Advocating for Yourself in Healthcare

As a fat person, you’ve very likely experienced fatphobia and weight stigma when visiting the doctor’s office. You deserve better, but since I can’t change the medical industry as a whole, I’m here to share some resources that can help you advocate for yourself to receive weight-neutral healthcare.

First, you should know about Fat Friendly Docs, which is a running list that people can contribute to with names of health care providers (a wide range of types of providers) who are fat friendly. It defines what it means by fat friendly here. It also includes advice on obtaining good health care here. I love that it includes the postcard-sized printouts that Ragen Chastain suggests handing to healthcare providers if you practice HAES (Health at Every Size®). I gave them to my current primary care provider at my first appointment and was very pleased when she was already familiar with HAES.

Second, check out these posts on Ragen’s Dances With Fat blog:

Third, check out Golda Poretsky’s video, “Ask Golda! Dealing With Body Shaming at the Doctor’s Office.”

Fourth, let’s help each other find the health care we deserve.

  • Check out and leave reviews on Ample or All Go or anywhere else you can leave reviews of health care professionals.
  • Ask for referrals from fat friends in your area.
  • If you don’t have any fat friends, long-time fat activist Marilyn Wann may be able to reach out to her followers on Facebook to see if they have any recommendations in your area, so consider contacting her via Facebook for her assistance.

Fifth, here’s more recommended reading on the topic:

Finally, it can be scary and overwhelming to advocate for yourself, and you’re not at all obligated to do so. You may try to advocate for yourself and find your provider is not at all receptive, yet you may still be stuck with seeing that provider, based on insurance, cost, location, availability, any number of factors. Good for you for advocating for yourself! That wasn’t easy, and you still did it.

If you are privileged enough that you can refuse to see a fatphobic provider, recognize your privilege. Consider using your privilege to educate the fatphobic provider so that perhaps it will effect change for other patients who are less privileged in the future. Document your experience in writing and provide links to research about the harmful effects of weight stigma in health care.

If you need a word of encouragement before trying to advocate for yourself at the doctor’s office (especially the very first time you’re trying this), feel free to email me beforehand so I can send you a pep talk! You can also join Fat Positive Cooperative on Facebook to support and encourage one another.

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