Weight is an enormous trigger for many, many people. Because we live in an inherently fatphobic society that stigmatizes weight in every possible way, being weighed at the doctor's office can be an anxiety-inducing, traumatizing experience. Thanks to one organization dedicated to combating body hate in people of all ages, one simple gesture could improve that experience for many.
More-Love.org provides online resources that help empower parents to raise kids to be free from body hate, disordered eating, and eating disorders. They offer an abundance of education for parents about weight, food, mental health, and ways to reduce the stigma and shame often associated with weight.
And now they have one more amazing tool in their arsenal: "Don't Weigh Me" cards.
"Our 'Don’t Weigh Me' cards are a polite and respectful way to assert your preference at the doctor’s office and seek informed consent if weight is deemed necessary for care and treatment," their website states. "You can keep them in your wallet or pocket to remind yourself that it’s OK to not automatically step on the scale when asked."
Individuals and health care providers can purchase the cards in packs of five or 100 directly from the site.
Ginny Jones, the founder of More-Love, created the cards back in 2019. She tells TODAY that this is likely the third time these cards have gone viral on Twitter.
"I myself recovered from an almost lifelong eating disorder. And when I did, being weighed at the doctor's office was very stressful," Jones explains. "I knew that, especially among people with a history of eating disorders, being weighed is not a helpful way to begin every medical appointment."
They have cards at my doctor’s office now to tell them if you’d prefer not to be weighed 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/6jgbFfiAOO— Dani Donovan 👩🏻🎨 ADHD Comics (@danidonovan) December 15, 2021
Personally speaking, these cards absolutely resonate with me. Growing up, I was a "skinny" kid. I stayed within the bounds of a societally-acceptable weight range for the entirety of my childhood, adolescence, and a good portion of my adult years. That changed in my mid-twenties when I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. I experienced a variety of hormonal and physical complications, including weight gain.
The reason I'm sharing this is that throughout my entire life, whether I was a size four or, as I am currently, a size 18, I have endured disordered eating. From childhood on, I have never once had a "healthy" relationship with food. But when I was thin, no one cared or noticed. My doctors certainly didn't, that's for sure. But now that I'm approximately 200 pounds, my diet is now a topic my doctors bring up. I've also learned that even though my diet is pretty balanced and I'm getting all of the nutrients my body needs (despite my disordered eating patterns), they don't care because I'm fat.
When I step on the scale at the doctor's office, it ruins my entire day. Sometimes my entire week. My lab work has always come back in the normal range for everything under the sun, so I know recording my weight isn't a medically necessary component to my healthcare. The only time it didn't bother me was when I was pregnant.
Having a card like this on hand would be wonderful for my mental health. Knowing my weight doesn't have to be the central focus of my check-ups would probably motivate me to go to the doctor regularly, too. It's a win-win, in my book.
Does this mean no one should ever be weighed ever again? Of course not. But being weighed doesn't have to be a ritual at every medical appointment. For example, if I'm at the doctor's office for a cold or a sprained wrist, there probably isn't a medical need to hop on the scale.
"So many people are avoiding going to medical appointments or feeling incredible stress and anxiety leading into medical appointments,” Jones says. “I knew this personally, but seeing the demand for these cards really tells me that we have a major issue with weight stigma in our health care system and it’s negatively impacting people’s health.”
Some practitioners likely don't realize how impactful the scale can be to their patients' mental health, so handing over a card like this is a great way to not only have a teachable moment, but to spark up a meaningful dialogue about weight stigma and body hate.
Anything that helps patients advocate for themselves and feel comfortable at the doctor's office is, inarguably, a good thing.
You can buy your own "Don't Weigh Me" cards here.