thanks for your kind comment, Martha. I am SO witty…after the fact. LOL I had a friend who was training for a marathon and gaining weight…mostly because her hormones were out of whack. The reality is that we are all different and you can’t reduce weight to the simplest denominator and then beat people up for things they can’t control. And then beat them up for low self esteem. And put them anti-depressants. And then conclude that all women are crazy…

      Doctors are great and they are, for the most part, good at what they specialize in. But none of them specialize in ME. I live in my body and I know more about it than anyone. I know when something is wrong and I know when things are as good as they are going to be at my age. (wry grin)

      Thank you for stopping by! πŸ˜€

  • July 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm
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    That’s no fun at all. Personally, I know when I feel my best (and it’s about 20 pounds lighter), so I’ve been doing more to take care of that. I’ve reached a new threshold of when I’ve put on too many pounds. I’m just glad that the threshold is 50 pounds lighter than it used to be. After a family vacation a few years ago, I shamed myself into losing about 70 pounds after hating the way I looked in every picture. Everyone needs to decide what their own threshold is.
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    • July 29, 2013 at 5:36 pm
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      I have to say, I could “play” with my weight more when I was younger, but really, it is still about choice. What I see is not you shaming yourself, but you choosing to change yourself. That’s the way it needs to be done. That’s really the ONLY way it works. Again, IMHO.

      Every day we all make choices, but I’ve never responded well to force or shaming. Bravo to you for doing something so hard. πŸ™‚

  • July 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm
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    Everyday I deal with ‘work vs. workout’ in my morning inner dialogue. Do I want to workout, make my body ache, distract me for the rest of the day with twinges…or do I want to eat a sensible breakfast and crawl into my work chair?
    If you have seen my release list, you know which one wins.
    Each time I see my doc I am a little more fit and she can see it in my bloodwork and my weight. she doesn’t go into fat shaming for which I am thankful, but she does keep reminding me that the further I climb on the age scale, the less the weight will budge.
    My smallest safe size would be a 14. I am currently an 18-16. Yes, I list the ‘big one’ first because that is the one that my top wears. I am the largest woman in my family and they try not to mention it. I see it in every photo. The moose amongst gazelles. I don’t need others to weight shame me. I do it on my own.
    don’t get me wrong, I like being me, but I hate not fitting in at family things.

    • July 29, 2013 at 5:34 pm
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      Well, I think you fit in with your family because they are your family. I think it is hard enough to feel good about ourselves without getting beat up by the people trying to help us, or those we need to love us as we are right now.

      But at the heart of all of it is, IMHO, PERSONAL choice. I choose not to look at or deal with my extra poundage. You’re working with your doctor and I think that’s great. Because it’s something you want to do. Glad the doc doesn’t weight shame! And thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

  • July 29, 2013 at 12:58 pm
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    Did they ask you to step on the scale on the way into the exam room?

    My answer is always “No, thanks. I have a scale at home.”

    You don’t HAVE to step on the doctor’s scales unless your health issues might relate to that. I don’t think your sinuses count for that.

    Oh, and my pants have fit through 20 pounds of weight change. It’s my damned tops that get too small!

    • July 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm
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      They did. I did it because I know that weight helps with correct dosage BUT I didn’t look. Didn’t want to know. Don’t care. My pants fit. Going forward, yeah, done with scale. LOL

      I really don’t want to think about weight. At all. Don’t have scale either! I just want to live my life.

  • July 29, 2013 at 11:41 am
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    Like you, I do not understand why you were even asked. I am assuming that the doctor is assuming everyone is overweight and therefore, must be on a weight loss program. As has been noted, one size does not fit all and never has: each one of us ages differently just as each of us processes food differently. I believe each of us discovers who we are physically and emotionally. We may receive information from others but the chore and choice is ours. Wonderful post, Pauline.
    Karen
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    • July 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm
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      Many thanks, KM. Yeah, what bothered me was the a) timing of the question and b) the question. LOL And then her persistence when it became apparent I was not happy. And I’m mad at myself for not shutting it down. Though I think I should get a pass because of my massive headache. (grin)

  • July 29, 2013 at 9:46 am
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    Sorry about the sinus infection and a doctor with an issue other than curing your sinus infection, BUT it led you to a great blog post! Silver lining.

    I have not been eating lots of things I love. It’s probably saving us a few dollars. At some point of hysterics over, you know, random life issues, I might break and buy a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and eat the whole thing. Shouldn’t make any difference. I’ve been not-eating lots of stuff AND getting more phsyical exercise in the last month than I’ve have in the last few years. I’m not saying I’ve given up all treats but,since I have not budged a single pound,I’m thinking it doesn’t matter. Well, okay, it’s hot and I’m not even hungry. But I’m thirsty. Maybe I’ve swapped sugar for WATER. Yeah, water weight, that’s it.

    Honestly, since I’m a bit heavier(OK LOTS heavier)than I was in my 99 pound skinny days, I am WAY healthier overall. And my skin cleared up too. I think I’m even happier than I was in my super skinny days. πŸ™‚ Did your doctor ask if you’re happy inside?

    I don’t think weight should be an issue (in a doctor’s eyes) unless it’s caused ahealth problem. Connection between sinus infection and weight?

    • July 29, 2013 at 5:25 pm
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      LOL This is true, Nancy and thanks for reminding me of that. I’m pretty happy with myself, too. I feel like, for an old broad, I’m not too bad. LOL But yeah, agree it should not have been brought up in that setting. Not sure I’d be happy with that presentation any time, but that’s another blog post. LOL

  • July 29, 2013 at 6:17 am
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    Ah, Pauline, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. It was definitely inappropriate at the time. A ‘sick’ visit is not the time to discuss much of anything else unless they are medically related. Sheesh, if you were having appendicitis would she have stopped to discuss your weight? She should get a clue. And good on you for having some modicum of to reject the judgment when you were sick!

    I have no idea what ‘ideal’ weight means, and I work in medicine. And I most definitely fit the medical term obese. By your picture, I can’t imagine that you are overweight to that point. The thing is that medically speaking certain weight profiles are prone to serious health issues (and yes, I know you know that), but that means I understand why the doctor was asking. I absolutely agree that it was an inappropriate time to bring it up. And if she made you feel shamed, it was the wrong way to bring it up. But how does a doctor bring up a delicate issue like weight? Medically they have an obligation to discuss what’s called ‘risky’ behaviors like smoking, using recreational drugs, and weight. I don’t know how to balance it. There is so much shaming that the overweight people get that the encouragement to strive for a healthy weight often feels like shaming as well. (I have definitely been there, heck, am there). Can we love our overweight bodies yet recognize that we can make healthier choices? I don’t think I’m there at all. I _know_ that I’m making choices that are not the healthiest. But do I make better choices? Nope. Maybe we (society, especially medical folk) need to realize that weight isn’t a one-size one-problem thing. Sorry. This has gotten to be a post of its own. It’s struck a nerve. Again, I don’t think that doctor should have addressed the issue at that visit and in that way. I sure hope your sinus infection is gone and you’re feeling better. Whether you plan to see that doctor again or not, maybe you should write her a letter telling her how inappropriate it was to discuss when you were ill. At any rate, this was a great post. (definitely a hot button for me πŸ™‚ )
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    • July 29, 2013 at 7:42 am
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      Lynette, I spent the week trying to think of a way she could asked me that wouldn’t have ticked me off. The thing is, I don’t have the health issues to justify that. If I’d had a problem, and I’D ASKED, then it would have been appropriate to say, well, losing some weight would help. Would you like to discuss safe weight loss.

      The thing that ticked me off, besides fact I wasn’t there to talk weight! She was NOT my doctor. I couldn’t get in to see her. And I’d just seen my doctor two months ago for yearly. She’d looked at all my various indicators and didn’t go there. We talked about the issues relevant to me, because she knew MY medical history. Women aren’t one size. It used to drive me crazy when I was younger and the doctors would judge my hormone levels by what was “normal” and I’d tell them, that’s not normal for ME.

      We live in our bodies and we know them better than anyone. I love that my personal doctor gets that. We laughed and talked about everything with no shaming at all. More wry and resigned. LOL

      I hope I didn’t come off as whining, because I was shocked at the experience and then I just felt bad for all of who aren’t “ideal” who have to go through that. Life is hard enough without it getting piled on by the people who should be helping us. And maybe they should wait to “help” with some things until they are asked. We are paying THEM.

      And no, won’t be going back to that particular doctor.

      I wasn’t going to write about it, but then I wondered how many other women go through this and I guess I wanted to say, we’re on in this together. πŸ™‚

      thank you so much!

      • July 29, 2013 at 9:38 pm
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        Pauline, you did not come off as whining AT ALL. You’re absolutely right that doctor should have treated your sinus infection and that’s all. I think my comment was a lot more about me, than you. πŸ˜› I hope I didn’t come across the wrong way. I told you, it’s a hot button. *sheepish grin* I think a LOT of women get shamed by doctors and others. It is NEVER okay to shame someone. There is way too much emphasis put on numbers — women are MORE than a number. _Health_ is more than a number. Doctors and society need to figure that out yesterday. (Okay. I’m ranting again. I’ll shut up now. . . . sorry.)

  • July 29, 2013 at 2:34 am
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    Great post, Pauline. You could have told her you were planning to take up smoking to lose a few pounds.
    My mother, bless her, thought that a dose of guilt would make me want to be thin. Dad too. Through my childhood, his nickname for me was Fat Albert. The thing is, I’ve seen the few photos from that time, and I was a strapping kid. As an adult, I thought I had no figure to preserve, and now I do struggle with my weight. My research as a writer of romance has taught me that women of any size and shape can dress to feel beautiful. Life has taught me that I don’t have to be thin to be happy, and having my own children has taught me to treat her comments as well-meaning, but misguided.
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    • July 29, 2013 at 7:30 am
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      The crazy thing is, to me, you develop most of your bone mass in high school. Being thin in high school was TERRIBLE for my bones, and why I have oesteopena now. (And it took some effort to get to that point!) But I can no longer get a bone density scan (until I’m 65). Really? Well guess what? Weight is one of the things that makes your bones develop mass.

      It’s so whacked up, so messed up. And it comes down to an inability, IMHO, to let people work out their own stuff. Change has to come from the inside, not the outside. IMHO.

      thank you so much!

  • July 29, 2013 at 1:42 am
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    Fabulous post, though it’s a damn shame you had to deal with that.

    I’m so sick and tired of turning myself inside-out for other people. I abandoned ‘ideal weight’ a long time ago. If someone judges me on that, then they’ve lost the opportunity to get to know someone who has had a lot of amazing experiences and helps people all the time.

    That’s okay, though. If they can’t get over something that superficial, I probably don’t want to know them, anyway.

    • July 29, 2013 at 7:24 am
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      That’s my feeling, too Eva. The thing is, I’m not that young anymore. I have better things to do with the time I have left than fret it–or finish my live eating grass. LOL Thank you so much! Here’s to being who and what we are!

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