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Tag: Fat Shaming

I’m Tired of Judgmental Doctors

fat shaming

Medical doctors are very much a part of my life. I see my primary care doctor four times a year, a dermatologist twice a year, a cardiologist once a year, and other specialists, as needed. Today, I saw an orthopedic doctor for pain in my left hip and a carpel tunnel-like problem in my left hand; a problem I had surgically fixed in 2010. While I was lying on the cold table for an X-ray of my hip, the festering cyst on my upper back — which I had removed a few months ago, but has returned — burst, leaving a wet, bloody, puss stain on my tee shirt. “Wonderful, right?” I have an appointment with a dermatologist tomorrow to figure out what, exactly, to do about the cyst. (I have an ongoing problem with cysts here and there on my body. I have spent thousands of dollars getting them drained and incised. More often than not, the cysts make repeat appearances.)

The orthopedic doctor walked into the room, and after we exchanged pleasantries, I told him why I was there today. The doctor, whom I have seen before, had no recollection of my medical history, including the fact that I have widespread osteoarthritis, and was diagnosed two years ago with:

  • Disc herniation (T7,T8)
  • Disc herniation (T6,T7)
  • Central spinal canal stenosis (T9/T10, T10/T11)
  • Foraminal stenosis (T5,T6)
  • Disc degeneration/spondylosis (T1/T2 through T10/T11)
  • Facet Arthropathy throughout the spine, particularly at T2/T3, T3/T4, T5/T6, and T7/T8 through the T12/L1 levels.
  • Hypertrophic arthropathy at T9/T10

The orthopedic doctor was unsure what the problem was with my hand. Scar tissue from my previous surgery? A new problem? He ordered a new EMG — a nerve conduction test. As far as my hip was concerned, he decided my pain was caused by the aforementioned back problems. Solution? Live with it.

And then came the lecture . . . “have you thought about losing weight?” I told him I had lost one hundred pounds over the past three years . He asked, “How?” I replied, “Gastroparesis.” I added, “Nausea, lack of appetite, and vomiting, will do that to you.” I quickly determined that he knew little to nothing about gastroparesis. This, of course, is not surprising since bones and joints are his specialty. His cluelessness didn’t stop him from suggesting I see a different gastroenterologist to get a “second opinion.” Second opinion, for what?

Gastroparesis is an incurable stomach disease. The treatments are limited: medication to manage symptoms, feeding tubes, and experimental procedures. I hate when doctors think they always need to be the expert in the room. I have no doubt that I know a hell of a lot more about gastroparesis than my orthopedic doctor did. I have read the relevant literature, and know gastroparesis is a miserable disease; that no miracle is forthcoming. I take medication, vomit, forego eating, and I had an experimental procedure done under anesthesia last year (to no effect).

Ignoring everything I said, my orthopedic doctor suggested I contact the practice’s weight loss clinic for a consult. He said, “You know, if you lose more weight, it will lessen the pain in your back.” By this point, I wanted to scream. “Are you not listening to me? “Or do all you see is the fat guy?”

Had my orthopedic doctor asked, he would have learned that I started having back problems at age twenty. I was first diagnosed with narrow disc space in my lower back when I weighed 225 pounds and still played competitive sports. My spine is literally falling apart. Losing weight won’t fix structural problems. I have had back problems at various weight points throughout my life. Lose, gain, it matters not, the pain remains. I am a living study that shows that the idea that losing weight will fix whatever ails you is untrue. As I mentioned, I have lost one hundred pounds. The only thing losing twenty-five percent of my body mass did was improve my glucose levels and provide me a new wardrobe. That’s it. My debility and pain remain the same. But, hey, I love my new Charles Tyrwhitt shirts.

I am comfortable in my own skin. Lecturing me about my weight is not helpful, nor will losing weight magically cure my fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, or gastroparesis. While there certainly could be benefits from losing more weight, I doubt dropping another twenty-five to forty pounds will lessen my pain.

What I most wanted my doctor to do today is see “me;” to listen to me; to consider the totality of my health. Since that was beyond his “expertise,” he is no longer my doctor. In fact, I am done with doctoring. When I leave their offices worse off than when I came in, I wonder “why bother?”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Face it Ladies, if Your Husband is Overweight He is Not Attractive

homer simpson

In a recent post titled, Help! My Husband Has a Big Belly, Evangelical sex guru Sheila Wray Gregoire said the following:

Basically, too much fat is difficult when it comes to sex, and not just because things don’t work together as well. When men have bigger bellies, their testosterone levels also fall, which leads to a lower sex drive. And no matter what I can tell you about being attracted to the whole person rather than just his physical appearance, let’s get real. It’s just difficult to be attracted to your husband when he’s really overweight. It doesn’t mean you can’t have sex by focusing on the pleasure that he can give you (and he can give you pleasure!) and focusing on how much you love him, but that spark can definitely be gone.

I’ll leave to you the reader to set Ms. Gregoire straight.


New Creation Church, Hillsboro, Oregon: No Fatties Allowed on Worship Team


New Creation Church in Hillsboro, Oregon thinks maintaining a certain image and look is vitally important. To further this end, church leadership established certain qualifications for worship team participants:

Dress Code
Our main goal is to look professional and our dress should always be modest, as we are not only representing Christ, but Pastor and New Creation Church.

  • Clothing must be clean, sharp and ironed. No clashing colors.
  • Appropriate shoes must be worn at all times. i.e. No sneakers, tennis shoes, flip flops or shoes with white soles.
  • We want the worship team to look the best they can! Remember that the way we look is of utmost importance. We are the first thing the congregation sees. People do judge by appearance. We never get a second chance to make that first impression. Please be sure that your style and clothing bring honor and glory to God, isn’t excessive and doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
  • Dress is to be smart casual. This means nice pants or dressy jeans with blouses or sweaters, and/or jackets for women and nice collared dress shirts for men. Tennis Shoes, sneakers, flip flops, and shoes with white soles are not allowed.

Grooming and Hygiene

  • Hair must be washed, nicely groomed and kept neat and clean; no sloppy hairdos or excessively wild styles that draw undue attention.
  • No excessive piercings, or visible tattoos.
  • Ladies, put your make-up on before you get to church. If wearing a skirt, nylons are suggested. No tight shirts, low cut shirts or tummy’s showing. All skirts must be below the knee.
  • No excessive colognes or perfumes.
  • Bodies must be clean and use of effective deodorant is essential to positive interpersonal relationships.
  • Remember also that breath mints are available in the bookstore. Please use them! No gum during services.
  • No Excessive weight. Weight is something that many people have to deal with. Make sure that you are taking care of your temple, exercising and eating properly. [emphasis mine]
  • Remember that as a music minister people look up to you. Your life must exemplify one of excellence in all areas; spirit, soul and body.

Please read this carefully and examine yourself regularly as to your commitment in this area of  service. If you do not meet the standards set forth in these guidelines, you will disqualify yourself as a part of the Worship Team.

After this document was exposed and publicized, the church quickly removed it from their website. You can still read it here. New Creation is pastored by Rod & Rebecca Sundholm.

The Oregonian picked up this story and called the church for a response. Here’s what The Oregonian had to say:

New Creation Church Pastor Rebecca Sundholm says that the guidelines had been on the website for a long time and she said she was “dumbfounded” by the controversy.

“What’s funny is this has nothing to do with anybody else but our church,” said Sundholm over the phone Thursday. “If anybody looked at our worship team, they would see they aren’t all skinny.”

“In fact,” she added, “the worship leader has weight issues.”

Sundholm said the worship leader wrote the guidelines years ago — the church is 28 years old —  and that, “those guidelines aren’t even enforced anymore.”

Still, she said, “We have standards just like anybody would have standards in a business.”

“Don’t come to church with wet hair; if you wear make-up, put it on,” she said. “It’s not negative.


But Sundholm thinks that these commenters don’t really understand her church, since she assumes none of them have actually attended services.

“It’s ridiculous really,” she said. “It’s just so taken out of context.”

Fat-shaming is a common problem in certain corners of the Evangelical world. The larger churches become, the more they concern themselves with their image. Wanting to attract a successful, moneyed clientele, these Evangelical religious corporations go to great lengths to advertise that their businesses are where the hip and cool people hang out. Fat people who dare to attend such churches are often reminded that being overweight is a sin, a sign that you are given over to appetite and gluttony.

Let me say in closing, not all Evangelical churches have a problem with fat people. Fat-shaming tends to be a larger/mega-church problem. Small churches, already cannibalized by spiffy, entertainment oriented megachurches, are often filled with untouchables, including those who are look like contestant hopefuls for The Biggest Loser. Baptists tend to be quite okay with obesity. Gluttony is the only sin Baptists are allowed to commit.

Too bad I don’t live closer to New Creation. I might be inclined to put on biker shorts, black socks, and dress shoes — sans shirt — and picket the church’s Sunday services. Picture THAT for a moment, readers!

Bruce Gerencser