This surprises many people.
It may feel like a bold stance to take.
But it is your right.
Many medical professionals are unaware of the potentially harmful ripple effects that putting a focus on your weight can cause.
Studies have shown that patients have better experiences and more effective care when their doctors don't judge or shame them about their weight, whilst being body-shamed by your doctor can actually worsen your health.
The fact is, you are there to be helped and looked after.
When a person becomes aware of their weight (or BMI), it can precipitate a cascade of self criticism, guilt and shame, setting them back in their efforts to practice non-weight centered self care and trigger damaging behaviours (and yes, that includes food restriction).
It is the responsibility of those within the practice to ensure your experience does not trigger or cause any unnecessary harm.
By stating your needs (or the needs of your child) around the weighing process you are taking a potentially vulnerable but very important step towards true self-care.
Only you know how you feel in your body, how your clothes fit, how your joints move, your energy levels and your appetite - none of which can be measured by a scale.
The scale also cannot determine any aspect of your metabolic health markers, like blood pressure, blood fats or sugars. These are NOT automatically elevated in someone living in a bigger than 'average' body.
Now you might find you are met with a little push back, but this doesn’t make your request wrong! You don't need to justify or explain your emotions behind being weighed but do ask again if they are pushing you (there are some suggestions how to approach thus below).
Most health conditions can be addressed without knowing weight.
There may be times when it is medically necessary for you to be weighed:
- If you are being prescribed specialist medication and the dose to be administered is based on your body weight.
- Before surgery or in the tracking of life threatening conditions like kidney failure and congestive heart failure.
Most of the time, you are weighed because it is just part of the tick box process; the medical ritual that is simply not necessary.
What can you say to 'please step in the scale'?
In general, it helps if we approach this from a calm, confident place
- Oh, I don’t get weighed. Smile and leave it at that.
- Talking about my weight gives me anxiety - can we not discuss it please
- Weighing me every time I come in and talking about my weight like it's a problem is perpetuating weight stigma
- Can you please leave my weight out of our discussion and off of my patient notes?
- Can you give me a clear medical reason why you need to know my weight please?
Option 1: Decline to be weighed.
Option 2: Stand on the scale backwards and request your weight not be stated out loud and NOT put onto any take-home documents.
Option 3: Stand on the scale with your eyes closed and state you don't want to know your weight.
I also recommend taking an advocate to support you, or at least writing some of these tips down on a piece of paper to take with you so that you can refer to it if needed.
I hope this helps
Your website is so wonderful. This is a good reminder. I’m going to start declining to be weighed.
This blog is spot on. I am an Associate Professor in Children’s Nursing at UEA and work with your ex colleague Laura Ginesi. I’m writing a research proposal involving taking the spotlight off weight and exploring adults relationships with food and body and how this impacts their children. I also refused to be weighed at the GP as it adds to nothing but my weight compulsions and anxieties. Since rejecting diet mentality 4 years ago I am the healthiest I have been for years. Body and mind. Intuitive eating all the way.