I learned a new word at the ASDAH Conference – new word for an old problem.
Healthism is the idea that you need to have perfect health, and if you do, the feeling of superiority over those that don’t have it. It is also where you blame a person for their ill health because of “bad” habits, lifestyle, etc. It’s the idea that constant striving to be healthy is the duty of each person – if they want to be treated with respect and compassion, and have access to healthcare.
This is part and parcel of the “poster child for fatties” syndrome – where you think you can only be a spokesperson for fat acceptance as long as your “numbers” are good.
Healthism is something we need to fight in society and in ourselves.
There is no such thing as being “perfectly” healthy. For one thing, nobody can agree what perfect health is. And while you may enjoy good health today, nobody knows what tomorrow will bring – we are all subject to our heredity, environment, and the aging process.
And whatever your personal choices are, you deserve good healthcare.
I am one of those people who believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I understand that certain treatments may be limited resources, and choices may have to be made due to availability.
Our society creates many barriers to access of healthcare. Some people simply can’t afford it. But what about people who feel they aren’t deserving of healthcare because they take drugs, smoke or are fat? It’s bad enough when a person doesn’t seek medical treatment because they personally feel they don’t deserve healthcare; but then the government, healthcare professionals, the media and society as a whole reinforces those feelings.
I think people sometimes indulge in healthism because it makes you feel like there is a reason for bad health, and if there’s a reason for bad health, then it can be avoided (and then you’ll live forever). Well, sometimes there is a reason, and sometimes there isn’t (and anyway nobody is going to live forever). But even when there is a reason, that doesn’t mean the bad health shouldn’t be treated. Nobody “deserves” bad health.