1951 Menopause Book: The Changing Years by Madeline Gray & "Fat Shaming"
I just finished reading the 1950s book, The Changing Years: What to do about the Menopause by Madeline Gray and highly recommend it! Despite its age it's filled with a lot of relevant, valuable and scientifically sound information. There was also no mention of giving women radiation treatment! Some of it of course would be controversial today. I love the author's compassionate, no nonsense approach. She explains everything in detail, and I mean everything, but is never patronizing. I learned a lot about the biochemical process of menopause, something I personally have yet to go through. There are many vintage copies available online so if you can, give it a read!
I want to share her comments about seeing a doctor to help her lose weight:
My doctor was a Park Avenue man who specializes in slenderizing actresses and other fashionable women, and I won't mention his name because he charged me the whopping sum of $60 for a month's consultation, and all he did for my $60 was to give me a simple plan, then see me once a week and scream at me if I'd eaten anything I shouldn't. And I mean scream! If I'd had as much as two extra pieces of bread he acted as if I'd committed a murder, or at the very least broken a Hollywood contract, and literally stormed. But this was mostly an act of his. Anyway, it was worth it, because he really did change my whole way of eating. Better than that, he put into my hands a tool I can use for the rest of my life. He called this tool a "plan" rather than a "diet list," because diet lists are dreadful things.
This made me think of the recent article on Gawker, Your Doctor Probably Is Not Fat Shaming You:
Common sense tells us that there are most certainly some doctors with poor bedside manner. There are most certainly doctors who have made rude remarks and acted callously towards their obese patients. There is most certainly a need for doctors to be trained to act and speak with sensitivity, both to avoid turning off their own patients, and for the sake of manners. And it is most certainly a fact that it is not easy being an obese person. Empathy for those who face serious challenges in life is a hallmark of common human decency.
That said: the fact that some doctors may at times be rude to obese patients is something very different from the supposition that virtually any suggestion by a doctor that an obese person should diet, exercise, and lose weight amounts to "fat shaming."
In the case with Ms. Gray, she specifically sought out a physician to the stars and found his approach effective. She certainly didn't take it to heart emotionally but probably improved her cardiovascular health by changing her eating habits and weight. While this kind of approach (and much of the 50s approach to weight loss) is shocking to many today, we do live in a time where most any mention of weight by a physician, even if respectful, can be dismissed as "fat shaming."
I had a discussion with my own doctor, a very soft-spoken, respectful and competent lady, about this very issue. I had told her about my 50s diet book and how in the 1950s it was acceptable for a doctor to tell his or her patient to eat less, move more, and eat more healthily. She shared that she and her colleagues found it very difficult to communicate with some of their obese patients because they would become very hostile and defensive.
What are your thoughts on this issue?