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"Shutting Down Stigma: Reduce Fat Bias in the Treatment Room" by Cal Cates

Updated: Apr 3

The article "Shutting Down Stigma: Reduce Fat Bias in the Treatment Room" by Cal Cates in the Nov/Dec 2023 issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine addresses the prevalent issue of body size bias in the wellness industry. Cates discusses the American Medical Association's updated policy on using Body Mass Index (BMI) and emphasizes its limitations as a measure of individual health. The author encourages massage therapists to recognize and address their biases, refraining from making assumptions about clients based on body size. The importance of providing compassionate, trauma-informed care to individuals who have faced weight stigma is highlighted, emphasizing the need for ongoing education in creating an inclusive and supportive environment.

"While there is plenty of work to be done inside each of us, there are also practical things you can do now to shift your practice away from one of "average body" privilege.

  • Have furniture in your waiting and treatment rooms that is comfortable for patients in larger bodies.

  • Use appropriately sized equipment, including sheets that are large enough to comfortably cover larger bodies.

  • Choose reading materials that feature a variety of (rather than idealized) bodies and healthy lifestyles."

Want to better understand if you have bias related to weight? Take the Implicit Association Test (it's free!) at


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