Woman's obituary calling for an end to fat shaming goes viral

Ellen Bennett. Image via Legacy.com
Ellen Bennett. Image via Legacy.com

A Newfoundland woman’s obituary has gone viral after calling for an end to fat shaming from the medical community.

Ellen Bennett died on May 11 in Victoria, B.C. after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer and being given just days to live.

Bennett’s family honoured her dying wishes by including a message about the persistent fat shaming she experienced from medical professionals.

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Over the past few years of feeling unwell she sought out medical intervention and no one offered any support or suggestions beyond weight loss,” the obituary reads. “Ellen’s dying wish was that women of size make her death matter by advocating strongly for their health and not accepting that fat is the only relevant health issue.”

Bennett’s obituary has prompted others to come forward, sharing their experiences of fat shaming.

Ellen Bennett. Image via Legacy.com.
Ellen Bennett. Image via Legacy.com.

It is so sad that it has to be in her obit,” one woman wrote on Twitter. “I personally have been fat shamed more than once by a medical professional and because of it, I have not had a routine physical in years.”

“This happened to me four years ago,” another woman commented, sharing Bennett’s obituary to Facebook. “Too often they just tell us to lose weight and don’t try to resolve the actual problem. They simply blame it on our size. I had bad back pain for months and doctors kept saying to lose weight… I nearly died. I went septic because I was having gallstones which turned me jaundice and they didn’t bother to try and determine the source of my pain – because I was fat and that must be why. Please advocate for yourself and don’t let doctors fat shame you or your loved ones.”

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The family beautifully conveyed Bennett’s zest for life, noting that in her final days, her family happily fulfilled her wishes for fresh lobster from Nova Scotia, for her room in hospice to be filled with blooming peonies, and for the perfect bowl of shrimp-wanton soup.

“Please remember Ellen when you next read a great book, go to a play or buy a small object of stunning beauty,” the obituary concludes. “We’ve lost a remarkable woman.”

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