I have to admit something of which I am very ashamed. I don’t really want to, but I have to. This has to be something that I talk about; that I put out into the universe. Mostly because I want to take ownership of it and not try to blame it on the illness or pregnancy. Because there is no excuse. There is just this: the truth.
On Sunday I took Oliver to a one-stop-quick-care-medical-center called Velocity Care for several reasons, which are not the point of this story. After over an hour and a half of waiting (I don’t recommend going to Velocity Care first thing on the weekend) we were finally able to see the doctor. I was aware of experiencing a range of emotions at the time, but they do not – they cannot – explain the reaction I had when she walked into the room; I was immediately distrustful. I judged her, and her ability to help me make my son healthy, because of her weight. She was obese.
When I realized that part of my deeply emotional response to what was, in my perception, a deeply frustrating and fruitless interaction was the result of the fact that I had been so judgmental of this woman based on how she looked, I was overcome with embarrassment and guilt. I study this – the determinants of obesity at a population level – and am well aware of the fact it is not a personal choice. This is not – certainly not entirely – the failing of any given individual but indicative of many failings of society. I know that weight bias is a real phenomenon which can be witnessed most prominently in the popular media which portrays obese individuals in unflattering photos eating junk food or spilling over their seats. Rarely (rarely) do you see them standing in a suit behind the podium before in a packed conference room or being physically active. These biases, and the emotions that surely come with being subjected to them, must be experienced on a regular basis – a daily basis? – in so many unspoken ways. I thought I was above it all and I certainly didn’t think that I harbored those feelings.
But I was wrong. And I intend to take a long, hard look at how I could have been so unaware of this silent judgement I held. Experiencing it did not feel good, but at least now I know that it’s there.