Tomorrow morning I’m going to be speaking about weight-based discrimination in healthcare for a final project in Nursing Leadership. I’ll be joining 4 other radical nurse babes who want to raise awareness about ethical issues in healthcare delivery such as withholding information from patients, age-based discrimination, forced newborn genital cutting, mandatory vaccinations, and patient mismanagement.
Last night I was looking through my tumblr archive for an image to use on my slide for the presentation and I came across this photo. I remember how magical that day was for me and how empowering it was to feel so much love and pride for my body. I can see the joy in my face, and it’s not just because Sarah made me laugh, it’s because I felt no shame. I was truly comfortable in my own skin. And I want every single person who has ever felt shame for their body to experience the empowerment that comes with body positivity and self-acceptance.That’s why this issue is so important to me. One of the studies I read found that 24% of nurses were repulsed by fat patients, and 12% preferred not to touch them (Puhl & Brownell, 2001). That is simply not okay. Some of the patient outcomes of weight-based discrimination are anxiety seeking primary healthcare, and perceived messages of blame and shame. As Marilyn Wann says “you can’t hate people for their own good”, and this is especially important for healthcare providers to remember. We cannot empower people through shame.
You deserve to feel love and respect for your body no matter where you are in your physical, spiritual, and mental health journeys. Your body is not wrong. If you have mood disorders, personality disorders, or addiction, you are not broken. If society and healthcare providers are still struggling to treat you with kindness, dignity, and compassion, I hope you can find a way to give it yourself. I will be here, along with so many amazing body positive warriors, fighting for your right to self-love of the radical variety.