It’s no secret we live in a culture that often places thinness on a pedestal. However, this has led many to hold deep-seated beliefs that fatness is inherently “bad.” People who are fat or overweight are thus more likely to be discriminated against – an issue “The Good Place” actress Jameela Jamil isn’t afraid to tackle head-on.
On Wednesday, Jamil took issue with a critical and fatphobic tweet, responding , “Fatphobia and the bullying that happens because of it, should be taken as seriously as racism and homophobia.”
Several followers criticized Jamil for comparing fatphobia to racism and homophobia. The actress was quick to respond in a tweet thread explaining her reasoning: It has been so interesting to see how many slim people have taken issue with me saying that abuse of fat people should be considered as serious as abuse over sexuality or race. The statistics on medical negligence, abuse and harassment, and discrimination for work are real. And — Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) April 18, 2019 So many of you keep commenting that “fatness is a choice.” 1) Untrue. Often size can be determined by metabolism, genetics, medication, health conditions, financial stability or mental health. 2) even if it IS a fucking choice, why is ok to abuse/harass people over their size? — Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) April 18, 2019 For many people with health conditions, maintaining a certain weight can be difficult (or near impossible). Some illnesses and medications can cause unintended weight fluctuations, while some conditions may cause symptoms that affect your ability to exercise or eat. After causing rapid weight gain/loss, some illnesses can make it really difficult to either lose or put back on that same weight.
As Jamil pointed out, weight is not always something we have control over. Still, regardless of whether a person’s weight is the result of underlying health issues or not, they deserve respect and compassion – never judgment or discrimination.
Though some followers clapped back to say that fatphobia is not as serious as other forms of discrimination, Jamil disagreed. There are people being bullied until they kill themselves. There are people being forced into poverty because they can’t get jobs. There are people dying or becoming infertile because their serious health conditions are dismissed as nothing but fat-ness. This is very serious. https://t.co/AOQjcQx1fl — Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) April 18, 2019 How you can hear that fat people are subjected to constant abuse/harassment/job discrimination and extreme medical negligence… and argue that it doesn’t qualify as pernicious enough to be compared to other serious forms of discrimination, shows your inherent anti-fatness. — Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) April 18, 2019 The fact that people can hear of all of the horrific ways fat people are treated, and just wave it off as less important, is inherent anti-fatness, born from society’s hyper normalization of ridiculing, dismissing and blaming people for their size and therefore circumstances. https://t.co/zRtuqs1JVG — Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) April 18, 2019 Many of you think it’s not a systemic and dangerous form of discrimination, and are unaware of the depth of harm done to fat people because of anti-fatness, because it isn’t widely reported, because we’re so hupernormalized to dehumanizing fat people, that we don’t write about it — Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) April 18, 2019 The actress brought up how dangerous fatphobia can be in regards to people seeking treatment for health concerns. Weight discrimination is unfortunately common in medical settings as well, with many patients having their complaints brushed off as simply being a result of their weight.
While being overweight can increase the risk of developing certain health problems, such as type 2 diabetes , high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease , a person’s weight isn’t always to blame for every symptom they experience. It’s important for doctors to thoroughly investigate a person’s symptoms and consider all options before immediately “blaming” a health problem on weight.
For Mighty contributor Jenn Heater, this discrimination prevented her from receiving proper care and pain management in the emergency room. Heater, who lives with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), trigeminal neuralgia and fibromyalgia , explained : The final blow came when a second nurse came in with two shots for pain and my discharge papers. My father left the room and she proceeded to give me the shots, then asked if I had any questions. I asked what they usually do for people with CRPS and she replied, ‘You just need to lose weight.’ Wait, what? My CRPS is caused by my weight? Um, nope. And even if it were, does that mean I don’t deserve treatment to ease my pain? I think she freaked out a little when I started to bawl. I told her about having Cushing’s (the obesity tumor) three times. Human growth deficiency, broken thyroid, a nonfunctioning pituitary gland and almost constant pain. She looked alarmed and quietly responded, ‘I guess you’re screwed.’ Jamil also shared her own experience with doctors dismissing her symptoms due to her weight.
“An example of medical discrimination against fat people is that I had major PCOS symptoms as a fat teenager, which were all ignored, and I couldn’t get TESTED even until I was thin,” Jamil wrote. “So my fertility is now further damaged because a doctor couldn’t see past my size.” An example of medical discrimination against fat people is that I had major PCOS symptoms as a fat teenager, which were all ignored, and I couldn’t get TESTED even until I was thin. So my fertility is now further damaged because a doctor couldn’t see past my size. — Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) April 18, 2019 PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a common health problem among those born female that’s caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. This creates problems in the ovaries and can lead to cysts (small fluid-filled sacs) or infertility . Other common symptoms of PCOS include an irregular menstrual cycle, excessive hair growth on the face or chin (hirsutism), acne, thinning hair and weight gain. PCOS can also make it very difficult to lose weight.
This is not the first time Jamil has spoken out about her health issues. In Feb. 2019, she confirmed she has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome , a rare genetic connective tissue disorder that can cause symptoms such as joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility and tissue fragility.
In response to Jamil’s thread, many people commented to share their own stories of discrimination, demonstrating how pervasive and harmful fatphobia can be. It took me having a severe gallbladder attack for a doctor to finally do something. Everytime I mentioned symptoms, I was told to eat healthy and try to get some weight off. I ended up staying in hospital over a week and having my gallbladder removed. I was sick & in pain for 3 years during which I sought medical care repeatedly. Every dr I saw told me it was weight related. I finally ended up in the ER – which resulted (finally) in a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. Btw, still fat. STILL ALIVE. (NED for 2.5 yrs) — ChRESISTina (@kitschmama) April 18, 2019 I recently had a burst cyst and to help the pain the doctor suggested I lose weight I have fibromyalgia and the amount of Drs I’ve met over the years that tell me my symptoms are all due to my weight is insane and then they put me on meds that make me put on more weight. Just can’t win! — Lou (@willowfire365) April 18, 2019 Jamil thanked everyone for sharing their experiences. “Nobody reports your struggle because fatphobia is the most accepted and hypernormalized form of bullying,” she wrote. “I’m so sorry and I stand with you all.” Thank you all of you who are bravely telling your stories in my threads today of how your lives have been destroyed by anti-fatness. Nobody reports your struggle because fatphobia is the most accepted and hypernormalized form of bullying. I’m so sorry and I stand with you all. ❤️ — Jameela Jamil ???? (@jameelajamil) April 18, 2019 If you have experienced judgment, discrimination or a lack of proper medical treatment because of your weight, know you are not alone. You deserve to be respected and have your health concerns taken seriously no matter what. As Mighty contributor Ann-Marie D’Arcy-Sharpe wrote : There will always be people who make judgments, but I am proud of myself as a person. I know I am beautiful inside and out. I know what I face and what I overcome every day, I know that I am doing my best at all times and I hope that every other person out there who is going through struggles is proud of themselves. Whatever your shape or size, we are all worthy, we are all beautiful in our own way, and we all deserve to be judgment-free! To read more about weight and chronic illness , check out the following stories from our community:
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