CW: Anti-fat bias in medicine + potential anti-fat slurs.
COVID-19! Girl, you are the worst. No one invited you, you’ve way overstayed your welcome, so we’re kicking you out. One vaccine at a time.
We got our first vaccine doses at team B Word! To be honest, we had mixed feelings! Was the process going to be typical of being fat in a medical context – aka triggering and dehumanizing? PLUS we all saw Shrill – would it even work on fat people?? What would it feel like to qualify over others for our BMI?
SO we’re sharing our experience to give you a little confidence.
First of all, we were eligible through BMI. Now, we’ve all seen the ways the BMI is an absolute trash measurement of health and weight, right? Like, the guy who made it was like, “Wait, what? No, absolutely do NOT use that for medical wtf.” (Okay, that’s paraphrased.) But that doesn’t mean it’s not freaking triggering to type “How to calculate my BMI” into google and see the words “SUPER OB*SE” pop up. For most of us, the words that dictate the BMI chart rankings have been wielded like a club for most of our lives – either to threaten pain or administer it. Regardless of all the progress we have made, the widespread cultural belief that BMI is a direct indicator of health (especially amongst medical professionals, who we are trained to believe without question) is pervasive.
That means that disclosing to anyone that you qualify for the Covid-19 vaccine because you meet a BMI threshold is… well… a risk. At the very least, it often triggers disgust, disapproval, shock, and/or shame in loved ones and folks close to us. At worst, it can inspire flat out vitriol, unwelcome health opinions or advice, and violent words or actions directed toward our bodies and selves.
We were naturally pretty worried that we’d be peppered with questions about our eligibility (we’re in CA, where the BMI threshold is 40). BUT to our absolute delight very few people even asked! At the vaccination site we gave verbal confirmation we were eligible. That’s it! No prying questions, no specifics! It was so easy. We were met with compassion and kindness by volunteers and professionals, and encountered next to no hiccups in regard to BMI and the Covid-19 vaccine.
Plus, at the site itself there were quite a few lovely, fat folks in the waiting area – all newly vaccinated. It was actually so cathartic to see us getting quality care and not positioned as a breeding ground of illness, but rather a beacon of hope.
As for the effectiveness – there is no concrete evidence that the vaccine is less effective in fat people! Bada Bing!
Lastly, there was a certain sense of shame and guilt around getting the vaccine based on weight. We know a lot of us plus sized folk felt some shame over claiming the title, and a little guilt over being prioritized without other underlying conditions. So we opened it up to you all, and the consensus is in: FAT PEOPLE DESERVE GOOD HEALTH CARE, BUT WE OFTEN DO NOT RECEIVE IT. SO GET THAT VACCINE AND TRY NOT TO NEED THAT HEALTH CARE. AND DO IT LOOKING HOT.
You know what we think?
You’d look great in a Vaccine Chic outfit. Go get it if you can, friends. Stay safe. Do your part. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience for us, and hopefully for you too!