Monday, April 25, 2011

Does fat mean unhealthy?

Last week, this article was shared by CurvyGirlTweets (which I actually missed, so a big thanks goes to my friend Sassy Singleton for retweeting).

The article is about plus-sized fashion models, who have become more of a main-stay in the fashion world in the last few years.You can read the whole article, but in a nutshell, it quotes two Italian doctors as saying:
To promote chubby fashion models when obesity is one of the major problems of industrialized countries seems to be a paradox.
I think Sassy said it best in her retweet: Are you f***ing kidding me?

He does not need this pressure.
I suppose, in a way, I get what they're saying. It's not a good idea to glorify any unhealthy lifestyle, especially when your audience includes impressionable young women.

But in order to achieve the look of some runway models, young girls engage in behavior that's just as unhealthy as being overweight. Anorexia and bulimia are every bit as detrimental.

So why are they viewed as less of an issue? Let's be honest - it has exactly zero to do with health.

Most plus-sized models are not unhealthy, and certainly not obese. They're taller (like most models) and have a bigger frame, and therefore their ideal weight (and dress size) is higher. In today's world, "plus" often starts at size 14, sometimes even 12. Many women will tell you they'd love to fit into those sizes. (According to just about every google result I found, 12 is the average in the US.)

Plus size models are well proportioned. Their hips, waist and bust may all be bigger, but they're not carrying extra weight. Which is perfectly healthy - and, many men will tell you, very attractive.

So if there's no real health issue with promoting this body-type, then what's the problem? Why do people still have an issue with overweight versus underweight?

Call her fat. I dare you.
Ignorance. We've been conditioned to believe that heavy = ugly. It must also mean that you're lazy, you're unfit and therefore boring, you don't care about yourself, and you're over-indulgent.

None of that is true. I call myself curvy or chubby, because it's honest. The truth is, my body is programmed not to lose weight. Could I if I tried? Maybe. I have in the past - though the only time I ever got below a size 12, it was in the most unhealthy way. When I stick to proper eating and exercise habits, the lowest I've gotten was a size 14 - and that was in my twenties. Now, I'm a 30-something who's never had a baby - something my body is designed to do - so my hips and waist, in particular, resist any weight-loss effort.

The real health issue we face is looking to anyone else for our ideal body type. Everyone is different, and the ideal for one person is not the same as the next. Labeling one person as the "goal" is where the problem starts. Chances are, you won't measure up. Once that happens, your self-esteem takes a hit - and then what? You either embrace an unhealthy lifestyle in order to achieve your goal - or you give up, stop caring and stop taking care of yourself.

We shouldn't have to choose between mental and physical health. Both are achievable.

The real goal should be to define what you want to be. What's healthy, and right, for you? How do you go about getting there? Then set about doing that. Stop comparing yourself to others. Find, and live up to, your own style and show off your own best features.

Be your best; and be happy with who you are. If we all did that, the world would be a much healthier place.


  1. Well said. I have come to accept that I'll never be smaller than a 12 and that's ok.

    I was smaller once (at a 10) and it was so gross I don't ever want to be there again.

  2. Thanks! That's the trick - figure out how you look your best, and what's healthy for you - then do that.

  3. Can I get an Amen!!

    I'm fluctuating somewhere between a 10 and a 12 right now. I'm just trying to find my confidence. I know it's in there somewhere.

  4. All I want is to get rid of my baby fat. 3 years carrying it is too long. I am short and I have small bones and hips. My ideal size is an 8. I have 10 lbs of pure gut baby fat left to loose. I'm currently in a ten and my body looks okay save for my tummy. There is one person who thinks I should be in a 6; but when I look back at those pictures (4-6) size, I look skinny and gross, I'll stay at an 8.

  5. This is an excellent post. I can relate completely. In order to meet the media's standards, I would have to exercise non-stop for about 6 hours each day and consume no more than 500 calories. That's how it was, even in my teens and early 20's.

    I have a friend who appears to be "overweight," but she has conquered several of the Adirondack High Peaks during the winter. She goes snowshoeing and ice climbing. She was thinner when she was younger, but she feels as though she's in the best shape of her life now.

  6. RozInCP - That's exactly it! I'd have to eat around 700-800 (with no fat) and exercise for hours each day in order to achieve (and maintain) what people consider "fit."

    If I did that, I might get thin - but I'd be so depressed and tired all the time, it wouldn't even be worth the effort.

    I'm not in the best shape, but am quickly learning that getting fit is not the same as getting thin. And for the first time - I think I'm going about it properly.

    Your friend sounds like my goal - good for her!!

  7. It's nice to see an article like this in a world full of anti-plus sizes. I noticed a lot of people try to treat plus sized people as if they're not human. As a healthy plus sized woman, I find that more than offensive. I'm not sickly. I'm still human. And I can't help it if I have bigger hips than Paris Hilton. I think the modern world has just idealized thinness so much that it's become an obsession.Personally, I like being plus sized. I guess I just wish other people would accept that.