crop kid weighing on scale

Let’s Talk about our Obsession with Weight

There are people at work who exasperate you with their stupidity, there are people at work whom you love, and there’s always, always that one woman who counts calories and wants the world to know it. Recently, a woman at work and I were talking about cake. Seems innocent enough. Cake is delicious and is usually brought out to celebrate, so what could be the problem? She was wondering why I didn’t head into the lunch room to grab a slice of cake. I stated a simple ‘not wanting anything sweet right now’, hoping that would be enough. It wasn’t. Obviously. This is a work place and even throughout a pandemic, people are continuously forcing cake onto you, and wondering just what in the fuck you’re thinking not taking any.

I went through my whole spiel on how I’m not having any because sugar is a huge cause of my migraines, so I try to cut down on all junk foods. She then launched into how she has cut out breads and sugars from her entire life and now cannot eat her yogurt and berries tonight because she had a slice of cake today. Let’s ignore the part about her not being able to eat plain yogurt with berries for a minute, just because she ate some cake. It’s absolutely ridiculous, since berries and yogurt, if not loaded with sugar, are actually very good for you, but not the point that is most annoying.

The part that really stuck in my craw was the one that she’s often stressing out about: food. Or, rather, the idea that food is the enemy. Which, isn’t true as I’ve learned on my migraine journey. I’ve been using food to heal myself, instead of thinking of it as something to be angry with, to avoid. It’s change my whole viewpoint on certain foods and made me wonder how we fell down this rabbit hole of hating the very thing that fuels our bodies.

After she finished her spiel on how she constantly ‘falls off the wagon’ and is always losing and gaining that same 25 lbs over the years, I was ready to get back to my work. But, feeling like this was a teachable moment, I told her how I don’t cut anything completely out of my life and that’s how I’ve been able to eat far healthier than I ever have before without suddenly turning into an all-consuming monster of junk food and snacks for months on end. I’m no doctor, but I can guess the reason why she was constantly having trouble with her weight: starvation. I saw this woman, someone who is old enough to know better, bring an egg to work for lunch most days, then eating it in the morning because she skipped breakfast, then only to go out and buy lunch. Then, only to complain about how hungry and tired she was all the time and how she wasn’t losing the weight she wanted to.

Oh, really? I never would’ve guessed that working out obsessively and starving your body would lead someone to be tired and feel like absolute crap.

Until recently, this woman never stated she was doing any of the above to be healthy, but because she was fat. Don’t worry, she still thinks she’s a monster in size, but she’s just trying to be healthier this time around. This woman isn’t fat by any type of standard, except the own insanity in her own mind. I’m sure she was out of shape and not eating properly, but fat? Naw, we can’t state that. Instead of eating a balanced diet and exercising, she went full tilt, which always leads to rebounds. Rebounds happen. You call your ex. You can’t make it through Sober November. You eat an entire cake and then a whole sleeve of cookies after not eating any sweets for weeks. It happens.

Our obsession with how much we weigh, instead of how healthy we are, and our negative thoughts about ourselves, our physical appearances, has gotten out of hand. While #bodypositivity is trending and slowly changing the landscape, it’s still not enough. Mainly skinny women telling everyone to love the bodies they have, it’s more of a kick to the teeth than an emotional hug. Skinny women, of course, should be proud of their bodies, and they do receive a lot of flack for promoting body positivity, which isn’t fair. But, when all you see is someone in great — or relatively good — shape telling you that bodies are beautiful, it’s frustrating as all hell.

When these perfect looking models promote body positivity, they’re met with a lot of praise from most people. Yes, you should love your stretch marks! Yes, all scars are beautiful! Yes, cellulite and pimples happen! Except, flip this. Put a fat chick in there and the internet goes buck fucking wild. She’s promoting unhealthy choices. She hates skinny women. She’s telling girls that being fat is okay, even if you’re unhealthy.

Which is total, complete, bullshit.

Our weight doesn’t automatically mean that we are healthy or unhealthy. Let’s talk about BMI, something my co-worker also brought up in this talk that put me over the edge, shall we? Body Mass Index has been around for awhile and is a tool used to measure just how healthy or unhealthy you are. And, sure, if you’re weighing over 300 lbs, you’re most likely not doing too well health wise. But, there’s a HUGE but here…and maybe a huge butt…we’ve started to use this as a way to tout how healthy skinny bodies are.

Which, again, is total, complete, bullshit.

Skinny does not automatically mean healthy. I’ve got two examples where we can call bullshit on skinny equaling healthy. Let’s start with my father-in-law. Now, this man is hella healthy. He can outrun, outbike, outswim, out-fucking-anything-athletic me. Even if we swap my body out for the body I had when I was in tip top shape, he could still go toe-to-toe with me today. He is 40 years older (rockin’ his 70s). He eats incredibly well, and has for years. My husband complains about how they were forced to eat tofu for suppers, and rarely had boxed meals or sugary cereals. He looks like the poster-person for healthy living, right down to his skinny body. But…this man has extremely high cholesterol. So much so that he has specific plant steril margarine that he buys and avoids a lot of foods, or can only eat very little of them. Looking at him, you’d think ‘damn, this guy has to be as healthy as they come’, and he is for the most part. But, it’s not as eclipsing as everyone claims skinny people are/should be. I’m sure his BMI is perfect, although, I honestly can’t say I know for sure.

Let’s move onto my second example. Surprise! It’s me! Or, rather, high school me. I remember, quite distinctly, getting our BMI measured in high school. Thinking I was going to nail this, I didn’t bat an eye when the measurements were taken. I walked a lot, I went for runs, I played sports, I ate…okay. My parents fed me relatively healthy meals, also without boxed or sugary cereals most of the time, but I was 15, so McDonald’s was a delicious treat instead of a fail. The measurements were taken and I was declared…obese.

I almost cried. Maybe I did later, thinking about being shamed about my body, who can remember. I do remember feeling shamed that my BMI was too high and that I was considered obese. My stomach was flat, I was in incredible shape, what more could I do?

Fucking nothing.

Because BMI, and your weight, is complete bullshit as the sole indicator on whether or not you are a healthy human being.

Right now, I’m the largest I’ve been, give or take 5 lbs. I’m not obese by any true standards, I still fit a size 12 pants/dress, which doesn’t put me into the plus sized section, but I’m sure my BMI would be so high that doctors who only believe in such bullshit would faint. I also get some exercise (though I’m working on adding more to my routine. Turns out, you can’t just jump into high intensity cardio after years of 5-10+ migraines a month), I eat pretty fucking healthy, and have cut junk food out of my life. Not fully because I’m not a psycho, but I don’t eat a bag of chips to feel better, or nom on chocolate bars just because I’m bored, and I can say no to free cake at work just because I don’t feel like it anymore.

Right now, I feel healthy. I feel amazing. I feel the best I ever have. And yet, by society’s standards, I’m a fat piece of garbage that should be dying from health issues. Because of what I look like, what that scale is telling me. My neurologist once told me if I lost weight I could have less migraines. Well, I haven’t lost much weight and I’m having less migraines, so could it be that the actual weight — and not the healthy choices made — doesn’t 100% matter?

My step mother-in-law moved a scale into the cabin bathroom because she, apparently, wants us all to hate ourselve while we laze and hike and sun away our troubles at the lake. I made the mistake of stepping onto that scale one weekend and I’ve been horrified ever since. Horrified of a number that doesn’t mean much if my blood pressure is good, my heart is happy, my body is full of vitamins from healthy veggies and fruits, my brain feels great, and everything is working like it should. Yet, I feel like my body isn’t worthy of this amazing feeling because it’s chubby, it’s flabby in areas and just okay in others.

Let’s change the perception that fat people are unhealthy simply because they are fat. Let’s start talking about healthy choices, healthy foods, and exercise. Let’s put away the starvation diets, the cleanses, really, the anything diets. Let’s start loving our bodies and accepting their flaws with the good bits. Let’s start being nicer to ourselves and ignore what a number on a scale says. We’re better than that.

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