Humans don’t like it when their assumptions get rattled. If they handled it with aplomb, Galileo would not have been locked in a tower, the Inquisition wouldn’t have happened, and the 99 Theses would have been received with an invitation to discuss it over coffee. But that’s just not what happens. In other circles, there’s been a lot of “bad fattie, no doughnut!” talk that highlights how many people have drank the diet-industry Kool-Aid and are taking it for fact. The vast majority of studies concluding obesity is a death sentence are actively funded by the diet industry – and reported under the name of the university where the diet company hired its researchers. It’s a dirty practice. It also makes people of “normal” weight feel very superior. They LIKE feeling superior. They are NOT liking finding out that they’re wrong, and most are SHOCKED that the fat people are no longer hanging their heads and saying “I know, I know,” but are instead saying, quite justifiably, “IT’S MY BODY, I’m NOT harming you or “burdening the healthcare system”, FUCK OFF!”
So it is with the overarching assumption that people of size are automatically unhealthy. Some are – that’s undeniable. Some are not – and there’s incontrovertible proof of that, too.
Let’s begin with this simple quiz:
True of False: ALL BODIES ARE THE SAME.
The answer is false. While all carbon-based life forms have the same base needs, evolution makes DNA configure in many different ways in different people. Consequently, one person may need more protein, another more salt, another ridiculous amounts of exercise.
NOT ALL FAT PEOPLE ARE UNHEALTHY. NOT ALL THIN PEOPLE ARE UNHEALTHY. NOT ALL FAT PEOPLE ARE HEALTHY. NOT ALL FAT PEOPLE ARE UNHEALTHY.
As much as I find thinspiration blogs alarming, they are often honest in that their fear of fatness comes not from a desire for health, but from a desire to satisfy an aesthetic they did not define themselves. This aesthetic is taken by most people as an indicator of “health” when in fact that is NOT the information a person’s body relays. It’s the people that use the “fat is AUTOMATICALLY UNHEALTHY” people that are the ones that disturb me – especially since the ones that most want to “say something,” don’t feel the need to comment on a thinner person’s sudden strange need to scarf down nothing but burger and fries for months on end, usually dismissing that behavior as a “great metabolism” with a semi-conscious assumption that that person’s not going to bear any consequences for his/her choices. When that person later gets gall or kidney stones (a direct consequence of poor diet choices) because s/he is thin or develops gout, it’s generally just chalked up to “bad luck,” whereas a larger person immediately gets the lecture ABOUT the diet choices.
True or False: BMI IS AN ACCURATE MEASURE OF HEALTH AND FITNESS.
The answer is, incontrovertibly, FALSE. BMI is nothing more than a formula that measures weight against height. It does not take into account diet, fitness plans, blood pressure, muscle mass (the thing that makes BMI highly problematic, especially for athletes – especially women athletes,) lifestyle choices, or even lifestyle non-choices such as co-morbidities (multiple diseases) that can throw off a person’s digestive and hormonal system.
True or False: AN INACTIVE THIN PERSON IS HEALTHIER THAN AN ACTIVE FAT PERSON.
FALSE. One way or the other, our organs need the massage that exercise gives.
True or False: A FAT PERSON IS MORE LIKELY TO DIE THAN A THIN PERSON.
FALSE, and TRUE. A larger person is 20% more likely to die of UNTREATED cardiac issues/diabetes. This is a failure on the part of the healthcare system as it is to treat plus-size patients with dignity, and also a failure of plus-size people to go deal with the healthcare system that treats them like dirt.
However, a fat person is also MUCH more likely to survive cardiac surgery of any type – by a whopping 17%. The larger person also often recovers faster, too. The key word to consider is “untreated.” Lots of us fat people avoid doctors because the majority of doctors will ignore ALL other health complaints and focus solely on BMI – despite most knowing themselves that BMI is not accurate. The closest I’ve come to getting around those assumptions is going to one who specializes in sports medicine. He knows I have a football player in my genes, so he looks at my lab stats first.
Also, A LOW BMI DOES NOT MAKE YOU IMMUNE TO HEART DISEASE AND DIABETES. Being thin alone is NOT preventative medicine, and there are many, many cases of committed healthy people of all weights who STILL develop these diseases.
There IS a systemic problem with the American lifestyle that touches ALL weight classes. There is also a class system based on weight. Most people in the US need to walk more, need to reinvent the vegetable, and need to find time to integrate these choices into their lives. I still contend that the American corporate system as it typically operates actually steals the time necessary to make the most of the healthy choices they can – to exercise and eat properly takes time, habit, and a willingness to re-learn.
Sometimes a byproduct of those choices is weight loss. Sometimes, however, the weight stays on despite the efforts towards health. THAT you can’t possibly know by looking at someone. You can’t know that by seeing them eat one slice of pizza, or seeing them eat one saintly salad. Until you’re with a person on a regular basis, YOU SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW. Are you lecturing your thin person for the organ-damaging crap s/he eats, or are you simply envying his/her metabolism?