I find it so interesting that almost the exact same article could have been written about “pain shaming.” As with fat shaming, there is a suggestion of moral “weakness” in the individual. If they were only better, stronger, more morally upright, they would not be so fat, or in so much pain. Exactly as with fat shaming it is doctors and the medical community that have led the way in making patients feel less human simply for being in pain. As their condition is obvious and visible the overweight and obese feel, hear, and see a constant stream of vicious negativity directed at them from society at large in the form of messages that are both overt and insidiously subtle. In contrast for many of those with chronic pain their suffering is invisible. However, for those whose pain is obvious, usually manifested as difficulties in mobility, facing outright discrimination and hateful conduct is not at all unusual. For those in chronic pain an added indignity comes in the form of the criminalization of safe and effective drugs due to hysteria over opiate misuse and abuse. The difficulties involved in filling a simple prescription for pain medications are enough as to make Jim Crow look almost banal in comparison. It does a disservice to both racial discrimination and pain/fat discrimination to attempt to draw moral equivalences between and among them. They are each moral wrongs in their own way and all are deserving of our utmost contempt. In the case of racial discrimination I would argue we have come a long way forward though much work is left to do. I am afraid the same cannot be said for discrimination against the overweight/obese and chronic pain sufferers. They remain two widely accepted forms of discrimination. Until that changes shaming of these individuals for simply being who they are will continue unabated.

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Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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