When I contact Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, a leading obesity expert at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the first things she does is to carefully correct my use of the term “obese person” by redirecting me to -the neutral term “obese person” (and demonstrating in the process that obese people are very capable of playing the culture of fat phobia). “When we call an overweight person, it doesn’t take into account that there is an actual disease process in the brain, controlled and regulated by the hypothalamus, that causes each of us to regulate our weight differently,” explains Dr. Stanford. people look at obese patients — whether mild, moderate, or severe — they suggest, “Oh, that̵
Stanford agrees that doctors are generally one of the “worst groups” in terms of maintaining fat phobia, but she is determined to set a different standard of care for her patients. She seeks to place obesity in its larger socio-cultural context, noting that racial minorities are more likely to be obese than that they are already at greater risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. “When obese patients come to me and ask me if they should get the vaccine, I give them an unequivocal yes, because the data show that the results of COVID-19 are significantly worse for obese patients. I want my patients to be protected, so I will give them any advice to make sure that they are best protected against this virulent disease that has affected our entire lives, ”says Stanford.
While medical bias is a risk factor for many – if not most – obese people, our own internal fat phobia and self-esteem can be just as psychologically harmful. At first I thought [my BMI qualifying me for the vaccine] it was ironic because I might not have qualified if I hadn’t gained the weight I had during the pandemic, “said Catherine, 24, who will soon receive her first dose of the vaccine in Brooklyn.” I’m already afraid of some of the things people can say or think about getting the vaccine, not only because I’m overweight, but also because I’m unemployed. It’s really hard not to feel fat and unemployed at the same time, it means I’m useless or lazy. “Catherine is happy to receive the BMI-based vaccine, but she is aware of the dissonance that the society of a deep diet with a culture in it also:” It’s weird that I’m supposed to be rewarded for failure. “