By Rachel Fox
Rachel Fox explores how doctor-writer narratives often depict fat people in dehumanising and hurtful ways, and argues they need to be reframed with empathy.
During my six years as a student in the medical humanities, I’ve become quite familiar with the “doctor reflecting on a memorable patient encounter” genre of publication. These stories often follow a similar structure: anecdotal introduction, explanation of patient/case/doctor’s own training, dramatic or otherwise significant event, then conclusion with a broader lesson and/or resolution for the author. Stories that take this form are compelling and familiar; readers get to vicariously experience the stakes of medicine with the security of closure awaiting them at the end, while the doctor-writer gets a cohort of witnesses for their perspective on some significant part of their practice. At their best, these stories “humanize” the experience of medicine, giving a personal voice to the intimacies within a seemingly indifferent system. But I have yet to see a story of this genre that humanizes fat people.Continue reading