I had an appointment at my dermatologist’s office yesterday. I’ve been to the office many times before, but this visit was very different.
From the beginning, I felt like a number as I was herded through the office along with many other patients. After waiting a considerable amount of time in the front office I was rushed to a room. Once there they told to take off my clothes and use a paper garment to cover my body.
While my life is much fuller in recovery, I still have a way to go with the body acceptance piece. In fact, accepting my body seems to be the final hurdle in my recovery as well as the most challenging.
As I was handed the paper gown, I felt butterflies in my stomach when I remembered the “mole check” this office does. As soon as I removed my clothes a physician’s assistant burst into the room to find me standing in my bra and underwear awkwardly trying to cover my body.
She hadn’t knocked nor did she apologize. Instead, she immediately grabbed the paper cover and started “checking” my body. I felt so uncomfortable and immediately heard the eating disorder voices in my head. As I worked on challenging the negative thoughts I silently willed for this part of the exam to be over.
Thankfully, the mole check was over quickly. But so was the next part of the appointment when I had a chance to voice my concerns about a rash on my legs.
Not only did this medical provider burst into my room with out knocking, ignoring my obvious signs of distress, but she also talked over me.
She quickly spouted out some text book answers to me about eczema and suggested things I already do. Then she told me the medication I was using isn’t the correct without giving me very much time to process the information or ask questions.
In all, she was in my room for a total of about seven minutes. Then she was gone. And I felt even more confused than I had when I walked in the building.
“Take years off your face”
What had just happened?
First, she stormed into the room not providing me with any warning and any kind of respect for the vulnerable position I was in.
Then she rushed my appointment along, dismissing my concerns, and acting as if she knows my body better than I do. I was infuriated.
To top it off, as I waited in the front office for a copy of my receipt- I casually looked around and was bombarded with advertisements of creams, treatments, and procedures that could “take years off your face.”
When did a doctor’s office become more concerned about the wrinkles on my face than my owns concern and questions?
Why is it that I can go to a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL and instead of walking out feeling better, I leave feeling violated and as if I need to change my appearance?
Doctor’s office? Or beauty pageant?
I will be 44 years old next month. That means I have spent more than half of my life battling an eating disorder that stemmed from the belief that I’m not okay as I am.
Our culture has taught me that in order to be beautiful I must shrink my body and close my mouth.
It has also taught us that doctors are all knowing and have the answers. There is so much wrong with this belief.
I’m a smart woman and I realize there is no way to prevent my body from aging. From the time we are born, our bodies are changing, and this continues until we die.
I was struck with the irony that this office (claiming to be a medical facility) greats me at the door with signs of how I can prevent aging. And sadly, I know this office is not unique.
Can you imagine, if doctor’s could see each person as the unique being they are?
What if doctors had time to actually spend with each patient – LISTENING to the patient’s concerns? And imagine if the doctor actually believed that each person has unique wisdom held within their own body?
If true wellness and health (including physical AND mental) was the main goal of every provider I wonder how different a visit to the dermatologist would be.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if our culture AND our medical professionals had respect for the aging body, noticing it’s miracles and power and appreciating that the wrinkles are proof of a long life?
I bet I wouldn’t walk out with a sick feeling in my stomach.
A new dragon to slay
Compete recovery from my eating disorder is my ultimate goal. But yesterday I realized that once I reach this goal, I will have new dragon to slay.
This idea that in order to be “beautiful” a woman we also must remain youthful and appear flawless is just as damaging as the idea that we all must be thin.
Bu thankfully, my recovery has taught me a lot about this lie. And I’ll be flexing these recovery muscle to battle yet another impossible set of standards I’m held to.
By the way, I am currently searching for a new dermatologist and working on accepting my body’s size, shape, and wrinkles – just the way they are