Your Body, Your Rules: Advocate for Yourself at the Doctor

by Sarah J. Thompson, BS, CBTP

Most people in larger bodies have experienced some type of weight-based discrimination while accessing health care. Unfortunately, our medical systems have yet to catch up to the fact that you can be healthy at any size. Which means many larger-bodied people receive a much lower standard of care than thinner-bodied people. You deserve better. You deserve respect. You deserve to be treated as a whole person. You deserve full access to ethical treatment. It is important to learn how to advocate for ourselves while we wait for the rest of the medical world to catch up to us.

Here are three things to remember for your next appointment:

You can refuse to be weighed.

  • Most people don’t know this. Most insurance companies require a certain number of measurable markers. When you refuse to be weighed, they can then choose a different marker to report. The only exception to this could be for medication and/or anesthesia. Even then you can tell them you do not want to know the number. Be sure to tell them to black it out on the patient paperwork that they give you.

Let your provider know that you’re not interested in diets or dietary recommendations.

  • It is beneficial to set a boundary with your provider. This can keep them from suggesting weight loss every time you go in whether it is for a sore throat or joint pain.

Ask how they would treat your condition if you were in a thin body.

  • It can be extremely valuable to make your provider think about how they would treat you differently if you were a thin person. It interrupts any implicit bias they have against larger patients, and it can give you a better chance at getting quality care.

If you don’t feel like you can say these things, consider taking a supportive family member or close friend who can support you. Share this article with them so that they can advocate for you. Always remember that you deserve fair and equitable access to health care!


Sarah J. Thompson, BS, CBTP
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