Not surprising that this article “grinned by gears”. Its disturbing that the conclusion I sensed after reading this story was the continued emphasis and assumption that someone’e weight dictates their worth. According to the author’s comments in the news brief, if you’re a fat healthcare worker (or in our stance, dietitian) our advice has no value due to our waistline.
“It emphasizes, for example, why the obesity epidemic is so hard to fix,” Mukamal said. “Even people who know better don’t do better.”
Taking this example to the next extreme with clients suffering from anorexia, would they be better served by a skinny or fat dietitian? The skinny dietitian might perpetuate a thin ideal thereby reinforcing the anorexic voice and therefore cause more harm to the patient.
Does this sounds ridiculous? Yes, because it is. The qualifications of a health professionals area of practice is not a matter of their waistline. Its the same critism we’ve heard about parents with fat children. Are they good parents? Would a thinner parent be better for this child? Should the child be removed from their home? To be this sounds absolutely ABSURD. Why? Because there are various, inter-locking factors that impact health and also parenting.
As a person of small stature, Ive been criticized when providing ‘body acceptance’ messages to fat individual because I can’t understand or couldn’t possibly empathize because ive never been fat. While I’ve never physically felt the struggles of being overweight or obese, as a human being I’ve felt shame, fear, rejection and bullying because of my ‘skinniness’.
In the words of one my favorite Social Workers, Brene Brown:
We are never more dangerous than when we are backed into a corner of never (good/ rich/ thin /successful/ admired/ certain/ extraordinary/ safe/ in control/ powerful/ etc.) enough. If we want to reclaim courage and compassion in our families, schools, organizations, and communities, we must open our hearts and minds to a new way of thinking about vulnerability and imperfection.
The human race needs a serious compassion/vulnerability check.