Thoughts on Health and Healthcare
This blog has been a little neglected lately.
Recently, my writing time has been devoted to two projects. First, is a novella that adapts my experiences of disordered eating as a young adult into a compelling narrative for a YA audience. Secondly, I have spent many hours researching and writing a piece focused on BMI and the idea of weight-neutral healthcare.
However, I found myself questioning what more I can add to that conversation. There is an abundance of informative writing available on the problems associated with the BMI. While I may still share my piece eventually, for now, I recommend checking out the following awesome pieces:
Also, Dr. Asher Laramie, “The Fat Doctor” has done an amazing job compiling research on their website: https://www.noweigh.org/
Last year, my blog posts explored the complex and nuanced idea of health and the process of creating a health toolkit. Since then, I have learned so much from experts in the fat-positive community. While taking breaks from editing my novella, I plan to share some new thoughts and research about health and healthcare.
This writing will be less polished and more raw. While my goal for my writing is still to be authentic, informative, and encouraging- some of what I discuss may feel uncomfortable. I encourage everyone to read with an open heart and mind.
Since the topic of health is messy, it makes sense that our healthcare system is a mess! As a healthcare professional, and someone who is working to reject diet culture and fatphobia, I find myself in an interesting position.
My work world sees “obesity” as a problem to be solved. My own learning and research have shown me that fat is not bad.
Being in the middle of these two perspectives is challenging, but I can see the potential for reconciliation. My hope is that healthcare can evolve toward a weight-neutral model. I believe the idea of health can be a positive aspiration to help individuals engage in and enjoy their lives.
Yet, for many people “health” is a concept that has only been used to bully and demean.
Da’Shaun Harrison, the author of the Belly of the Beast, describes health as “violence” because of the oppression this idea has caused. My heart hurts that something with the potential of being so helpful has caused real harm.
In The Belly of the Beast, Harrison explains that historically the idea of health was invented to oppress black people. Early doctors believed that white people were inherently superior and built the concept of health to support that belief. Black bodies were purposely excluded from the definition of health and never had a chance to be considered “healthy.”
This racist foundation contributed to health experts declaring a war on obesity. The only body which is seen as “healthy” is thin, muscular, beautiful, and white. Larger bodies and black bodies are automatically deemed “unhealthy,” bad, and even dangerous.
I believe most healthcare workers are good people drawn to healthcare due to a desire to help people. They may be exhausted and overworked, but deep down, I believe they want what is best for people. The reason healthcare is broken is not because of the people, but rather because of the foundation of the system.
The healthcare system needs a foundational overhaul. I would love to see a healthcare system built on the idea of truly helping people live their best lives- as described by that person. Not based on guilt or shame to all look like the same ideal but actually, embracing each person as a unique human with a unique body and unique needs.
In order to make this shift, we must stop using weight to determine health. Healthcare needs to shift from a weight-centric model to a weight-neutral model.
Weight-neutral healthcare stops focusing on weight and instead focuses on how a person feels in their body. This kind of healthcare recognizes that all bodies are good bodies. Maybe then health could be possible for all bodies.
My hope is for healthcare to be a positive force in our world.
While I don’t know exactly how to do that, I do have more thoughts to share in the future.
Thanks for reading.