BUBLE

21.4.11

A weighty issue

I'm mad. Like properly boiling over with rage type mad. If you've been following me on twitter you'll know why, but if not then here's what's been going down: I ran out of my pill and since I've moved I haven't changed doctors. Being lazy I decided to go to the 'health centre' aka 'family planning clinic' as I was told I could just walk in, pick up my prescription and be on my way. That's not exactly what happened. After waiting for well over an hour to be seen I finally got called in by a middle-aged female Asian doctor (just to set the scene) who proceeded to weigh me and measure my height. I've been going to the doctor for my entire 28 years and can't remember a time when they've ever done this, but I just let her get on with it and thought no more about it. How wrong I was. She pulled out this little colour coded chart from her desk drawer, mapped my height against my weight, frowned, turned to me and told me my BMI was too high.

Now I've heard of this BMI thing (body mass index) but haven't paid much attention. Apparently it means if you're out of your little box n the chart then you can't get the pill. That's right - I was one point above the BMI I should've been for my height and I wasn't entitled to contraception I've been using on and off for the past ten years. Not only that, she then decided to tell me to 'work on my weight' and if it hadn't reduced within three months then they would have to 'evaluate me'. What does this even mean - are they going to send me to fat camp?! I literally sat there with my mouth open in a complete state of shock... A medical practitioner was telling me, a healthy 28 year old woman, that I needed to go on a diet.

Would you say I needed to go on a diet?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm no skinny minnie and I could probably do with losing a few pounds, but I'm a healthy and happy size 14. I'm not obese, I'm not sitting on my sofa all day eating Pringles (only when hungover anyway) and I'm not panting and puffing walking down the road. I'm extremely active, I walk at least two miles every day, I've been having two Power Plate lessons every week, I am constantly on the move and I don't eat loads of crap. Yes I have a healthy appetite, yes I probably have too much junk in my trunk, but do you know what: I'm the happiest and most confident I have ever been. Who are these people dishing out advice based on a chart developed by some idiot behind a desk reading from a textbook?

What really riled me though was the fact that I can take this and deal with it. I'm confident in myself and my body and I know to take it with a pinch of salt and find someone else to hook me up with some Yasmin, but what about those girls (and guys for that matter) that aren't? How many people have walked away from their doctors having been given the same advice and embarked on an unhealthy binge diet, or god forbid eating disorder, because someone they trust has told them to do it? Who are they to measure what's healthy and what's not? There are so many measures of health and weight is only one of them - I almost challenged her to a game of Wii Boxing just to prove I could kick her ass.

Am I a gigantor? Really?

What made it even worse was that she was probably at least two sizes bigger than me (and shorter - I wonder how high her BMI is!) yet she sat there preaching to me about the size of my thighs. My thighs are very well thank you, so kindly jog on. If I hadn't had to answer a bazzillion questions (some extremely inappropriate and irrelevant) and prove that I didn't smoke, take drugs or have a history of diabetes/deep vein thrombosis/strokes in my family I would currently be having unprotected sex and filling the world with mini LBQs. (OK, that's taking it a bit too far but you get my drift.) If this is the policy our country is currently adopting then it needs re-assessing immediately. You simply cannot be telling people they're overweight, need to go on a diet or need to be 'evaluated'. How many stories have you seen on the news about kids that are developing complexes because they were told by the NHS they were obese? This has to stop.

I've included some pictures of me in this post just to prove I'm not a heffer. I'm a normal woman with a normal body who doesn't have any hang-ups about the size that she is... So why does my doctor?
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35 comments

  1. I would actually report her how bloody rude and your beautiful.
    So bugger what she said defo see someone else xxx

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  2. You're lovely, and she should learn a few lessons on patient-doctor relations.
    xx

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  3. OMG I would report her arse all the way to the top.
    You don't look over weight at all. The doctor had NO right to say that to you, especially if you didn't go in regarding that or any health problem related to weight.

    Im fuming on your behalf now.

    Ms Red

    xx

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  4. OMG Hayls you're just right!! Ignore that stupid, rude, and hypocritical woman and just know that you are not a heffer!!

    Matt

    Xx

    http://alifeof-fashion.com

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  5. you know what? you are fantastic the way you are, and that doctor needs to get her credentials checked. Funnily enough, my brother went to the doctors last week for a general check up and was told he need to lose 30 kilos (4.7 stone) when he only has a slight belly! In any case my brother would maybe want to lose 10 kilos to become super-fit, but 30 was simply absurd, and anyone looking at him would have said the same. My point is, that BMI system is very innaccurate, it has labelled people like me, quite petite, as anorexic and it evaluates others as obese when they are perfectly fine!

    The situation you describe is simply mad, so wrong in so many ways.
    By the way, you are extremely beautiful, you have a stunning face ;)

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  6. Oh my god Hayley you're a blimp!

    Only joking of course, I've seen you in the flesh (whoa whoa not that way people!) and you are not at all in any need to lose weight.

    in fact on a previous trip to the docs when they do the medical for new patients I was told that I was borderline overweight! I'm like 5'8 and at that point weighed about just under 11 stone - i'm as skinny as a rake, it's bloody hilarious!

    NOW REPORT HER!

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  7. Your beautiful :) xx

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  8. Outragous! I hate going to the doctors as they often get me to diagnoise myself and then just shove a prescription under my nose!

    P.s. I think you look great :)

    xoxo

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  9. WHAT ON EARTH!! This is so inappropriate.
    Now, I'm all for the doctors telling an _actually_ overweight person they should change their lifestyle/eating habits - there are way too many people who eat crap every day and/or overfeed their children... but for godsake, your pictures prove you are certainly not one of them!

    All this talk about the media creating unhealthy body images, and now it turns out the NHS are no better...

    Btw, I weighed myself a few weeks ago and then checked my BMI online - it turned out I was one point 'overweight' too. I was totally distraught, I've been battling body issues for half of my life and just burst into tears. Then my boyfriend opened a different BMI calculator, typed in exactly the same information and the result was... two points lower than the previous one. So - healthy weight.
    Nice.

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  10. Anonymous21.4.11

    I had to get weighed and measured when I went to the doctor. I actually fell two points under a healthy BMI and was underweight. I had just gone through a break up and hadn't been eating and they didn't even pick up on it or ask me anything. In fact the nurse that did it complimented me. I'm better now but that really should have been spotted.

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  11. Just completely ignore that incompetent nurse! What matters is that your healthy and happy with your size, not what some BMI chart says or a pair of scales. Go LBQ! xo

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  12. Anonymous21.4.11

    how about writing a letter to the clinic director, if that's how the hierarchy works? the doctor was most probably working off a list of criteria she had to assess a new patient, which would have been more of a disservice to you as a patient than willy nilly prescribing you medication, when she had no history, hence the measuring and the "inappropriate" questions.

    admittedly the doctor should have been more appropriate with her wording and demeanor and should have been more tactful with her assessment.

    also i'd just like to add that using her race as a rant was slightly inappropriate on your behalf as well as criticising her weight, which is something you accused her of doing.

    yes you are a beautiful woman that is healthy and proud of her body which should be applauded, but your rant was slightly misplaced on such a public forum.

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  13. You look great in both pictures!

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  14. Going to the family planning centre fills me with dread every time, but my doctor is so useless that I'm at the mercy of these judgemental women with their charts.

    I think they are obliged now to weigh everyone and take blood pressure, just in case of any changes. However, a more understanding approach is needed instead of weight shaming!

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  15. I too have had this same treatment, though considering I was a size 10, it was even more shocking.
    I was 19 at the time, and 5'6'', I had gone to university and dropped a lot of weight because i was working myself to death/not eating properly, and was a size 8, I was 56kg, thats about 8 and 3/4 stone or something. When I went back in 3 months later, I had been eating healthier and not letting myself get too stressed, had gone back up to a size 10 and was told by the nurse that I needed to lose weight, I was only just a couple of pounds over 9 stone.
    I called my mum in tears that day because I was so conscious of it. Thankfully I had the sense to not let it develop into an eating disorder, but medical practitioners should NEVER be allowed to assess someone's health by BMI testing. It doesn't take into account your muscle mass vs. fat ration at all!
    There really needs to be a petition to the PM about it or something!
    But anyways, you look lovely in all your pictures, and as you say you are perfectly healthy.
    Bloggers should really club together on these sorts of issues I think!
    G xo

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  16. BMI is utter rubbish, comments like that are what turned me anorexic as a teenager. Trust me being 5ft 7 and weighing just over 7 stone is not a good look. I was a walking skeleton.
    Thankfully after a lot of help im a healthy, curvy size 14. All boobs and bum :)!
    it all started at school where at 10 years old and 5ft 3 i was told i was obese!
    utter rubbish, yes if you are overweight the subject should be broached with due care and you should be told to do something about it. But not someone who is young fit and healthy being told by some fat old bag that they need to lose weight.

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  17. That's rubbish! Apparently my bmi is 'life threatening' (Im fitter than nearly all of my friends....) and I'm still on the pill just have to watch out for complications.... I told the rude dr I was dieting and trying to lose weight and she just let me get on with it.... You look absolutely healthy and I envy your body! If only I had a figure like that!!! Hope things get sorted :)
    Belle
    xxxx

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  18. I know how you feel!
    I've been going to a 'family planning' clinic for the past 4 years and I've always dreaded going to my appointments because I've always been told that I'm too overweight. However, I have never been refused the pill, I was just put on a different pill because of my weight. I have recently moved to a different area and now go to my doctors to get a prescription for the pill because it is closer than the hospital. When I went to my doctors, I wasn't weighed or nagged at because I'm overweight - I was so shocked because of the way doctors had spoken to me before at the hospital. I do think there is a big problem with family planning clinics!

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  19. I don't put too much stock in the BMI scale because I never fit into it. It doesn't take into account your diet, genetics, body shape/type, or anything else. It's just stupid! I think you're the perfect size, you're healthy and happy that's what matters. I've had issues with doctors about this as well, All the best!

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  20. This is absolutely crazy! I've seen the exact chart you are talking about, and I was EXTREMELY surprised at the figures and what was considered "obese".. and you were denied your prescription?! That's insane. Just insane.
    xx
    obsessionstolivefor.blogspot.com

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  21. What that whole BMI thing doesn't take into account is muscle being heavier than fat, I imagine that you're only over according to them because you probably have more muscle due to the walking and exercise you do and that's just plain wrong to say you're overweight!

    I think they try and cover themselves because yasmin can cause blood clots so they have to be careful who they give it to if you're basically not super skinny but like you say that could be so damaging to a 16yr old girl coming to get the pill and being told that.

    I find with doctors your experience can vary so much, the nhs is just so varied in quality!!

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  22. Anonymous22.4.11

    I guess the doctor could've used more tact, having good bedside manners is so important especially when talking about a sensitive matter. However, I do think it's unfair that u used her race as one of the bad traits about her, cause that's just plain wrong esp. If she's just doing her job.

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  23. I know we tweeted back and forth about this last night but I wanted to get a proper response down here too.

    I get that the doctor had to weight and height you because you were a new patient before they could hand over pills. I even get that she got out the wholly inaccurate BMI chart to check against. What baffles and, in fact, incenses me is that fact that the doctor couldn't look at you and interpret the BMI results and conclude you were perfectly healthy. Last time I went to my FPC (which I always go to because it's close to work and the nurses are always brilliant) I also saw one of the doctors and she almost slapped me when I refused an STD test - even though I'd gone in for more pills and hadn't had unprotected sex since i'd last been tested. She actually tried to stare me out to make me change my mind.

    So my conclusion is that the doctors in these places are never as good, as competent even, as the nurses who are there all the time and know just how to speak to all their patients.

    I would make a complaint to the PCT if I were you - as you say, if you weren't body confident then imagine what could have happened in that situation...and we wonder why eating disorders are on the increase all the time

    Also like I said on Twitter last night

    you + not heifer + gorgeous = doctor with complex

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  24. Thanks for all your supportive comments and for sharing your stories here - It's shocking to see so many people have gone through a similar thing and the pure incompetence of the NHS and this ridiculous BMI system.

    To the two anonymous commenters that mentioned the fact I talked about her race... The reason I stated that was because the questions she asked and the manner she used was entirely inappropriate and judgemental, clearly linked to her own background. She asked me endless questions on my partner, how long we'd been together and many more I don't want to delve into here, but I'm certain it was linked to her own background and beliefs and not what she's trained to ask. I had a grilling!

    And to the person that said it was inappropriate to talk about this on such a public forum - it's my blog and I cando what the hell I want! If you don't like it, don't read it.

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  25. That is absolutely awful - although I have to say every single time I've got my pill in the last 6 years I've always had to get my blood pressure done and the first time I went on it (and the two other times that I moved from doctor to doctor), I was weighed too - so it's not that uncommon!

    Although in saying that, even if your BMI was above by a point - that isn't that bad at all - and she could of just explained that she wasn't allowed to give you it (they aren't allowed by law to give it out to someone which doesn't suit the really strict criteria!)

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  26. That`s so mean :/ I`m glad you are happy with your body and you should be, couse you are beutiful!

    xo,
    Ana

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  27. Hi Hayley,

    I really don't agree with you on that one. I'm Asian myself & I know A LOT of Asian people (including doctors & nurses) - and in my opinion your ethnic background has nothing to do with your job. That's like saying I do my job differently to my colleague because I'm Asian!

    I've been to a nurse (who wasn't Asian - she was White, British & born & bread in England) however she asked me similar questions too. All nurses work in different ways (that's why we all have favourites) - and ethnicity/their background has nothing to do with it.

    Maybe she just woke up on the wrong side of the bed!

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  28. I think it has more to do with personality and work method than culture. At the same clinic I had the most lovely, caring Asian doctor and the woman who gave me the most grief was a very judgemental white lady.
    I'm mixed race - white and Asian, so I don't think on these occasions either felt particular solidarity towards me.

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  29. I don't understand why she would not give you the pill because of your BMI... I am much "bigger" than you and I've been on the pill for almost 8 years.
    Of course, I've been asked to go on a diet because of my ashtma, but not for my pill!
    Taking the pill does increase chances of having a stroke and bloodclot if you are over 30 and smoke, no?
    I would sincerely go somewhere else and ignore this Doctor. A doctor that looks overweight themselves should not be giving advise on a diet.
    Imma be rude, but F* this doctor. =_=;;

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  30. Anonymous22.4.11

    "if you don't like it, don't read it" isn't really the issue here.

    but i'm not a hater, and i will continue to read your blog as i enjoy your posts and have been subscribed to your feed for over a year, but i'm not going to agree with everything you say.

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  31. Hi Kaushal - thanks for your comments. You're right, it more than likely had nothing to do with her ethnicity she was just incredibly rude and judgemental. I was just so not used to being looked down on like that and scrutinised... she made me feel like a dirty ho-bag for wanting the pill and basically asked me my entire sexual history, and her facial expressions at the time said it all - she dissapproved. I'm aware that when you go to doctors they have to ask certain things, but I've been going to get the pill for 10 yrs and have never, ever been spoken to in that way or made to feel so small. Safe to say I won't be going back!!

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  32. It's a real shame she made you feel bad. She was probably just trying to do her job, but obviously she got the wording very wrong. I've had some weird experiences with locum doctors myself - they can be downright rude, probably due to overwork or lack of training.

    I thought it was a shame you used the word "heffer" at the end of your post though - that implies that there is a level of obesity that is disgusting/something to feel ashamed of. I'm quite overweight myself and I'm working to change it, but even if I were 25 stone, words like "heffer" aren't helpful. We're still people, whatever size we are.

    Hope you've now got your pill sorted!

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  33. I think a doctor saying this to you is actually disgusting! Your a gorgeous woman, with a figure most ladies would kill for! Your the type of woman we should be looking at in magazines, not size 0's! I think this doctor needs to have her brain measured! She's quite clearly lost the plot!

    xxxx

    (PS completely off topic but the word verification is asking me to type penis...haha!)

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  34. Anonymous27.4.11

    Understand how you would've been upset, it sounds like she maybe wasn't as tactful as she should have been! But I do think it was right for her to raise the question for discussion - size 14 may not be super unhealthy but there could an underlying reason or some dietary issues. I imagine many patients she speaks to do actually want to lose some weight and might appreciate her frankness! And if you weren't on the best pill for your situation, it must be a good that she picked that up? I'm a size 14 myself and I do acknowledge that I'm not as healthy as I could be and so have been changing my habits (with the consequence of also losing some of the extra pounds) but I had to come to that decision on my own - I doubt I would've done so as the result of a ticking off!

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  35. This is rubbish. I've been consistently at least one or two points over my BMI for years - despite losing 2.5 stone at one point and I've ALWAYS been given the pill.

    BMI is a *guide*. That's it. Not all of us fit into the neat little boxes. Report her if you want, I'd at least pick them up on refusing you the contraception on those grounds. Picking you up on your BMI is standard - I get it at the docs all the time, but they've never refused to give me anything because of it. Off to a new docs you go! xx

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