In 2013, the American Medical Association finally declared that obesity is a disease. ¬†With that in mind, here are three facts I’d like you to consider:

  1. Over 35 percent of adults in the United States are obese.
  2. It is easier to gain weight than to lose weight.
  3. Almost all of us think about our own weight at some point each day.

The poem below hopes to shift the misconceptions those with obesity confront daily in favor of the understanding and empathy their plight to battle this illness deserves.


Morbid: a) characteristic of disease
b) characterized by gloomy or unwholesome feelings
c) grisly; gruesome

Today my doctor said
I am morbidly obese.

He said it with
a professorial tone
as I imagined
leather elbow patches
being sewn on his white coat.

He doesn’t know I was
a philosophy major
and I’m not certain
he remembers I’m a lawyer.
So he seemed surprised
when I responded:
“Doctor, I have read that
uncontrolled high blood pressure
is called severe,
and a person who ignores
their diabetes is
poorly controlled.
Even someone
with liver failure
is called cirrhotic.”
To which he nodded.
“So I have a weight problem
which may be severe, uncontrolled,
and even extremely unhealthy–
but I don’t think I’m morbid.”

Perhaps I was only arguing semantics
yet his shamed silence
did not give me the usual surge
I feel after winning a trial.
For these are the words
I did not share with him:

“I am reminded
of my fatness
when confronted
on the supermarket
checkout line
by beauty magazines
guaranteeing perfect abs
in six weeks.

I am reminded
of my fatness
when the person
boarding the plane
struggles a smile
when they realize
their seat is 16F
and mine is 16E.

I am reminded also
in the department store
when I tell the salesperson
who helped me find
a size 24 that
I’ll buy the dress now
but try it on at home.”

The world doesn’t see me
as a mother. They see
a fat mother.
They don’t see a wife
but a fat wife.
And a fat daughter,
fat lawyer and fat friend.

It’s a wonder
I am not gloomy,
gruesome or grisly.


Next week’s post: ¬†Debunking 5 myths about weight loss

Follow me on twitter @mdpoet24



Author: mdpoet

Physician and poet living in North Carolina.

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