Too Fat to Be Surgeon General?
Discriminatory Claims Circulating Against Dr. Regina Benjamin’s “Fitness” to Be Surgeon General
There have been some unfortunate derogatory groans about Dr. Regina Benjamin’s Fitness to be President Obama’s pick for Surgeon General. Her weight is throwing opinions of her fitness for the job off kilter.
Case and point from one angry blogger: “Rather than select a fat Black woman Obama should have chose a Black woman with a body mass index of 25 or less.”
Someone else asked: “How can Dr. Benjamin promote healthy eating if she herself is obese?”
“One of the greatest health threats in our population is obesity. Now we have an obese Surgeon General as a role model. How is she to impact the nation’s health if she can’t even take care of herself?”
Of course, her qualifications speak for themselves:
- Bachelor’s degree in 1979 from Xavier University of Louisiana
- Attended Morehouse School of Medicine from 1980 to 1982
- Received a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1984.
- Completed her residency in family practice at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in 1987
- Founded the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in 1990 in Alabama
- Serving as Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic its CEO since.
Today, the National Organization for Women (NOW) is speaking out saying that Dr. Benjamin “personifies the message of NOW’s Love Your Body Day (LYBD) campaign, which promotes equality for all people regardless of physical appearance.”
My friend and body image book contributor, Chenese Lewis is also an actress, plus-sized model, and chair of the LYBD committee for Hollywood NOW. She had something to say on the topic:
“Discrimination based on appearance is wrong in any form, period,” Lewis said. “It’s unfortunate that this is even an issue when Dr. Benjamin is more than qualified and capable of handling the position of Surgeon General. This is yet another example of how society puts more value on outer appearance over ability, integrity, and character.”
Zoe Ann Nicholson, President of Pacific Shore NOW, was also outraged about the discriminatory slaps Dr. Benjamin was receiving due to her weight:
“When I see Dr. Benjamin, I see a woman I can trust,” Nicholson said. “If I have chest pains, it might not be a heart attack or something related to weight. She might understand that just because I am big, a doctor should not give me double doses. Both of these things have happened to me. Since most American women are size 14 or more, I am really encouraged to have a Surgeon General who can see us as people, not as number on a body fat scale chart.”
So…what do you think? Should the Surgeon General pick be thinner? Does weight negate her stellar qualifications? Give us your opinion.