Pap smears, fat-shaming, and the lithotomy trap

[X-posted at Hoyden About Town]

So I’m sitting watching the evening news, and on comes a chap telling us women and girls that we oughtta go and get more Pap smears. Then on comes a woman to talk about how Pap screening rates are going down in young women, and to speculate about possible causes for this. The cervical cancer vaccine comes up, as does the “awkwardness” of the test, and our inappropriate embarrassment, which we apparently need to get over.

What I don’t hear addressed in the mainstream media in these discussions of Pap screening? Well, lots of things, like heterosexism, and ignorance about Pap age/sexual experience guidelines, and sexual assault (inside and outside the medical system). However, the one that really stood out in my mind today is also a factor that isn’t going to be fixed by lecturing women. Fatphobic abuse in the medical system.

There has been a fair bit of talk around the feminist traps about some of the other factors, especially the aftermath of sexual assault and its effects on medical interactions. I’m not going to go into that in this post, but it’s a huge, huge issue. What I would like to talk about for a moment, not because it’s more important but just because I have a first-person anecdote, is medical fatphobia.

We know fatphobia kills. In all sorts of ways, in all sorts of settings. And one way in which it can kill is the horrendous tendency of doctors – quite a few doctors, from the stories I hear around the place – to trap women and girls on their backs so that they can shame them while they’re vulnerable. And what they don’t realise, or don’t care about, is just how long-lasting the effects of this can be – and not in a good way.

Medical education materials abound with motherhood statements about ‘Preventive Medicine’ and ‘Lifestyle Intervention’ and ‘Opportunistic Behavioural Education’. General practitioners are exhorted, over and over again, to take any and all opportunities they can to tell people they’re fat. Really, over and over. And OVER. And doctors, labouring under the mistaken impression that this will cause said people to magically become skinny and therefore ‘healthy’, go ahead and do it, then smugly boast about it between themselves, sighing about how no-one ever listens to them. Or, perhaps, under the impression that they can then self-satisfiedly sit back and tick a box on the chart about how they’ve engaged in initial Lifestyle Education, which they learned all about at the last Lap-Band seminar.

Medical education is a powerful, powerful matrix of fat hate, based on the twin premises that telling people they’re fat is (a) helpful and (b) harmless.

So let’s talk about how that plays out in practice:

When I was 19, I had a Pap smear. It was my first. I went to the nearest available doctor, who worked in a setting where they dealt with a late of people in late adolescence and early adulthood. I wasn’t particularly concerned about it; a very little vague unease at the unknown, but no particular trepidation. I didn’t bother taking anyone with me, and I just booked the appointment in between other things I had to do, like med school classes and whatnot. And off I went.

I got my Pill script, had my BP taken, then assumed the position. And the doctor came up into his position, as they do, then stopped.

He looked at my thigh. “Not quite the right spot,” I thought, “but hey, he probably knows what I’m doing more than I do.”

Then he touched my thigh. Around the middle, underneath (in lithotomy position).

Then he JIGGLED IT.

He jiggled my thigh.

And then he grimaced.

And then he did the Pap smear. I was frozen, completely unable (by my inexperience, position, and by general medical disempowerment) to say anything.

And then I fled.

Was I ‘traumatised’? I didn’t have nightmares. I went and got my next Pap smear dutifully, largely because I really didn’t have any choice – no Pap smear, no Pill script. (Ask me about contraceptive hostage-taking! You know you want to!)

But every time I get a Pap smear, every single time, even now more than twenty years later, I see his face. I see him jiggling my thigh with that look of disgust. Every time I lie down and spread my legs for the speculum, I am reminded of exactly how repugnant my body is.

My first impulse is to tell you exactly how fat I wasn’t, back then. To tell you that it wasn’t ok for him to do that because I was physically fit at the time. To tell you at length about how my aerobic capacity was at the 95th centile, that I could do a hundred pushups, that I could swim a k without stopping, that I was beating my fit male friends at squash, that I was getting State medals in my chosen sport. But that’s all irrelevant – because fat-shaming isn’t ok for people who are actually fat any more than it’s ok for people who aren’t. Fat-shaming doesn’t get a pass when it’s limited to people as fat as I am now, or twice as fat as me, or whatever. Fat-shaming isn’t bad because it’s directed at inbetweenies as well as at fat people. Fat-shaming is harmful for EVERYONE. Fat-shaming is not.ok.

As long as some doctors keep seeing lithotomy position as a prime opportunity to ladle on the shame, girls and women are going to avoid Pap smears. So hey, ball’s in your court, medical profession. Fix it. Get your own house in order, and meanwhile, stop telling US we’re the ones doing it wrong.

32 responses to “Pap smears, fat-shaming, and the lithotomy trap”

  1. Personal Failure

    Yes. This is why I am lax in getting Pap smears. Because I have had doctors take the opportunity, more than once, to have charming, nonPap discussions while I am in the most vulnerable, nervous-making, almost-a-panic-attack position possible. Not about fatshaming, but about sexual behavior, eating habits, etc.

    Hey, doc! I don’t wanna hear shit out of your mouth while I have my feet in the stirrups other than “Okay, done now.” And if you want to discuss anything with me while I’m naked and you’re clothed, I’m going to insist on the second half of the discussion occurring while I’m clothed and you’re naked.

    Asshole.

  2. Sarah TX

    Hmmm, yes. I waited until an unhealthily late age (like 24? 25?) to get my first “women’s health exam”, precisely because I generally avoid situations where I’m naked and not in control. Luckily my doctor is amazing, and even if she wasn’t I was old enough and deep enough into fat acceptance that I would have covered my feelings of shame in a thick layer of anger.

  3. Michaela Barrett

    On my last visit to by ob/gyn (which shall, in fact, be the last one), there was a large placard on display in the waiting room announcing the newest addition to the (fairly large) practice: a cosmetic surgeon who would offering a variety of outpatient procedures, including liposuction.

    I hate shopping for a new doctor, it’s such a heavy expenditure of spoons and I have chronic gynecological issues that make the search even more exacting. But I walked out of that office knowing that I could never walk back into it, that I would never feel safe, that I would always be expecting the doctors and staff to try to shame me about my body and my appearance so I would agree to unneeded (and expensive) procedures.

  4. The Bald Soprano

    my last pap smear included a lecture on how I needed to work harder at losing weight (note:I had already explained my approach to HAES to this doctor at least three times and that I went right back into obsessive restriction every time I dieted….) in the MIDDLE of the exam.

    I haven’t been able to make myself find a new gyno yet, either…. (NOT going back to the other one…)

    I had no idea that this was a widespread thing that doctors are doing to women.

  5. kaninchenzero

    happens all kinds of contexts. i haven’t got a cervix so no paps for k0. but i have a prostate gland and get occasional rectal exams and my gp liked to tell me every goddamn time i was in office i was fat and needed to do something about it. (it was a side effect of taking neurontin. when i stopped taking it lo and behold! the weight came off.) there’s worse though.

    i see an urologist fairly often to have big fucking metal things pushed into my urethra so i don’t die from renal failure. it hurts (none of the -caine meds work right with my neurology ((which has made my extensive dental work just a joy and a delight))) and it’s an extremely vulnerable position and i’m trying to work on meditation breathing and relax enough the big fucking metal thing can go in and do me some good.

    so i went in and i got a new tattoo on my forearm. i expect there to be questions about it; there are always questions about highly visible ink. “do you have others?”

    “yeah.”

    “where?”

    um. two on my back. my breasts are tattooed also. he asked if he could see. i said yes without really wanting to and showed him, trying to keep my aureolae covered. there was no one else in the room. often the wife goes with to doctors but she didn’t want to watch me hurt that much. a nurse wasn’t there because… i dunno.

    it feels really creepy and fucked up and wrong. i’ve waited way longer than i should between visits. it has pushed hard at trauma memories and…

    shit.

    i haven’t thought this through this way. fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. this is one of the things that started the latest cascade of fuckedupness. oh shit i hate when things make sense.

  6. Astrid

    In the Netherlands, fortunately, pap smear and pill script are two different things, which I realize now I have to be very glad for. We don’t get preventive pap smears till age 30 so I’m glad to never have had one, although medically speaking I think this age is way high given at what ages girls/women have sex in general. But that is not hte point.

  7. Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

    I very much agree that when you’re at a gyn appointment with your feet in stirrups, it’s not the time for discussion of anything, and certainly not for a commentary on your body. I don’t want to hear “You’re in great shape!” and more than I want to hear, “You could really lose some weight.” They’re both invasive, and the procedure itself is invasive enough, thanks. All I’m waiting to hear is “You can get your clothes on now.”

    My very worst pap/cervical experience was the time I went to a gyn who pressed my ovaries so hard I cried out, and who then responded to my pain with “Well, now you know what it feels like when you kick a man in the balls.” Until that very moment, the thought had never even occurred to me….

  8. Skips

    Astrid – same here in the UK. We’re not forced to have our vaginas entered to get contraception, we’re not forced to endure it every year from puberty onwards, and yet – here we all are, alive and well, and the population suffers no more from cervical cancer than the population of the US.

    I hate this ‘cancer vaccine’ nonsense, I loathe the control and manipulation of women from a very young age by ‘professionals’ who tell them that without a yearly smear they will DIE, or that they need to be ‘checked out’ before getting on the Pill or they will DIE.

    I frequent a very busy women’s health forum. Young women post in tears on a daily basis because their tests have shown cell changes that are almost certainly associated with physical maturation. Others are terrified that because they haven’t had a smear yet, and they’re 20, that they’re probably under a death sentence. Young people are dealing with unwanted pregnancies and abortions because they’re too afraid to get the smear that grants them access to BC.

    Some women are walking around with pain from STIs or ovarian cysts, or have infertility caused by infections, because they’re convinced that a pap smear tests for everything. They think partners must have cheated, “How could I have chlamydia? I get paps”.

    One young woman is an American ex-pat living in the UK. She’s gone through several doctors and denounced them all as ‘idiots’ because they refused to do a smear on a 20 year old woman who’s had sex a couple of times, with one guy. So she paid a private company to do one on her, and wonder of wonders they found cell changes and want to perform LEEPs and biopsies, only she can’t afford it. So she trots back to the ‘idiots’ and demand that the NHS foot the cost for her. They refuse, she melts down, and due to her years of American brainwashing she’s convinced she’s practically terminally ill, and is desperate to raise money to be ‘treated’.

    It’s so sad, but despite all the evidence to the contrary that virgins don’t need to be tested, that yearly smears aren’t necessary, that Gardasil is not a ‘cancer vaccine’ etc etc, there are millions of female-bodied people convinced that they’ll die a horrible painful death without one, or going without BC, or walking around like little STI timebombs.

  9. Katherine

    Astrid, when I went for my first smear my doctor told me that frequently with young women who haven’t had any kids, they can’t get far enough into the cervix to get the right sort of cells to test. I don’t know how common this is, but if they’re getting inconclusive tests from most women under 30 in countries where they want to test you as soon as they can, and then ignoring the inconclusive results, they may as well not be testing.

    If I’d had a bad experience with a smear you can bet I’d NEVER have gone back for a second one. I’ll certainly remember Personal Failure’s policy for if I ever have issues in future!

  10. Katherine

    And there’s a really long comment over at Hoyden About Town on the cross-post that goes into more detail about testing too much.

  11. Sarah

    I got (or attempted to get) my first pap smear at college, and was just incredibly annoyed by the fact that I had to get one in order to get a prescription for birth control pills. Even though I repeatedly told the doctor that I hadn’t ever had sex. I don’t know whether she just didn’t believe me (because all young women lie about their sexual experiences, you know), or was just wedded to bureaucratic rules. She didn’t fat-shame me, but I was incredibly put off by her harsh, brusque manner. Things like pap smears tend to set off my sensory sensitivities in a major way, and I melted down a bit. When it became clear that I just couldn’t take it, she did give me the prescription without having finished the procedure. I was, fortunately, able to have one done by my regular physician with much less discomfort.

    Given all of the ways in which getting a pap smear is already so anxiety-inducing, it’s infuriating that some doctors would add fat-shaming to it. Just…urgh.

  12. AWV

    I’ve never had one, I guess I dodged a bullet being American. I went to a gynecologist once when I was 18 and I was reeeally uncomfortable so she was like “…well if you really haven’t had sex I guess it’s okay.” still have never had sex (three years later) and am just planning on avoiding it as long as possible because that shit hurts.

  13. Jo

    Possible triggery comment. Discusses sexual abuse and trauma as well as panic disorder.

    I just turned 30 and have never had a papsmear. I’m terrified of them, just like I am of penetrative sex.. The one time I tried, I nearly punched the female practitioner giving me a simple pelvic exam in the face involuntarially. I left crying and haven’t been back since after she suggested I “get some therapy” to help with my “issues.”

    I was sexually assaulted multiple times when I was seven years old by other students. I was most recently sexually assaulted two years ago by a family friend. I wish men would keep their fucking hands off me long enough for me to “deal with my issues” so I could have a medically important procedure done, but as they seem incapable of doing that, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

    The good news, though, is that I had no choice but to have a vaginal exam that was somewhat penetrating this year, and I did it without either injuring the doctor or throwing up/blacking out, so maybe I should try again? *sigh* I just don’t know, and I hate this situation so much.

  14. Michelle

    K0 – I had a similar experience with tattoos & the gynecologist; I went to the free clinic when I was in college and the examiner, aside from being rude and patronizing the whole rest of the exam, started interrogating me about my tattoo (s? don’t remember if I had more than one at the time) and what they meant and why they got them. Shockingly enough, I didn’t feel like talking about it, so I gave short answers, and then she got all sniffy with obvious “What a STUPID tattoo!” overtones. Ugh.

  15. Kaitlyn

    I don’t know if I’ve ever had a pap smear, which probably isn’t a good thing. (They’ve certainly been in there – both on the table and during procedures where I’m knocked out.)

    I was put on BC for “health”* reasons, to control my periods and then to get rid of them. (Which I am fine with!)

    One thing that Dr Ego has never done (my GYN and the guy treating my pain for going on 4 years) is comment on my weight. I respect him a lot for that. And when the nurses at my Endo’s office made a big deal of my weight loss, I shut that down fast. And at my latest Endo appointment this May, he said you should exercise, but don’t overdo it – don’t get too hot, it’s summer and don’t hurt yourself. “I walk.” “Perfect! Just not at noon.” “Dang…” But never a feeling of shame… perhaps because I’ve been seeing him since 2001.

    *As if controlling when and if you get pregnant and/or give birth isn’t related to your health.

  16. Naamah

    I really feel sick recounting it all over again, so I will just link here:

    In which I complain about asshole doctors.

    (Language warning; I wrote this before I really started trying to cut “bitch” out of my lexicon.)

    Short version: Planned Parenthood forced me to get a pap smear to get pills I needed to stop bleeding and keep from having kids I neither wanted nor could afford. The results came back weird, and they told me that unless I had a biopsy I would get cancer and die. That is literally what they said. I got a second opinion, the doctor who did THAT was a horrible person, making things worse. She did, however, tell me that the cancer thing was bullshit. I went back to PP and asked why they had LIED TO ME, and they flat out SAID that it was because if they didn’t lie to women like me, we would never come in for the more expensive and invasive biopsy, which apparently we “needed.” Even though we really, you know, DID NOT.

    This is not including the doctor who told me “all ladies love the pill” and wouldn’t discuss other birth control options with me and told me that the side effects were my imagination.

    Also not including the completely dreadful shitbag who denied me medical treatment because, after having a meltdown due to the above abuses, I swore in front of (NOT AT) one of her staff.

    Also not including the time when I was 17 and refused a procedure, only to have it forced on me anyway, in front of witnesses. I don’t talk about that one in any greater depth, ever, because it still makes me feel like I am going to throw up.

    I fucking hate doctors with a fiery passion. I quit taking any shit from them several years ago, and have never looked back. One wrong word, one wrong LOOK, and I let them have it, and leave.

    I am with you on the hostage-taking to get pill prescriptions. It is evil, violating, wrong. And I mean that. Completely.

  17. MomTFH

    Oh, hear hear. I have a good friend who went to go see a physician today because of amenorrhea. He told her she probably missed her period because she was fat.

    *head desk* for so many reasons. First of all, you are more likely to be amenorrheic because of being underweight, not overweight. Secondly, if one has a condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is the pathology of the condition that can lead to lack of a period AND can lead to weight gain. They are both symptoms. The fat is not the cause of the missed periods. And finally, what a dismissive and judgmental thing to say.

    The entire visit was a train wreck. He also told her she needed to get off of her chronic pain meds even though she rarely takes them, and told her to lose weight for that, too. Even though her chronic pain is due to a really bad car accident in which she shattered some bones and had to get extensive surgery to put them back together again. These injuries not only hurt, but they limit her mobility to a point that many forms of exercise are too painful or difficult to do.

    Argh.
    MomTFH´s last [type] ..More prenatal humor

  18. Sevita

    I’ve seen my gynecologist twice, and neither time she’s given me a pap. The first was just an physical, no internal exam, and the second was to get my pills. She did do an internal exam that day, but only since it was the year aniversary of my “issue” but didn’t make me have a pap before giing my pill script even though I was sexually active (btw the office is in NY). So even though I’m 20 and live in the states, am on the pill and sexually active I have yet to have a pap, and am soo relieved that I can trust my Ob/Gyn to trust what I tell her and to respect my choices. It scares me to know how often Drs. ruin the trust and reminds me once more how lucky I am to have the Drs. that I do.

  19. Layla

    I was pretty lucky for a very long time. My mother was an np who was well and capable of giving plenty of other women paps, and had, but trusted me when I told her I wasn’t having sex and put me on the pill in a desperate attempt to clear up my acne and make my periods more regular (didn’t work so well, but that’s another story) without giving me the pap. I’ve been lucky to be able to be pretty open with her. When the HPV paranoia hit my college campus, I honestly asked her, “mom, if I’m not having sex, do I need to get the vaccination?” And she honestly told me, “no, not really.”

    I’m pretty lucky too that the NP who I did finally have a pap with two years ago was at least kind enough to wait till I had my clothes on to ask me about my weight. However, she was horribly horribly rough, you can bet I’m not going back to her, and true to Katherine’s pronouncement, I’ve not gone back since, it was so painful (I hurt for days afterward). I can’t imagine going through something like that, and then having a doctor feel the need to shame me about my body, while hurting it. Double ouch.

  20. Yog-Sothoth

    “Astrid – same here in the UK. We’re not forced to have our vaginas entered to get contraception, we’re not forced to endure it every year from puberty onwards, and yet – here we all are, alive and well, and the population suffers no more from cervical cancer than the population of the US.”

    @Skips:

    Thanks for mentioning this! I live in Germany and here it is just like you said… annual pap smears are mandatory (as far as I can tell) if you want to get birth control, such as the pill. There is no way to void this… and my (female) ob-gyn told me some awful stories about a 22 year-old woman who had to get an uterus surgery because of cancer (which could have been avoided if only she had not missed her annual check-ups, as the doctor said).

    But I think, this is kind of sick… there are definitely more people who are dying from heart problems but no one would bother to send 20-year-olds to a cardiologist once a year.

    (No need to mention that I loathe those medical procedures with my whole heart… it even haunts me in my nightmares… And being told stupid stuff about one’s weight is even worse then, I guess)

    “I hate this ‘cancer vaccine’ nonsense, I loathe the control and manipulation of women from a very young age by ‘professionals’ who tell them that without a yearly smear they will DIE, or that they need to be ‘checked out’ before getting on the Pill or they will DIE.”

    100 % agree

  21. Lindsay

    (Ask me about contraceptive hostage-taking! You know you want to!)

    Yes, that aspect of reproductive health care (in the US) really bothers me, too. I probably would have benefited from going on birth control pills as a teenager — fewer sick days because of disabling periods, fewer days of going to school in terrible pain only to come home later because I had thrown up — but I wouldn’t have been able to let a doctor put a speculum in me at that age. The prospect would’ve terrified me.

    Fortunately, after a very painful, traumatic Pap at my first gynecologist visit, my nurse-midwife decided I didn’t need a yearly Pap as long as I remained a virgin. Both she and the other nurse I saw for my second-ever Pap this year were very gentle, and did everything they could to make it easy for me — I told them both that I was autistic, experienced touch as pain, and might also have vaginismus.

    So I’ve been very lucky in terms of the practitioners I’ve seen — not only did they take my problems with pain on penetration seriously, but they’ve also been very kind, supportive and accepting in general, never doing any shaming of my body or lifestyle (even though I’d never had intercourse, I was in an open, polyamorous relationship, which I mentioned) or pooh-poohing of my concerns (I am childfree, and have heard many horror stories from younger women who’ve mentioned their desire to remain childless to ob/gyns who’ve told them they were too young to know that) — but I still wish the health system in my country let you have access to contraception without undergoing such a scary, invasive procedure. That would make it a lot easier, I think, for disabled and very young women to get on birth control….

    (This is a pet peeve for me, too, Lauredhel!!)
    Lindsay´s last [type] ..I Had to Get Through School by Going Through the Back Door- Temple Grandin on Gatekeeping in Higher Education

  22. The Bald Soprano

    You know, the total dismissal of the need for pap smears (and HPV vaccine) for women in this thread bothers me. Maybe because I know at least one relative who actually had a pap smear catch cancer. I’d far rather have regular pap smears (without the horrible experience from some of the doctors I’ve had –I’ve had some that weren’t horrible, too) than, you know, have had my mother die when I was little from cancer.

  23. Shiyiya

    I am so very glad that my BC scrip is technically for PMDD and dysmenorrhea so I got it (from my pediatrician, originally, actually) without a pap. I’ve had one since and while the nurse practitioner was very nice, it’s not an experience I’m eager to repeat – my cervix hurt and bled for DAYS. (I’m not really sure why I’d even NEED one – one sex partner, who tested clean for everything before we did anything, and my pediatrician gave me the Gardasil shots a couple years anyway cos my mum insisted.)

    (Mammograms and breast exams though I’m apparently supposed to start getting every year starting now because I have a gene for breast cancer. Lovely.)

    At least I haven’t gotten any flack from doctors about my weight yet. My pediatrician started to say I was overweight once but then she looked at my growth chart and went “oh wait no actually you aren’t”. At least she’s not using BMI >_<

  24. Neville Park

    Ugh…paps. I sort of had one several years ago, but it was so awful I can’t stand to ask for another one. I have a sexual “dysfunction” that means the stuff they do in pap smears is very painful, not to mention that the whole cold metal and stirrups things makes me feel extremely vulnerable, powerless, and anxious. So they’re doing hurty things that I don’t want them to do. I let them do it—or at least I held out as long as I could—but I felt coerced.

    @The Bald Soprano: yeah, I know I could get cancer. But I just can’t go through that again. It might sound whiny, but it was just awful. If I got a really good doctor, maybe…but I haven’t yet found one who I trust not to hurt me by SHOVING STUFF INSIDE ME WITHOUT PERMISSION. *sigh*

  25. The Bald Soprano

    Neville Park: I have no problem with statements about personal difficulties with pap smears and pelvic exams –I’ve made such statements and will again– or with people putting off paps because of bad experiences (again, been there, trying not to do it right now, actually….) –it’s just the blanket dismissal of the usefulness/necessity of the tests that bothers me!

  26. The Bald Soprano

    I’m sorry, that was not my intention, and I guess I must have misread some things.

  27. liz

    After visiting this site http://blogcritics.org/culture/article/unnecessary-pap-smears/
    and reading al the comments I have learnt that cervical cancer is RARE. It’s not worth the embarrassment and insults from doctors. The medical profession has done a good job into scaring women that this is so important for our health. But on closer examination the pap smear is a very flawed test that doesn’t pick up one third of cc cases anyway.

  28. Faith

    My most recent gynecologist is terrible and very fatphobic. I’ve seen her twice. Once for an annual visit and the second because my periods were way off. My cycles were getting more and more spaced out and I finally decided to see her when my cycle went to 47 days! I honestly wish I hadn’t. She didn’t ask me about stress in my life or hormones and just assumed that my cycle was off because I’m fat. She then proceeded to tell me to eat Cheerios with skim milk (ha!) and watch my calories.

    I decided she was full of crap, went to the Vitamin Shoppe, got Femaprin, finally left my stressful job and lo and behold, my cycle returns to a normal time frame. All without losing an ounce of weight.

    She called me again yesterday because she had blood work done on me. Even though my blood sugar is normal and always tests normal, she says that my insulin is a little elevated (for some reason I do not trust her). So she tells me to see my primary and tells me I need to lose weight and that she believes that’s the reason why my periods were off (she never even asked me if my periods became normal again…ugh!). On top of it, she tells me that I need to do a low card diet like the Atkins diet. Wow! Even though that diet has been seriously discredited, she recommends it to me. Her receptionist asked if I wanted to schedule an appointment in three months to get a pap smear done. I told my insurance had ended and I wouldn’t be able to schedule one. Even if I did have insurance, I certainly wouldn’t see her again! I wonder how many other poor fat women she’s fat shamed. I do wish that doctors would simply take care of our health and stop trying to make us skinny.

  29. Oceanesque

    I once had a female GP catch one of my outer labia between the two pieces of her speculum and start to move the speculum, crushing the labia down between two pieces of metal.

    It honestly felt like she was about to crush or cut it off!

    When I yelped, and told her what was happening?

    No apology whatsoever… …for almost crushing or cutting into one of my labia.

    I was 19.

    Nowadays, I would write a letter of complaint to the practice manager, to the State medical board, to the newspaper… to anyone who would listen. And I would write about it on LJ, with the GP’s name and practice address.

    That is NOT how you treat your patients.

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