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A short rant on obesity and society

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
<Moderators, if this is the wrong forum, please move this thread!>

I am obese, by anyone?s definition? I am 5?4? tall, and weigh 187 lbs with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 32. I am not posting my stats so anyone will feel sorry for me, but to give you an idea of how far I have come. When I started dealing with my weight and food issues, I weighed 240 lbs and had a BMI of 41. That was eight months ago, and I still have around 57 lbs to lose before I will be at a proper weight for my bone structure and height.

I am frustrated, to the point of obsession, with those who think they are overweight when they are not. In my mind, I know that everyone?s definition of overweight is different. I also realize that a person who believes they should lose five pounds can be as obsessive about it as those of us who have more to lose. I am sick and tired of hearing from women (some of whom I work with, some of whom are friends or family) complaining when they are 5?6? and weight 130 lbs. That?s a BMI of 21. Any lower, and they could become underweight. Why aren?t they satisfied? Who helped them create their idea of an ideal body? Whose fault is it? I often wonder whom to blame for this image we have of ourselves ? the media? The modeling industry? Our parents, for not teaching us how to deal with food in a healthy way?

An entire weight loss industry has sprung up from our obsession with weight. Diet pills, fat-free and sugar-free foods, herbal ?supplements? that purport to block fat. We have carb free diets, sugar free diets, and diets based on eating all the cabbage soup you want all the time. We have weight loss gurus telling us what we should be doing, what we should think, and how we should think it. The thing that disgusts me most is that the majority of people using these products, going to these meetings, or eating only bananas because of reading the latest book ARE NOT OVERWEIGHT.

Scientifically speaking, in order to be considered overweight, one must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than 25. To be considered obese, one?s BMI must exceed 30. There is a simple formula, for anyone who is interested, to calculate BMI. Take your weight in pounds and convert it to kilograms (divide by 39.37). Then, take your height in inches and convert it to meters (multiply it by 2.2). Divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared, and you will have your BMI (kg/m2 = BMI).

IMHO, if you do the calculation and come up with a number that?s 25 or less, pat yourself on the back and continue on your way. If your number is higher, make a decision whether you want to do anything about it. Choosing to lose weight is a personal journey and should be done FOR YOU. Not for your partner. Not for your children. Not for your friends. If you are happy, then move on with your life and enjoy it. You should not let society dictate how you should live your life. This is the exact reason I struggled with weight for almost nine years before finally succeeding.

Just my $0.02, your mileage may vary.


edited to correct formula
post #2 of 18
I agree with you. I went to weight watchers when I was 21. I'm 5'7'' and I was 125 lbs. Can you believe that WW took me. They didn't say that I was already thin enough. That makes me mad. But, I thought I was fat because I worked as a model, and the photographers kept telling me I needed to be 110 lbs. And I believed them. Argggg!

So, I think girls today ( and women) need to know what is a normal weight. Not the weight of some movie star. And most importantly we need to love ourselves as we are. Why Oh Why do we let others tell us what we should look like, or who we should be.

Thank you veggiewolf!
post #3 of 18
It's terrible- the messages of being thin, the pressure on young girls...
I have always been thin, but still fell prey to the obsessions.. I became bulemic in my teens and battled w/ it for many years. I would deprive myself food, take diet pills, I did speed, lived on cofee, etc... I became very ill and weak...
It's so unhealthy, as a cultyre, to allow these standards and pressures to be stick thin to continue!
post #4 of 18
As an obese woman myself (BMI of 41), I totally agree with you veggiewolf! So many thin women really have a warped view of what a healthy body weight is.

I also wanted to congratulate you on your weight loss! What an accomplishment!

By the way, I think you mixed up the height and weight conversions in your BMI equation. I know that there are 2.2 centimeters to an inch, so I should multiply my height by 2.2, not my weight. No matter how I did the calculations, though, I could not come up with the right number, so I searched on-line and found an easy calculator instead. Here it is for anywone who wants to know what their BMI is. BMI calculator

post #5 of 18
I'm a little over three months postpartum, and I still weigh more than I ever have before. This is what I have learned: I was an idiot. I looked fine, my weight was fine, my tummy was wonderful, and my ass was precious. God knows if I'll ever have a precious ass again, but I do know that I won't ever whine about being fat whilst slipping into a pair of size 10 jeans, or get neurotic about the curve of my tummy being noticable. I can't believe I didn't wear a bathing suit for years, even though I love being in the water.

Now I want to say to my former self: shut up. Just shut up, and go out and be voluptuous and sexy, becuase the time will come when your stomach is striped with stretch marks, when your lovely boobs and precious ass will sag, when you will wear your 240 pound husband's clothes because none of the pretty things you once paraded around in will fit. Shut up and parade. Wear a bathing suit and go to the beach. No one except you expects you to look like Rebecca Romajn Stamos.

Speaking as the formerly young me, forgive the women and girls who complain about being fat without actually being fat. They see themselves in a funhouse mirror, their hips warped and bulged, their arms wiggly, their chins almost imperceptibly doubled.

Fashion mags have just gotten worse, and with the miracles of digital alteration, legs have gotten longer and spindlier -- like alien legs. Moles (aside from Ms. Crawford's lovely trademark) are vanished, freckles defeated, cellulite is unheard of, and most definitely unseen. Meanwhile, on the facing page, we are presented with articles about loving ourselves the way we are (hugs from the editor! how precious!). On the next page is the two week miracle crash diet. On the next page is an artcle about breast cancer. On the next a model wears size negative 8 pants and sucks on a cigarette. On the next is an ad for McDonalds, followed by a recipe for double chocolate fudge marshmallow butterscotch cream cheese cake, followed by an exercise move that'll get you in shape for summer in ten days! Really, ten days of exercise and two weeks of eating raw celery and nonfat cottage cheese will entitle you to that cheese cake and the McDonalds and you'll be ready to put on that swimsuit! (Somewhere in the issue is something about bargain designer clothes for only 280 bucks an outfit! Only 280 bucks! That's like, pocket change!)

Am I ranting? Sorry! I get carried away. My size 18 non-precious ass has to go eat raw celery and do some Miracle Squats now. Summer is almost here, and since I can find a Prada skirt that will be out of fashion by the time the milk in my fridge sours for just barely three hundred dollars, I better get enough squats in to wear a size Prada actually makes (2,4, or 6)...


ps - did I mention that I really love myself the way I am? really! I'm smiling as I choke down this cottage cheese! Smiling!
post #6 of 18
did the bmi thing, boy was that depressing....but hey, i still like myself and think i look ok most of the time!
post #7 of 18
Thanks for the awesome post, April! I hear you loud and clear and could not agree more. Personally, I have a BMI of 42 and am very happy with my body and shape. Healthy is not the same as slim, y'know.

Oh, and congrats on your healthy weight loss!
post #8 of 18
This is a great topic, veggiewolf. First of all, I think you've done a great job successfully losing weight like that. Next, I think it is incredibly insensitive for people who are not overweight to gripe about how "fat" they are.

I am not overweight, but I felt like I was fat starting at a very early age. I remember being so young that when I sat in the back seat of the car, my legs stuck straight out in front of me, my knees didn't even reach the bend in the seat--and I looked at my little calves, kind of spread out from being pressed against the seat and I thought "I'm fat!" And that was the beginning of diets, refusing desserts, etc. On that car trip when I first decided I was fat, we were on our way to my Grandma's house to celebrate someone's birthday. I refused to eat any cake. I think I was 4 years old. Anyway, I look at pictures of myself as a child and I wasn't even close to being overweight. So why the obsession?

First of all, my father was obsessed with his appearance and with weight. My siblings and I could hardly eat anything without a warning of "Too much of that will make you fat." Secondly, we had an idiotic pediatrician, who would tell me when I was getting weighed "Your weight is normal, but watch out--don't gain any more or you'll be overweight." Naturally, with all the dieting and food obsessing, I gradually got heavier and was officially overweight by the time I was 16. My father was so mean to me! He would tell me I was fat or drop hints: "Why don't you go out and ride your bike around the block a few times?" During the summer, my mom would make me get up at 6:00AM so that we could do "The 20 Minute Workout" together. (Anyone remember that?)

Finally, during my senior year in hs, I decided that diets were useless and I gave up on them. This was the first step on the road to attaining a healthy weight. I started riding my bike to school (5 miles each way) and to my job. When I look at pictures of myself at hs graduation, I look only slightly overweight. In college I started running, and did crew. I was in fabulous shape, but I was unhappy with my weight--certainly because of the unhealthy ideals placed on me in my childhood. Since then, my weight has fluctuated because of my pregnancies. Because of the way my father treated me (and still treats me--see my "My Father is poisonous" thread in TAO), I have issues with my appearance. I'm trying to overcome them, and I DON'T go around in public moaning that I'm "so fat." Anyway, I know I'm not overweight, and I know lots of overweight people who look great and are comfortable with their bodies. I wish I could be that comfortable with my own body.
post #9 of 18
Ditto most of what Daylily said. I was a skinny kid, but I remember being told when I was about 8 that I was actually fatter than my rather overweight sister, she just "had bigger bones". I've had a warped sense of body size since then.
post #10 of 18
Please don't take BMI's to heart! They are not the perfect tool that they are alleged to be. In all reality they have just as many problems as the old insurance charts.

According to the BMI, I am underweight and have a BMI of 19.9, but one would never look at me, and think that!LOL I don't know too many underweight people who wear a size 10 ;-)

Just like my BMI is innaccurate, many people's are too, either high or low....... charts simply do not take into account body type, bone and muscle density, etc. Instead, look at yourself and determine if you are happy with what you see. Make your determinations on that.
post #11 of 18
sorry, should have read BMI of 19.2 . Serves me for not proofreading!
post #12 of 18
A buddy of mine IRL (earthymama on here) gave me an awesome book to read called "No Fat Chicks-how big business profits by making women hate their bodies-and how to fight back" by Terry Poulton.This book ROCKS!!! The stats in it will just blow your mind.
post #13 of 18
Just to illuminate how very widespread female body image perception problems are...

When I was in high school, I actually felt there was something wrong with ME because I was was happy with the way my body was. I was a healthy weight for my height and age, as were MOST of the girls I knew. However, many of them also were obsessed with dieting and losing weight. Looking backwards, I realize that some of them probably had eating disorders. But getting back to my point, I would sometimes feel alone in that I wasn't concerned with how many calories were in that diet soda. I wasn't even DRINKING diet soda! And I wasn't concerned about losing enough weight to look great in my bikini next summer. I remember how my high school boyfriend once told me I had "fat little feet!" He said a few other unkind and unthoughtful things like that too, as related to my body/weight. I feel so thankful that none of that, either from him or from society and the media, rubbed off on me and gave me an unhealthy body image. It makes me realize how easily a girl could become a victim. I plan to place a high priority on protecting my daughter from the warped messages about the healthy female body that will no doubt come at her from all directions.
post #14 of 18
I am obese - and I don't need to know my BMI to know - I'm about 90 kilos and 5ft. 1 in.(156cm?). Oddly enough, what surprises me is how people actually listen to me and seem to respect me, while looking at this fat body. I was a dancer, healthy and lean. I was never thin, but my skinny sister was always standing in front of the mirror saying how fat she was - which always made me feel fat in comparison. I am always shocked when I see my reflection, and have a hard time respecting myself. I don't blame the society, or the industry, I just blame myself and wonder when this phase is going to be over. I wonder when I'm going to have the energy/self discipline/ whatever - until I can shed these pounds for good. I try not to diet because I think until I get myself straightened out no diet will work for long.
post #15 of 18
Wanna talk about sad??? I own a ladies boutique I have alot of tiny customers (0-6) And they all think they need to lose weight. They will put on a pair of pants and stand in fron t of the mirror and say my a** is sooo big! And they say this in front of me, size 14...
Just wanted to add to the rant , thanks...
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

thanks, guys

Dash's mom, I corrected the formula, and thanks for the link to the calculator.

I am continually amazed by the discrimination against women based on body size and, as I lose weight, I find myself struggling with it. even thought I am losing because I was unhappy at 240, I wonder if I am giving in to society's pressures to be thin. Then, I wonder about the feminism of it all (read Fat Is a Feminist Issue sometime - your brain will go off on all sorts of tangents).

I'm also looking for ways to help combat the prejudice against those of us who are overweight, but I wonder if it's harder to do so as I drop pounds.

No, BMI is not a perfect tool, and one should always remember that. It is, however, a more useful tool than simply looking at the scale. Obviously a 6' woman can carry 188 pounds much better than I can at 5'4".

Thanks for reminding me that I'm not the only one who feels this way,

post #17 of 18
great topic....

in my life, the women i know who have obsessive tendencies toward food and bodies are all very thin! some of my friends with the highest self confidence (and who look most fabulous) are what our warped US society would consider overweight.

i have always been what i feel to be middle sized to thin (about a size 10 my whole life). after the births of each of my 3 kids, i spent about a year being a good 25 lbs over my normal weight. it was an eye opener, i did not enjoy it, but it taught me to appreciate the body i had, when so many times before i had kids i thought i was sort of chubby... crazy! after babe #3 i am within 5 lbs of my prepreg weight, and feel great. i am 32, have had 3 babies, and i look it! and that is beautifull
post #18 of 18
I'm preggo now, but have never been overweight. Somehow I've managed never to obsess over 5 lbs up and down. Now however, I'm feeling very obsessed and pressured with diet and exercise for health. I'm worried that if I don't start doing lots more exercise and eating much less fat, within a year after this pregnancy, that I'll suddenly find myself at menopause with early heart disease and type II diabetes.
Is this the type of food/exercise obsession that kicks in when society can't make you feel guilty for every last inch and curve?
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