08 March 2007

fear of fat

Has anyone else noticed the recurring 'fat people are bad' theme in the media? In light of the popularity of The Biggest Loser (which I admit I watch with such intensity and excitement I surprise myself) I guess it's no surprise that fear of fat has possessed Australians with such force that people need diet-centred reality television shows to get them off the couch. However, my interest in fatness and maternity has been sparked by the woe-is-me fertility obsessed Munnalita (she's a bit of a drama queen, her bio on TBL website calls her an 'emotional character' http://www.thebiggestloser.com.au/default.aspx?page=contestant&ID=15 ) from the Red Team who says will not be accepted for IVF treatment unless she loses a significant amount of weight. Munnalita is so set on having children, one of the first episodes of TBL shows Munnalita in her nursery at home that is all set and ready to go for a baby with an entire cupboard filled with baby clothing. It's hard not to feel for the poor woman but what really irks me is that now the media has taken a sort of perverse delight in publishing articles about how obsese or overweight people cannot have children easily (for example, in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42614-2005Feb21.html) . Undeniably, as in Munnalita's case and I'm sure for many other women, weight can play a significant role in one's ability to get pregnant (on both ends--weighing too much or too little). However, no one seems to talk about the horrific discrimination overweight women face when they do become pregnant, particularly in hospitals and from midwives even here in Victoria.

On Big Fat Blog (www.bigfatblog.com), a number of self-described overweight women recount their experiences of discrimination and harassment for being pregnant and overweight. This experience is particularly poignant for a number of contributors on the blog:

A pregnant woman says she has been told she cannot have her baby in a Victorian hospital because she is too fat. "[A hospital staffer] weighed and measured me, then sat down with her calculator and worked it out and just told me sorry you're 41," [the woman] Lisa said. She said she was told by the staff member she would have to lose 8kg if she wanted to have her baby delivered at Werribee Mercy hospital. "I've only got nine or 10 weeks left in my pregnancy, basically that's drop a kilo a week."

Or this:

The mainstream approach to childbirth really bothers me. You realize just how researchers can ignore the data about obesity when they do the same thing with childbirth. It's not a disease, but OBs are trained to look for the pathology so they do. I was supposedly a high risk pregnancy with my last because of my age (36 at the time) and maybe my weight (about 258 before conceiving) even though I had no problems in my first pregnancy and never had a problem in my second..

There are plenty of overweight women who give birth to healthy bubs--heck, look at all the plus-size maternity wear (http://www.plusmommaternity.com/) and lingerie that is available now. If there is enough of a mainstream market for plus-size maternity wear, there must be more than a few overweight women getting pregnant and having babies...and no one should be told they have to lose weight in order to deliver in a hospital.

1 comment:

Ashwee said...

great post!

I can't remember when we said we'd meet... can you give me another text with the derails?


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The Baby Bump Project by Meredith Nash is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.