Don’t You Address Me Unless It’s With Four Letters
Don’t You Address Me Unless It’s With Four Letters – Tens of thousands of people use these cards, and doctors’ offices, hospitals, nutritionists, therapists and personal trainers hand them out to empower patients who prefer not to be weighed unless medically necessary.
Due to the unexpected demand for these cards, we have had to make the decision to charge a fee to cover both printing and shipping costs. While our intention was to make these cards available for free to support everyone (and we did for two years), the current demand means that as an organization we need to ensure that we cover the cost of making these cards so that we can keep sending them out!
Don’t You Address Me Unless It’s With Four Letters
Because we live in a fat-phobic society, being weighed and talking about weight gives many people a sense of stress and shame. Many people feel anxious about seeing the doctor and will avoid going to the doctor to avoid the scale.
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We want to support you in requesting health care that is free of weight disorders. Getting weighed is an informed choice that we need to make with our doctor. We don’t automatically have to step on the scale just because someone asks us to.
Our “Don’t Weigh Me” card is a polite and respectful way to assert your preference with the doctor and seek informed consent if weight is deemed necessary for care and treatment. It’s OK not to automatically step on the scale when asked.
When I was recovering from an eating disorder, being weighed was a huge stressor for me. I set about investigating whether you really have to be weighed every time you go to the doctor. And I found that many times you don’t. Not being weighed unnecessarily helps me feel less stressed when I go to the doctor, which supports my recovery and ultimately my health.
I created the cards to provide something useful to the eating disorder recovery community and they took off. I put them on in November 2019 and now there are thousands of these cards all over the world.
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People tell me they appreciate the empowerment and support the cards give them in questioning the assumption that we need to be weighed before every doctor’s appointment. Given the huge demand for these cards, there is clearly a need for resources to help people speak up if they are uncomfortable being weighed – and there are a lot of us! What happens next is between each person and their doctor, but these cards are an effective means of helping people who feel overwhelmed to begin advocating for their needs politely yet forcefully.
I think we all deserve the dignity of having an impact on our own health care, and if something stresses us out, I don’t think we should fail to be obedient and compliant. We can speak up and at least find out what our options are.
These cards are a very polite way to open a conversation with healthcare providers about whether they really need our weight. And if they do, then we can make an informed choice about it. The difference is that being weighed before a deal can now be a conversation rather than an assumption.
I am not a doctor and even if I were, this is a personal discussion between a person and their doctor. The real purpose of the cards is to open up possibilities and start a conversation.
Don’t Judge Me
Personally, no, I don’t think most of us need to be weighed before every doctor’s visit, and this has been proven during COVID-19, where many health appointments took place virtually with no negative impact from lack of weight information.
While doctors of course sometimes need our weight, many times they don’t. And yet, in the US (this is not a global practice) we are still asked to step on the scale regardless of the purpose of our visit. If you’re seeing a doctor for carpal tunnel syndrome, a cold, or a sprain, being weighed is unlikely to improve care. And we know that the stress of stepping on the scale and anticipating an unhelpful lecture about weight keeps many people from going to the doctor. It’s just not healthy.
Although there are of course circumstances where it is crucial, weight is not central to many health conversations. But each person needs to talk about this with their doctor. It is a personal decision. I’m just opening up the conversation and the possibility that we don’t just have to put our heads down and be compliant when things feel bad in the doctor’s office.
We can ask questions and make informed choices. I believe that we should all feel that we have the right to use our voices when we visit a health care provider. And I trust that doctors can manage to have these conversations with their patients!
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If we lived in a different society, being weighed would mean nothing. It’s just a number like height or shoe size. But we live in a society that hates fat and blames people for their weight, which is something that we actually have very little control over.
Current estimates say that about 10% of people have or had an eating disorder, and as many as 80% of people actively struggle with eating disorders and poor body image. This can start as young as 5 years old.
Starting any health care visit with a scale is a trigger and a barrier to care for many people, and I often hear from people who say they haven’t gone to the doctor in years because they hate stepping on the scale.
Being weighed before every appointment is a relatively new development in healthcare, and yet we know that BMI is not an effective indicator of individual health except in selected cases. Many people living outside the US do not understand these cards because it is a non-issue in many other countries. Stepping on the scale before every appointment, for whatever reason, is not a global phenomenon.
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I see no evidence that getting people’s BMIs before every appointment has improved our health or lowered our overall weight, and I see plenty of evidence that it harms a significant portion of our population.
We have some deeper societal and health problems that these cards can’t solve, but at least they open up an important conversation about dignity in health care.
If we lived in a society that didn’t hate fat and blame people for gaining weight, it would be different. But since we do, most people who are overweight and/or gain weight feel ashamed and like it’s their fault. Our societal biases against weight turn something that could be benign – stepping on a scale – into a very stressful situation.
What we see is that many people have significant increases in heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol, sometimes for days and even weeks leading up to a doctor’s appointment. In fact, many people tell me they avoid making appointments based on their fear of stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office.
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It might be worth it if we had data showing that the stress of being weighed is worth it for the health benefits, but the opposite is true. Although we have evidence that weight stigma is harmful, we have no evidence that weighing patients before each visit improves health.
Stress is toxic to our body and mind. And yet we continue to perpetuate a known stressor in the very places that are supposed to be designed to make us healthy. It makes no sense to me.
There are plenty of people who don’t care about being weighed at the doctor’s. And that’s fine! They don’t need these cards. Go and get weighed – that’s cool with me!
These cards are for people who have or have had eating disorders and eating disorders, feel discriminated against because of weight, or simply do not agree with or are stressed by the practice of being weighed before every appointment.
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These cards are especially helpful if you take a body positive, Health at Every Size® or non-diet approach to your health.
The majority of the orders are in the US, but I have also sent lots of cards to the UK, Canada and Australia. These maps are worldwide at this time. I have sent them to places like South Africa, Botswana, New Delhi, Peru and Thailand.
Most of the orders are for individuals, but I also get a lot of orders from doctors’ offices, hospitals, registered dietitians, therapists, and other health care providers who offer them to their customers. I think it says a lot that doctors give these cards to their patients. Many doctors recognize the lack of evidence or the value of BMI in the assessment of individual health and are aware of the enormous barrier to care mandatory/assumptive weighing can be.
Yes. And I think that’s really interesting. All the charts say is that I would prefer not to be weighed unless medically necessary. And they say if it’s medically necessary, let’s discuss why so I can give my informed consent.
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To me it is not controversial at all and how can it be dangerous? All people have it