I’m really sick of hearing people saying things like, “If so-and-so knew what she was doing to her health, she would just stop eating and start exercising.” Or, “Why can’t so-and-so stop eating?” Or even, “So-and-so is setting such a bad example for her children!”
Let’s set the record straight about fat women — because body shaming people who are overweight or obese doesn’t help anyone.
This is especially important considering that the link between Body Mass Index (BMI) and health is unclear at best. In fact, BMI measurements were never intended to be used by doctors the way it is today.
“The person who dreamed up the BMI said explicitly that it could not and should not be used to indicate the level of fatness in an individual,” writes Keith Devlin, Director of the Stanford Mathematics Outreach Project in the Graduate School of Education.
Even if you’re not convinced BMI is a faulty measurement, there are plenty of other myths about obesity and fat women worth considering in a new light.
Here are 5 common fat shaming things people say about obese women, and the actual facts about what’s true.
Myth #1: Fat women should be educated on how to eat better.
Popular society is constantly reinforcing being a woman of size is undesirable, many women of size have a Ph.D.-worth of knowledge of food, calorie intake, and exercise. When you are an obese woman, you are reminded of it constantly.
Your doctors tell you any ailment will be solved with exercise and proper diet. Sometimes people yell shitty things at you in the street. Friends often try to be “helpful” by giving you pointers on diets.
Trust me, a woman who has been dealing with obesity knows more than her doctor does about nutrition, so having information and knowledge about calories, carbs, fat, etc. isn’t what she needs more of.
Myth #2: Fat women should just get to the gym and exercise.
First off, there is such a thing as being fit and fat.
The Health at Every Size movement aims to remind us it’s okay to stop focusing on weight loss and let yourself be healthy first and foremost. Many women of size are fit and do exercise often.
Why don’t you see many fat people at the gym or out jogging? Gee, I don’t know, maybe some people don’t like being fat-shamed.
Saying things like, “Hey buddy! Good job! You’re doing great!” or even “You go, girl!” are not helpful.
Myth #3: Fat women are “easy.”
This is disgusting. I take a lot of issue with any woman no matter what her size being called promiscuous or anything like that.
Why does that idea persist? I don’t know. But I want to go on record saying that a woman of size has as much discretion and intelligence as a skinny woman.
Most women want to find a kind, loving partner to be with. There are no statistics available that prove obese women are more promiscuous than smaller women.
Myth #4: Fat women are setting terrible examples for their children.
Being self-hating, self-berating, and self-critical is setting a poor example for your children. A mother doesn’t have to be obese to do that.
Making an effort to love yourself and love your children exactly how they are — regardless of body shape or size — is a great example to set.
When you love yourself, you take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean being skinny. It means eating lots of healthy food often and less healthy food in moderation. It means exercising in ways that work for your body and being kind to yourself both physically and psychologically.
Myth #5: Fat women are de facto unhealthy.
You can’t judge how healthy someone is by looking at them or weighing them. Blood tests, energy levels and quality of life is a better indicator or health.
One study found that “elevations in metabolic risk factors are much more strongly associated with mortality risk than obesity.”
That is to say, regardless of your weight, those blood tests and other objective measures of health are much more telling about your risk of death than your BMI.
Next time you decide to body shame someone for being plus size keep these myths in mind. Sometimes there is more to meet the eye.
Previously posted on Your Tango