Chrystal Bougon cried after the needle went into her arm. Not because her first dose of the Moderna vaccine hurt. But because, finally, being fat actually paid off.
The 53-year-old was inoculated in the parking lot of Kaiser Permanente in San José on a rainy Friday in March, four days after eligibility in California was broadened to include people with underlying conditions. Among them, a body mass index of 40 or more — 233 pounds for an adult who is 5 feet 4 inches tall.
Bougon’s medical record at Kaiser shows she is morbidly obese; as an activist, she prefers the word “fat.” Her experience with medical providers has been one incident of size stigma after another, she said, like the time she went in with a scratched cornea and was told to lose weight. She fears being hospitalized with COVID-19 and unable to advocate for herself.
“For that reason I decided, you know what, I’m not going to feel guilty about [being vaccinated]. I’m going to do it,” she said. “And I’m not going to apologize for it. I’ve been in fear the whole flipping time, staying home, avoiding everybody. I couldn’t do my job. I’m an electrologist. I remove facial hair. I couldn’t come to work. I couldn’t make money.”
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