Last word

Fat-shaming doctors called out in woman’s obituary

Ellen Maud Bennett's dying wish was that women of size advocate strongly for their health. (

By all accounts, Ellen Maud Bennett lived a wonderful life. Before succumbing to cancer at age 64, her final days were filled with fresh lobster, peonies, and “perfect shrimp wonton soup.” But even after she died, she had a few things to say to the doctors who initially refused to look past her weight to discover why she wasn’t feeling well.

Her obituary, published in the Times Colonist newspaper in Canada, has gone viral, in part because it reads: “A final message Ellen wanted to share was about the fat-shaming she endured from the medical profession….Over the past few years of feeling unwell she sought out medical intervention and no one offered any support or suggestions beyond weight loss….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.” She was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and given only days to live.

Many women have chimed in on social media sharing their own experiences of their health concerns being sidelined by their doctors. One man shared that his mother loathes going to the doctor because she is fat-shamed; another person said their mother’s doctors refused to treat her unless she first lost weight.

It’s remarkable that her message has spread so far and wide and sparked these conversations, exactly as intended. As her obituary states, “Please remember Ellen when you next read a great book, go to a play or buy a small object of stunning beauty. We’ve lost a remarkable woman.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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