"As a plus size person, I have faced multiple forms of prejudice and discrimination because of my weight. The prevalence of weight discrimination has increased over the years, and has parallels with discrimination based on race, religion and sexuality.
For me personally the weight bias has translated into inequities in employment settings, health-care facilities, and educational institutions, often due to widespread stereotypes that overweight and obese people are lazy, unmotivated and lacking in self-discipline. This stigmatisation remains, rarely challenged in Western society, leaving the plus size person potentially vulnerable to social injustice, unfair treatment and impaired quality of life.
Emotionally, obesity can be devastating, and can lead to the development of a variety of mental and physical conditions. Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and eating disorders can be common. While not immediately life threatening, respiratory problems, hormonal imbalances, blood pressure and type II diabetes are also seen. Each of these alone may not be fatal, but combined over time these general health concerns could become a major problem.
Plus size people have the same right to dignified and respectful healthcare as everyone else, so why is it still a challenge to access appropriate service and equipment provision whether that be visiting the GP, the Dentist or an acute admission to a hospital?
There is a need for an informed relationship between us and our health and social care partners. The partnership needs to consider the environment, the equipment, medical requirements to name but a few.
So does your organisation have suitable gowns, blood pressure cuffs, waiting room seating, trolleys, bed, mattress, hoist, sling etc.? How are you going to evacuate us in a fire or transfer us when we die?
When required, handling of plus size people is not as complex as perceived, it just requires foresight. Systematically planning the patient’s journey back to health is key to achieving the best result. The process of being moved can be undignified, uncomfortable and disabling but the right tools and training can minimise these.
Independence is the key to our lives. Do not disable us because we are bigger - encourage and embrace what we can do and enhance where we need help. If we need assistance with our care, it is important that carers are not put at risk, that they use equipment, aids, and techniques that are fit for purpose and that they are familiar with."