We live in a society that values and treats people differently based on their body size. Such weight stigma can affect a person’s relationships, career opportunities, and daily life. And when this bias infiltrates a doctor’s office or hospital, it puts heavier patients at risk. Discrimination of any kind is bad for a person’s mental and physical health, but weight discrimination in medicine can also discourage patients from seeking care, exclude them from certain treatments, and lead to dangerous misdiagnoses. Drawing from the knowledge of a dozen experts and the experiences of a dozen patients, this thesis explores the myriad ways that medical weight bias can gravely impact the health and well-being of larger-bodied people. It also asks: where do we go from here?
Kelso Harper’s love for science sprouted alongside the wild oaks of her home in San Luis Obispo, California, and then blossomed in Baltimore, Maryland, where she received her degree in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University. Kelso gleefully gobbled up her chemistry courses and began research, but found herself drawn to other disciplines, too. Slowly she realized that only science journalism could satisfy her many curiosities.
Since graduating in 2018, she has written and produced videos about glacial floods, magnetic droplets, x-ray telescopes, and e-cigarettes for outlets like Scientific American, Retro Report, and the National Geographic Resource Library. Despite her soft spot for natural and physical sciences, Kelso’s interests extend further. As an eating disorder survivor, Kelso aims to combat fat phobia and diet culture by spreading good information on mental health, nutrition, and the complicated relationship between weight and health.
Kelso was a 2020-21 CASW Taylor/Blakeslee Fellow. One day, Kelso hopes to have a staff position as a multimedia science journalist and simply too many houseplants.