Without Measure (WOM) 365

July 5, 2009

Sound The Size Acceptance Alarm

Filed under: activism,health,ISAA,self esteem,size acceptance — directisaa @ 8:18 pm

Here in the United States, we just celebrated Independence Day, the 4th of July. And yet, we are in uncertain times – financially, politically and most of all, in terms of our civil liberties. There is a growing feeling in America that our liberties are expendable in the pursuit of solutions to problems like the economic crisis and providing health care just as they were (and are) concerning the war on terror.

But something’s changed. Whereas past administrations were content to keep the status quo on health care and just create bloated budgets to pay for pet projects for lobbyists, we now have a government that seizes businesses and appoints czars that are not elected and are only accountable to the government that created them.

What I have just written is not new. It has been voiced by others…independents, conservatives, libertarians and others.

So what does any of this have to do with size acceptance, you might ask?

What if our government decides to create a Weight Loss Czar? Oh, they’d probably make the title sound less overbearing, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Or if/when they create socialized medicine, what if people who are above a certain BMI aren’t allowed certain treatments unless they lose weight? If you think it can’t happen, ask someone who lives in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. They’ll set you straight on that, and quickly.

[07-31-09 Update: Please stop sending comments like “Life is so great under NHS here in the UK, what’s wrong with you Americans?” I have already stated this is not an “us vs. them” blog entry. I’m no longer accepting those comments, so don’t try.

Please read the entire entry! This is about alerting people of all sizes to what is going on and being planned for the UNITED STATES and making preparations for those matters in advance. If you’re happy with what you’re getting in the UK, that’s great!]

Right now, fat people are mostly not protected under U.S. law, and as a result, we know the discrimination that happens every day. As bad as that is, it could get infinitely worse in the very near future.

We need to wake up, and we need to re-claim our voice. We need to get laws passed that add “size (weight and height)” to the current protections. It will take a lot of effort and it won’t happen immediately, so we need to get started.

And if you don’t live in the U.S., don’t think you’re excluded. What happens in the U.S. tends to find its way to other parts of the world, sometimes very quickly…

Some people will accuse me of being alarmist. Some people will say I’m being judgmental of a new President, that I’m one of those bitter, conservative Republicans who won’t find anything right with President Obama.

To that, I answer: I’m not a Republican (or a Democrat), and I voted for President Obama.

But the change he has unleashed is not what I was led to believe it would be — and the same could well be true of health care. This has the potential to lead to many deaths through malpractice/incompetence and denial of service. If so, it would be based on fear and an inherent prejudice that exists in the current medical establishment, fear and discrimination taught in medical school. Where “Do No Harm” takes a back seat to “do whatever we can to get rid of fat and line our pockets at the same time.”

And in fairness, not all doctors feel like that. But doctors have to follow the rules, and the rules could change…radically. And that’s what concerns me, and I think it concerns many doctors as well.

So call me alarmist, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. We’re in uncertain times, and it’s time to get ready.

This whole blog entry is about a “call to arms” to be prepared. There are some warning signs in what President Obama has already said concerning “obesity” in his presidential campaign. And should some of those concerns translate into restrictive/harmful anti-obesity rules or even legislation in what appear to be the coming changes to the healthcare system, then we — the so-called Size Acceptance Movement — would do well to have preparations made and plans in place.

The best defense we have is to plan now — a good offense, if you will. If we wait till the changes have been made, we will have lost opportunity to do anything about it. Right now in the U.S., we continue to enjoy the freedom to organize, peacefully dissent and voice our concerns to our elected officials. We need to avail ourselves of these freedoms and work to change the anti-discrimination laws to include “size (weight and height).” That is one step. The other step is to communicate with our representative officials concerning existing discrimination problems in healthcare.

I have spent the last 12 years working and fighting, alongside many brave and wonderful people of all sizes and all political, religious and sexual persuasions. We have fought and continue to fight the common foes of ignorance and those who would profit from others’ ignorance or fear to act.

This is not some lame “I hate socialized medicine and all countries that practice it suck” blog entry. This is me, Allen Steadham, the Founder and Director of ISAA, and based upon my experience and what I see happening on multiple fronts, I see cause for concern.

I hope I have made things clear. I will write more in the weeks and months to come. Thanks.



  1. The monolithic rules against fat have already been made within the private, for-profit health insurance world. If you don’t believe me, try to get individual health insurance if you are fat. See if your workplace doesn’t try to create incentives towards health to make you thin. Any kind of screw-up that can be made in the health insurance field–bureaucracy, exclusion and non-coverage, overpricing, inefficiency–has already been made by private insurers.

    Comment by Linda — July 6, 2009 @ 1:18 am | Reply

  2. “Or if/when they create socialized medicine, what if people who are above a certain BMI aren’t allowed certain treatments unless they lose weight? If you think it can’t happen, ask someone who lives in the United Kingdom or Canada. They’ll set you straight on that, and quickly.”

    I just wanted to comment on socialized medicine in regards to Canada, being that I’m from Canada. I have never heard of anyone being denied treatment until they lose weight. Not that I’m saying a doctor has never said it to anyone but if someone has been told to lose weight before they get treatment I don’t think this has anything to do with having socialized medicine, but more of the doctors personal outlook.
    I’m not sure what you think happens in terms of socialized medicine, but it’s not like a doctor has to ask the government permission for you to get medical treatment. It’s really between you and your doctor, and of course it depends on the weight list.
    I have plenty of relatives that have a high BMI and they have received care on basis the specifics and urgency of their case, not upon their BMI- but perhaps it’s because they had good, knowledgeable and unbiased doctors. Anyone who had symptoms that needed testing and results fast got that attention.
    So I think the analysis that socialized medicine will result in the government being able to discriminate against fat people and deny them treatment is rather unjust if you’re basing it on Canada, especially considering doctors and private insurance companies find reasons to deny treatment to many people who pay premiums already.

    Comment by Melissa — July 6, 2009 @ 2:46 am | Reply

  3. When I said weight list I meant of course wait list!

    so no pun intended!

    Comment by Melissa — July 6, 2009 @ 2:57 am | Reply

  4. Linda, while I don’t disagree with you about some for-profit health insurers, the potential for a much wider scale problem exists with what could be coming. Thanks for your comment, though.

    Comment by directisaa — July 6, 2009 @ 3:10 am | Reply

  5. For the record, in Canada, I don’t know of any procedure in which people are routinely turned down because of BMI (I think this may be the case with some transplants, though, but that wouldn’t be exclusive to Canada.)
    In fact, our largest hospital network (UHN, in Toronto) houses the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, which sponsors anti-weight-loss initiatives around No-Diet Day and runs the ‘celebrating our natural sizes’ campaign.
    (This is not to say, however, that (a) I support socialized allopathy, or (b) this system is not permeated by misogyny and fatphobia.)

    Comment by Vidya — July 6, 2009 @ 3:48 am | Reply

  6. You do realise that the US is the ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WESTERN WORLD without some form of universal health care? I’ve lived in Australia all my life, been fat for most of it, and have never had socialised medicine discriminate. What about the 44 million people who don’t have health insurance? Do you not care about them? Seriously, if they get sick, they have to pay a lot. Most of them put off going to the doctors until they’re really sick. I guess you only care about fat people if they’re rich.

    Sorry, libertarians in the US are the most scary, selfish bunch of people ever.

    Comment by Cynicalfatty — July 6, 2009 @ 9:26 am | Reply

  7. Cynical: Just for the record, I’m not libertarian and I find it fascinating that some people are determined to try and make this a “my country vs. your country” debate. You are not your country of origin any more than I am of mine. However, that does not make a call for caution and preparation wrong.

    Being prepared is for if something DOES go wrong, a “Plan B,” an insurance policy, if you will.

    Why does this scare and offend people?

    Verrrry interesting. Let’s keep this on topic, friends.

    Comment by directisaa — July 6, 2009 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  8. Hello
    I’m in Canada and no one as ever beign denied care because of his weight tan I’m aware of.Yes,doctors express bias and try to take you where they want you.But the fear is (for now) less.In the last years,sadly,there is much more pressure to lose weight.But treatments are made regardless.

    Fifteen years ago,my father had a big heart operation.I don’t know the name of it in anglish,but they changed 4 veins or arteries to his heart,put a peacemaker and burnt a nerve who was causign arithmya.His specialist told us he received the cadillac of the peacemakers,since he was so active before he got so sick. Apparently a hockey player recieved the same a few weeks before him,and he was to go back playing in the lnh.

    Yes,my father was a big man.6 feets and a few inches,between 300 and 350 pounds. He was big,tall and strong,with giant hands. I’m not sure what the name of his profession is in anglish,but his job was to cut trees.And that’s a hard job. During the following year,troubles occured and he needed to go to the hospital in ambulance a few times. They never sent us 4 srtong mans to move him,never even a team of two. A few times they even sent us a very frail woman and his average teammate.And never at any moment do they needed help to get him out the house.They always did it quickly and easyly, talking with him.

    I know his doctor told him he needed to lose weight but it was never needed for a procedure. And his doctor insisted way more for him to be more active durign the recovey and to control the cholesterol who appeared at a moment. Fact is,when he started to get sick his cholesterol was fine,and that for a long time. I remember that once my father talked to him about wls,and the doctor was very clear that it would kill him like it killed many people. I was able to hear him from the waiting room!

    It makes me really sad to hear how things are going in the USA. I’m affraid it will become the same here, but I will fight avery step of the way. Already 3 doctors told me I was to be sick during my pregnancy.I gave them some links (Junkfood science and Well rounded Mama) and I was very clear about what I was thinking of that s—. I’m now followed by a midwife. For those curious, I’m 289 pounds, 5 foot 3. I’m able to walk, run, bend , climb stairs, sleep well, lift myself, stretch as much as my thin friends (and a lot of times way more…And I’m 6 months pregnant!) f—, get pregnant and push that baby out. I’m eating well, really much less than the father of my baby…Who is a foot more than me and a hundred pounds less. I have no cholesterol (the father do^^), no diabete, no high blood pressure. Before getting pregnant, I was working full time up or walking, lifting heavy things every way possible all the time. I’m not a freak. I’m just the way nature (and my parents) made me.

    Every time I will be able to show the truth to a doctor or a nurse, I will do it. A few weeks ago, someone I know was looking to find an ob to follow her during her pregnancy. A nurse asked her her weight (185 pounds). She told her she needed to lose weight, that she was gonna need a c-section or kill her baby. I helped her to made a complaint about that nurse and change of hospital. Things like that were not happening 10 years ago. I won’t give up the fight.

    Comment by Daria — July 6, 2009 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

  9. I agree with everything you said and that we need to start doing something to protect ourselves now.

    However, the day when “people who are above a certain BMI aren’t allowed certain treatments unless they lose weight” – IS ALREADY HERE.

    You cannot get on the kidney transplant wait list above a certain BMI. It happened to two seperate Chicago-NAAFA members. Neither was able to get on the wait-list and the reason given was current weight. Both were able to lose enough weight (temporarily) to get on the list and both did eventually get a kidney. Maybe this is only true for Illinois.

    I also know someone in Maryland who needs a hysterectomy for suspected uterine cancer. Her first surgeon said the surgery cannot be done on someone her size (bogus, since I’m her size and had a hysterctomy). She’s searching for another surgeon.

    We are already there (being denied medical care at all above a certain BMI). I would expect it to get far worse under a new-improved national plan given Obama’s obesity comments.

    We need to start writing to our congessmen and senators now.

    Comment by QuiltLuvr — July 6, 2009 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  10. My biggest fear of “Universal Healthcare” is the Fat Czar.

    Comment by Catgal — July 6, 2009 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  11. “I also know someone in Maryland who needs a hysterectomy for suspected uterine cancer. Her first surgeon said the surgery cannot be done on someone her size.”

    So that would be nothing to do with surgeons absolutely terrified of geting a bad rep or being sued for malpractice if there are complications on the table then?

    Director’s response: All throughout what I wrote is the recognition of the bias and ignorance that currently exists in the medical community. I don’t see how that negates the point of being prepared should things get even worse.

    I would really appreciate if people could see outside the “us vs. them” mentality, read the whole blog entry and give it some consideration, even if you don’t agree with it. Instead, a lot of what I’m seeing is people being offended over the socialized-medicine-being-questioned/scrutinized aspect.

    Comment by Emma — August 12, 2009 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

  12. Whatever healthcare system we have in this country, we are responsible for forcing change within it. Writing congressmen, etc. are all forms of action.

    I don’t see an “us-vs.-them” argument here. The author of the post presumptuously stated “just ask anyone in the U.K.” and so people who live in countries that have healthcare systems like the NHS chimed in. What did you expect?

    I would rather push for change in universal healthcare than in privatized healthcare. And if Barak Obama is saying stupid and uneducated things about fat people, then we need to write to HIM and to whoever else will listen. We need to organize against THAT.

    I already get screwed when it comes to healthcare, because I don’t come from a social class that allows me the luxury of picking and choosing diddley-squat when it comes to any kind of insurance coverage. I pay for dental coverage and that is all that I can afford. SO no, the few who can choose and pick and their needs is not more important than the needs of many. Fat or not fat.

    Right now the doctors have every right to deny me care- not because I’m fat, but because I don’t have any health insurance. I think universal healthcare will give me MORE of a voice than what I have now.

    Comment by Elaina — August 20, 2009 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

  13. I live in the UK, am fat and have not been denied health care. Ever. I have had some rude doctors and some judgemental doctors, but that happens in every country. What I did get though, was a free tonsilectomy when I was 12 years old and kept missing school from high fever and pain. With free follow up treatment. I got free, comprehensive sex education and have been using free Implanon contraceptive (the most effective sort). When I got a little too over-enthusiastic with a set of new weights and injured my back I received free physiotherapy and massage. I had to wait for it, a couple of weeks, but in the meantime I could get cheap painkillers and heat therapy, and I didn’t have to worry about budgetting for it.

    My nan has angina, asthma, arthritis in three joints and a liver condition that causes her body to produce cholesterol to life-threatening levels regardless of her food intake. She has had angina attacks, has had multiple surgeries to replace joints, repeat asthma inhaler prescriptions anda barrage of tests, treatments and medication for her liver. We never had to pay for the cost of an ambulance, or for the doctor to consult, or for the surgery, the hospital bed, the food in hospital, the after care, the nurses, the medication. She has never been turned away and, whilst there were waiting lists sometimes, treatment has never been denied.

    I compare that to my father in law who decided that he preferred private medical care despite living in the UK. The cost of medical care following his cancer, which eventually killed him after years of suffering and decline, have all but bankcrupted his grieving wife and may mean that she loses her house, and her daughter may no longer be able to attend the prestigious school she has worked so hard to obtain a place at.

    I would rather live under this system than have to feel fear about what might happen if I get sick one day.

    Comment by Bunny — August 20, 2009 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

  14. Great post.

    Comment by how to prevent arthritis — May 15, 2013 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

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