Stereotypes are being chased away in medicine—at least on paper. It’s no longer permissible to discriminate against women (and since women are likely taking over medicine, that’s a good thing!) The topic of race is verboten, as is religion. Cultural competency is everywhere in medicine, working to break down stereotypes of culture and language.
But there is one group that remains significantly marginalized, with no “awareness group” dedicated to easing tensions—the obese. Very overweight patients have a rough time in medicine, as they do in society at large. Despite the heightened PC-environment of medicine, doctors have a hard time suppressing unconscious bias. Obese patients are quite attuned to this and feel as though their doctors do not treat them with respect.
Why do doctors have such a hard time facing fatness? In my essay at “The Responsibility Project,” I try to dissect my own issues with obesity and how physicians deal with these uncomfortable feelings.
Danielle Ofri is a writer and practicing internist at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. She is the editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her newest book is Medicine in Translation: Journeys with my Patients.