I am seventeen, I go to the gynecologist for a check-up. She weighs me. My BMI is in the “normal” range and I don’t have health issues. However, the doctor looks at me coldly and tells me that I have to lose weight. This triggers additional years of disordered eating.
There are several points to note here:
- First of all, the BMI is not an indicator of health and that is a widely accepted fact within the scientific community. Created in the 19th century by a Belgian mathematician and astronomer, Adolphe Quételet, the tool is racist and sexist, while inadequate to support any individualized health recommendation (see for example Strings 2020; Gordon 2023).
- In this case, the doctor ignored the patient’s BMI. Unfortunately, she did not do so for the right reasons. She looked at the patient and decided she was fat, advising her to lose weight, and therefore ignored the actual health of the patient. This example adequately highlights how often enough, for people who are not deemed “thin enough,” medical appointments don’t center health.
- It is also important to note that doctors often do not consider the possibility that their patients could have an ED, disordered eating or body dysmorphia. Weighing patients should not be automatic and should always happen with the explicit consent of patients.
- The person sharing her stories has been impacted by her doctor’s anti-fat bias. This bias, rather than her BMI, could have a real negative effect on her mid- to long-term health. Unfortunately, this is often not taken into account by medical professionals.