Fat reproductive justice: Navigating the boundaries of reproductive health care
We explored the experiences of people in larger bodies seeking fertility and/or pregnancy care through a reproductive justice lens, integrating an understanding of weight stigma with an understanding of who has access to reproductive technologies, who is “allowed” to become pregnant, and the discourses that surround pregnancy. We conducted a thematic analysis of the narratives of 17 participants who had been labelled “overweight” or “obese” while pregnant and/or seeking reproductive healthcare related to fertility and/or pregnancy. Participants’ narratives speak to experiences of being surveilled and controlled in medical settings; this surveillance and control negatively impacted their access to desired care. In order to receive the kinds of care they wanted, many participants had to become self-advocates. This self-advocacy speaks to resistance and “resilience”; we discuss how individualizing “resilience” represents an incomplete solution to navigating the shaming and blaming encounters participants experienced with healthcare providers. We argue for healthcare that is more caring and responsive to the needs of diverse individuals who are or who are seeking to become pregnant.