….but we are all fabulous.
My height is 5’7.5″ and my weight is 13’0 so depending on whether I round up or down, my BMI either comes out at 27.6 or 28.5 (using the NHS BMI calculator). It doesn’t really matter, because either way I am overweight. Not by a lot – I have already lost over a stone in weight and losing a similar amount again would bring me into the healthy zone (ie a BMI between 18 and 25). But I AM overweight – this means I carry more fat that is good for me. I don’t need BMI to tell me this, my clothes size and a look in the mirror reveal the same. I’m not emotionally overwrought about this – I am happy with myself and my life and while I would like to lose more weight my self-worth is not dependent on my weight, which is as it should be.
“The Fat Woman” by Aubrey Beardsley, 1894
BUT and this is a big but (pun intended) whilst my weight is causing little if any emotional unhealthiness, it is contributing to physical unhealthiness. I find it harder to exercise – it is more work to carry extra weight and it puts more strain on your heart and joints. I have developed acid reflux and whilst healthy range and underweight people can also develop reflux, one of the risk factors is weight. Weight is also implicated in a range of longer term unhealthy outcomes from stroke to cancer.
So why is it that on two recent medical appointments, when I brought weight up as a possible issue, the clinicians both said, well yes, but I didn’t like to mention that! Given that one of those appointments was to talk about the reflux, this is a crazy state of affairs.
I understand we shouldn’t fat-shame, that is a no-brainer – no one should be made to feel bad because of how they look whether that’s size, shape, colour, dress sense or whatever. However it speaks volumes for how appearance obsessed our culture is that we aren’t allowed to talk about the health implications of being overweight whilst simultaneously we face an obesity epidemic which threatens to overwhelm health care resources. In August this year it was widely reported that there has been a 60% increase in the number of people with diabetes in the UK since 2005 – so that 3.3 million people now have the condition (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/diabetes-could-bankrupt-the-nhs-after-60-rise-in-number-of-cases-charity-warns-10458353.html).
We need to stop pussy footing round the subject and talk about fat and not in a sensationalist way. The media twist and distort and send mixed messages about celebrities who need to eat more one day then are looking a little overweight the next. Every year we see get thin fast, unhealthy and unrealistic ‘summer diets’ to get your body ‘beach ready’. These articles are a major source of public (dis)information and they probably serve to do little than inspire confusion, guilt and shame.
Whilst I don’t have the answer, it would be good if reliable, effective information was provided from school age upwards. It would probably help if our doctors could talk to us about it too.