It was all well and good until the lecturer tells us we have five minutes left, and do we want to see a "really gross case" before the end of class. Of course, the class says yes. So he pulls up a slide that says "Morbid Obesity". He then described and showed images of a panniculectomy. That's an operation to remove a large pannus (basically extra tummy fat that can hang down over the pelvis in fat people). This was an unusually large pannus in an unusally large woman.
I jotted down a few comments, verbatim, from the lecturer:
- "next time you go to the chip truck" (that is, remember this case, because if you eat too many chips you'll get like this)
- "she works at the post office" (just to reinforce other random fat-person stereotypes, I guess)
- "I'm not making fun of her, this is a horrible disease" ... but ... "this disease is from eating"
- "she's still huge! look at the size of her!" (that is, she's still a giant fatty after we've removed the pannus)
This was a whole lecture of cases that could be considered 'gross'. It's gross to see someone's abdomen ripped open, it's gross to see someone with half their face missing, and it's gross to see a hand with no skin on it. Nevertheless, the panniculectomy was the only item in the lecture that was explicitly described as gross. The part that really gets me is that the prof wasn't describing the surgery as gross, rather, he was describing this woman's body as gross. That's the part that really is not okay.
Afterwards, I was pretty upset about this. Over the next couple of days I asked a few classmates for their impressions. The response was pretty uniform. Mostly, they didn't recall the panniculectomy slides at first. Then they agreed that there would have been a less offensive way to say it -- but on the other hand, there's a lot of black humour in medicine, and I'm being a overly sensitive.
I don't think I'm being overly sensitive. This matters. Fat people don't seek medical care because they worry that doctors will think their bodies are "gross".