I was home for college a few years ago and went to an internist who I had never met before for treatment of UTI [urinary tract infection]. Having dealt with eating and body issues for several years, the thought of getting on the scale at an unfamiliar doctor’s office terrified me, but the pain of the UTI gave me little choice.
The doctor there, upon noting that I was on an anti-depressant, callously asked me, “Well, what are you depressed about?” I could only assume he had skipped the mental health course in med school or didn’t believe in such feel-good terms as “chemical imbalance.” Not having the convenient answer he was looking for, I quickly explained that I had been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was 13 years old.
He then prescribed me an antibiotic without performing any tests, and apparently decided it was a good time to have a really deep connection with me. He looked at my weight, which was all of 140 lbs and asked if I exercised. I didn’t have the energy at this point to get into the 6-mile daily runs, the obsessive tracking of calories burned, the self-hatred when I skipped a workout. I knew what was coming, I froze, and mumbled a quiet “yes.”
And then he said the line that still haunts me to this day: “Because you are pretty husky. I mean, you have a great figure, but you could lose some weight.”
Ashamed and confused (was “great figure” a medical term?”), I made my way as quickly as possible out of his office, dissolved into tears, and spent weeks trying to not base my self-worth on one man’s 2-second assessment of my body.
I still wonder what so-called health professional, upon seeing a teenage girl with admitted problems with depression, feels he is doing her a service by throwing around terms like “husky,” making judgments about her body, and being completely oblivious to the the body issues that nearly every woman in this country struggles with on a daily basis. From what I’m seeing on your site, its all too common an occurrence.