Weight bias incidents are more common than ever, reaching epidemic proportions. Unfortunately, it appears to be becoming more institutionalized and rationalized than in the past. It is affecting me as a physician in more ways than one. When I took over an old established practice I discovered the importance of perception in developing patient trust. Female patients twenty years older than me would fix my tie and hair as I concentrated on their heart failure. Soon I learnt a good cut suit matching my body type, with a name brand tie relaxed my patients and initiated the trust I needed.
Over the years of constant feedback from my patients I realized two brands of suits would match my full body type and long arms. Hart Schaffner Marks suits were great, but when the chest was okay the waist size had to be drawn in considerably. Canali suits on the other hand fit me better. They lacked the Hart Schaffner Marks square cut, hid my bulges and I did not spend a fortune tailoring the trousers. They were expensive but I figured the investment was worth it to grow my medical practice.
As time flew by I along with my patients gained weight. The search for good fitting clothes became increasingly problematic. So, I worked hard with the Mindful Living Institute to lose 40 lbs. While this was great for my health and helped me get off diabetic medications, it would later cause other stress in my life.
A month ago, a fire caused severe smoke damage and destroyed my suit collection. Leading me to have to partake in the absurd festivities of Black Friday shopping at Tysons Corner. As I walked into Bloomingdales, I was delighted to see blue pin stripe Canali suits on a one-day sale for 40 % off. I went through their entire stock looking for my 48-long size. When I could not find it, I went to the manager asking him to look for any in stock.
I was curtly told that Canali does not make large or long fitting suits. I replied I had Canali suits that matched my body type and they were long fitting. The next response back was Bloomindales only keeps ‘regular’ Canali size suits and 46 was the largest size they had. I felt horrible experiencing such discrimination. I mean I took care of so many people, I paid my taxes, and fed my family. How was I not considered ‘regular’? I was anxious buying a new brand as I did not want to disappoint my patients with outfits they were not used to.
The Emporio Armani sales rep on site approached me and explained he had the same problem with his 46 chest and short arms in finding suits. Long or short arms, both were discriminated against. Luckily the day was saved by Nordstrom who had just one Canali suit in their entire stock that fitted. This required me to buy Hart Schaffner and Marks(HSM) suits to replace the rest of my damaged suits. Thankfully the newer HMS trousers did not fall to the ground when I put them on, but they still had to be tailored in to fit. Whilst the Canali had a hand and glove fit straight out of the store.
As I talked to my patients about my suit shopping many others expressed facing the same discrimination at Bloomingdales, Men’s Wearhouse and other stores. While this did make me feel less targeted, the discrimination needs to be addressed. It hurt me and I’m sure it hurts others. This pain has led me to write this blog post to raise awareness of the struggles many men go through in the dressing room.