Dear Doctors, I Am More Complex Than My BMI

Taryn A.
doctor talking to an overweight woman

Dear Doctors,

I am more complex than my BMI.

Not every issue I have is related to my weight.

Consider the fact my weight may be a side effect or symptom, not a cause.

Please don’t offer weight loss advice unless I’ve asked for it.

And overweight or not, I am still a human being in need of your help.

I am overweight, and I am very clearly aware of this. During the very small amount of time you see me for, you cannot see what I am doing to try and reduce the impact this has on my body. You don’t see me calorie-counting and making myself miserable day after day, trying desperately to be thin enough for medical professionals to actually help me. You don’t see me trying to exercise, despite being in severe pain most of the time or almost keeling over from the dizziness I experience just standing up some days. You don’t see me crying myself to sleep some nights out of the frustration I feel for not being listened to by you.

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All because you see me only for my weight.

Although I’ve never experienced a medical appointment as a “normal” sized person, (I can only assume from the other countless fat people in my communities telling their stories) that you actually do listen to those patients and offer them treatment from the beginning rather than making them jump through hoops to get it like I have to.

Why don’t we get these opportunities to access help with our health?

Please just listen to me tell you what is wrong; I don’t expect you to have all the answers or to get things right the first time. I just want you to hear me and give me the same respect you do every other patient.

I know my weight will crop up in our conversations eventually, but if I tell you I’m trying my best, just believe me and move on. I know the risks. Believe me, I’ve seen them first hand and you don’t need to keep telling me. I know how to eat healthier, and 80% of the time I am doing. I know I have to exercise more, and I try to do as much as my body can cope with, despite knowing that this is only making me feel more ill over time. But most importantly, I know that my illnesses are not caused by my weight — so stop punishing me by refusing to treat the actual causes.

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