Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's not about my health!

Let's get one thing straight right now: Those people, you know the ones, the ones who ask you "Are you sure you should be eating that?", or push weight loss on you for the fourth, or 14th, or 40th, time, or throw you meaningful looks all through the day if you bring in the muffins you made the day before to work, they're not conserned about your health. No matter what they say to defend themselves. I'm not saying there aren't people who might be conserned about your health, in my life my mother is an example of this, but these people are the exception, not the norm.

I realized this as I was watching clips of Marianne Kirby's appearance on Nightline Face-Off's Is it okay to be fat? segment. The discussion there quickly turns to health, as it does, and we have many assurances from all the panelists, Marianne KirbyKim Bensen, MeMe Roth and Crystal Renn, that heath is, of course, the most important thing. (I personally believe in body autonomy, here meaning that you don't owe good health to anyone, but let's put that aside for now.) Now, MeMe Roth and Kim Bensen are adamant that weight is a good indicator of health, and to refute this Crystal Renn (among other things) tells the story of one of her model friends who exercise "constantly" who could "run circles around" her, and who eats "probably better" than she does, and is still a size 18. This, dear readers, is when the bells started going off in my head for the first time. Because if this is true (and nobody challenges that it is), wouldn't any reasonable person then concede; okay, maybe health can't be measured in weight?

This thought, coupled with further watching of the clips, prompted these thoughs: When being told too much focussing on weight leads to serious mental problems (including disordered eating), wouldn't any reasonable person recognize that as a legitimate problem and at least consider changing their rhetoric? And if nothing else, when being told putting negative focus on weight leads to fat shame, and that that leads to fat people's health worsening, wouldn't any reasonable person recognize that this may not be the way to go?

What really brought it home for me, you see, is when Crystal Renn talks of her anorexia, and how, now that she isn't suffering from it any longer, she has ended up at her natural weight at a size 12, wherein MeMe Roth interjects "But you're at a healthy weight." Because what if she wasn't at what MeMe Roth and the BMI charts consider a 'healthy weight'?! The indication is clear, if the BMI charts told us she was overweight or maybe even obese, then the advise from MeMe Roth would be for this woman who has struggled with anorexia to go on a diet to lose some weight.

I won't pretend to understand the reasons why people find it necessary to shame fat people, but one thing I now feel certain of: It's not about our health.


Weesha said...

I agree, it's hardly ever about weight. In my culture, it's considered normal to tell someone they need to lose weight. I've been told this by people who I've met for the first time and random hair dressers but I'm not really sure why they do it. I'm 100% sure they don't give a shit about my health, it's more to do with feeling better than someone I guess but again I'm not sure. I know we would never think we're entitled to advise someone to change their body, how the hell do they rationalize this in their heads?

Veronica said...

Exactly, these more-or-less strangers care about our health? I don't think so!
No, I can't wrap my head around it either.

Anonymous said...

Why do fat people make other people so uncomfortable? Do they think they can "catch it" from us??