People who identify as women deserve access to positive, life affirming health care. Yet as we have all experienced, medical care can differ for women for many reasons, from unsafe childbirth to examinations and weight shaming. When facing these injustices or inadequacies in female health care the first step is to have a toolbox of resources. Knowing your rights helps build confidence when facing busy and unsympathetic doctors. Standing up for yourself takes practice. Do so with trusted friends, in the mirror, and in other situations. Know you are not alone — if we all demand better from the medical community the tide will eventually change.
Your pain is real
- Beginning with this knowledge can help stop doctors from gaslighting you. We know our bodies better than any doctor (no matter how many years of school). If something doesn’t feel right, then say so and keep saying it until the medical professionals hear you.
Combatting weight shaming and fatphobia
- If a doctor is regularly telling you to lose weight, ask them, “If I were skinny how would you solve this medical issue?” Sometimes their answer differs. Either way, asking that question directly challenges the assumption that all medical problems can be solved by losing weight. The same applies if your doctor is always telling you to gain weight.
- If your weight is always generally the same, ask the nurse if you can skip the weighing. For many medical visits they don’t actually need that weight information, it is simply a standard beginning to the appointment.
Your body is not an apology
- You matter. Your size does not mean you have less value in the world. You are valid, valued, and deserve the same kind of professional, sympathetic care as everyone else.
If you don’t like your doctor, it is OK and imperative to find a new one
- There are thousands of medical professionals. Finding the right one for you can be similar to finding the right employee. You can do research, find what doctors are covered by your insurance, ask them questions at appointments, investigate their patient reviews online, and talk to friends about their doctors.
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