Chubby Not Chastity: Guess What? I’m Fat and Want Plan B
Posted by Kenyetta Whitfield
September 8, 2016
During finals week this past April, I found myself slumped over a frequently dying PC, empty Starbucks double shots and a series of text messages about Plan B. My sole sexual partner at the time was trying to convince me that sex with condoms is lame and that au-naturale was the way to go. Now, of course the break from studying piqued my interest so I listened to his various arguments for why latex-less sex was what all the kids were doing. After a few misguided attempts to convince me, he offered up what I’m sure he saw as the winning argument: “how about I buy you Plan B afterwards.”
There it was, the end all, be all of preventative methods. Except there was one flaw with this holy grail of contraception – I’m fat (And yes, I called myself fat). Therefore, most emergency contraception isn’t for me.
According to a Princeton University website dedicated to emergency contraception facts, there are currently several forms of EC pills offered in the United States. These include Ella, Plan B One-Step, Take Action, Next Choice One Dose and My Way. Of these pills, there is no viable option for an obese person (BMI of 30 or more).
Well, technically I already knew this information. I can vividly remember a 16-year-old me stumbling across random Tumblr posts, and one in particular caught my eye. It was a long thread with fat women complaining about their inability to use Plan B. So my history with this valuable information was vast and frankly not troubling.
But what is a sexually active fat girl to do?
The first step would be informing her eager sexual partner that Plan B loses virtually all of its effectiveness if the user is over 170 pounds. To which he might reply with the same almost childlike shock that you displayed at age 16. The second step would be silently scolding the universe because once again the reproductive health world has failed fat people.
Over 35% of adults in the United States are considered to be obese. This means that a significant portion of the population of sexually active adults are being denied reproductive health options because of the unwillingness of the reproductive health movement to include fat bodies.
Currently, the only effective method of emergency contraception for a person with a BMI over 30 (dismantling the BMI scale is a problem for another day) is to have a copper IUD inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex.
But that is better than nothing right? Wrong.
As Jazmin Walker of Rewire stated, despite the long term convenience of an IUD, it must be inserted and removed by a medical professional. This not only strips women of reproductive agency but it also reinforces the violent rhetoric that medical professions know what is best. Which is wrong for a multitude of reasons.
For as long as I can remember, medical professions have treated my weight as a cause with no correlation. Headache? Lose weight. Sore Throat? Lose weight. This attitude didn’t diminish when I started seeing gynecologists. My mother’s long-time OBGYN had me lay on his cold and uncomfortable table in a medical gown two sizes too small while he eagerly declared that he wouldn’t allow me to continue “at this rate,” a sentiment I can only assume meant “living while fat.” Long story short, medical professionals don’t always know best and fat people have every right to be disappointed with the medical world.
So the problem remains – how the heck are fat people supposed to feel completely protected from pregnancy if 95% of the emergency contraception methods that exist don’t exist in a world for them?
IUDs as a form of EC continue to be inaccessible, expensive and scary for many women living in poverty and women of color. Considering the history they have with the forced sterilization of black women, who have higher rates of obesity, IUDs seem almost violent.
It’s time for the medical world to admit that the exclusion of fat people from clinical trials for emergency contraception is unacceptable. We’re fat, we have sex, and a lot of us don’t want to get pregnant.