Just found out I have “obesity”

June 25th, 2013  |  by Veralyn Williams |  Published in Blog, Personal Essays

Have you heard? Obesity (aka: having too much body fat) is now being classified as a disease, by the American Medical Association. Now, I’ve read the arguments for this decision: they want “policy makers and insurers to take this epidemic seriously”, and to get health care providers to “promote access to prevention, treatment and comprehensive coverage determinations.”  – Ok. Yes. Both those things happening, would be nice. However I must ask, when I’m filling out medical forms, do I write in “obese” as a condition I have? Because I just checked the CDC’s Adult BMI Calculator, and even though I’m 20 lbs down from my December 2012 weight– I am still 5 lbs into the “obese category” for adults of my height.

What does this new classification mean for someone like me? Someone who honestly… has been “fat” all her life. Even when I was at my smallest, a size 8 in 2007, in my head I was still fat. Why? Well, growing up I was constantly told I was fat. From family of course, but especially at school. Thank God there was no cyber-anything back in the day, because the face-to-face bullying I experienced was bad enough.

A particularly difficult time I can remember is when my 3rd grade class began reading,“Blubber” by Judy Blume. As you can imagine, I became the living-breathing illustration of Linda, the bullied 5th grader in the book, so my classmates followed her tormentor’s lead. Does this new “classification” means books like “Blubber” will be banned for insensitivity to an illness?

Despite not doing anything to myself, but grow– by the 8th grade I went from being “fat” (a negative) to “thick” (a positive) overnight. Literally. I distinctly remember wearing a semi-fitted jeans dress, with a zipper that went all the way up the front. When I left my house the zipper was up to my neck, but at school I brought it to the top of my cleavage. And all of a sudden- my curves were appreciated. However, I soon discovered my cleavage (while nice to look at), wasn’t what was “in.” It was all about “the booty” and I wasn’t quite fat enough in that region. Would a desire to want those extra lbs on my backside today, make me sort of a masochist now?

The truth of the matter: people who are overweight, know it. And most of the time, we know because society is NOT shy about telling us.

Like a yo-yo, my weight has always gone up and down. I have done countless diets, had many gym-memberships, and I’ve been warned by my parents that keeping my weight down is not just about appearance, but also about my health. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart murmurs… all things that run in my family. All things I indicate when filling out any medical paperwork before seeing a doctor. [Yes- I am one of those people that answer every question on medical forms, in great detail!]

Will this new classification mean doctors will be obligated to prescribe me a weight-loss pill after they see me? (Granted that’s if I have health insurance to see a doctor in the first place of course.) Will they be giving out coupons to the nearest Whole Foods? Or be able to get my $20/mo gym-membership covered by somebody?

I guess what I want to know: Is this purely a clerical thing, simply meant to get health care providers paid on this front? And how will doctors be expected to “treat” obese patients? Will this move get me a some affordable organic food options in my neighborhood? Will it jump-start a discussion around the emotional reasons people overeat? Or the economic reasons so many have no time in the day to “go for a run?”

What does having “obesity” mean?

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    “I am in my 30s and was emboldened by Beyonce’s feminist stance on that stage, and can’t help but believe that that image will be equally as powerful to young people who witness that moment, whose first engagement with feminism will be that moment. Maybe, just maybe, Beyonce will serve as the bridgebetween pop culture and feminists like bell and Barbara and Audre, maybe some young woman bobbing her head to ‘Blow’ or ‘Partition’ or ‘Flawless’ will do so while reading Ain’t I A Woman? or Homegirls or Sister Outsider.”

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