I lost a few pounds over the last few weeks and was very proud of myself. Then I checked out my weight on one of those online BMI calculators and I got this nasty message:
Your BMI is 25.4. This BMI indicates you are overweight. There is an increased risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers with a BMI in this range. Losing weight is beneficial and can be achieved through healthy eating and being active daily. It is a good idea to set a realistic target of amount of weight you would like to lose over a number of weeks. If you are muscular as a result of a lot of sport you don’t need to lose weight.
OK, that sounded like there was hope for me at the end. Am I muscular from playing a lot of sport? Is gardening a sport? Does golf count?
So I looked further into these BMI thingy’s. On a US medical website I learned that my weight is actually in the “Normal” range.
Normal hell! Look at that statistic at the end. My weight is in the 32nd percentile for my age and height, IN AMERICA.
For those who don’t dabble in statistics allow me to explain. If I live in the USA 68% of my peers are heavier than I am. That makes me feel positively skinny. And there is the worry.
When the societal norm is obesity, overweight seems slim.
Truth is, I am overweight. I have to lose a few more pounds. In Ireland I “feel” fat. That puts positive pressure on me to watch my weight. If I lived in the USA I would not have that positive pressure. I would probably be half a stone heavier. I would probably suffer from high blood pressure. Chances are I would be taking drugs to control my blood pressure.
There is a lesson here for overweight people. If you really want to lose weight, move to a land of slim people.
According to Suzie Orbach “Fat is a feminist issue”. Suzie was instrumental in developing the psychology that led to the fabulous Dove advertising campaigns. Fat is an issue that defines how many women see themselves, it affects their self-confidence, and how they interact with the world.
There is a growing movement amongst young (at heart) women who reject being thin in favour of being fit. Advertisers are no longer afraid to show women sweating when they work out. Cross-fit gyms have embraced this new culture by removing mirrors from their gyms. It’s about the work, the discipline, the muscular integrity. It is about looking good because you worked to look good. It is about looking good to feel good about yourself, not to be an accessory to a man.
But there’s more. In the USA in the 20th century one of the key photo opportunities used by US electoral candidates was the shot of them emerging from church/temple on the Sabbath with the family. This said everything about strong morality, ethics, conservatism, family values, hetrosexuality, Mom, apple pie and the USA, without ever having to say a word to the waiting press. Today the goalposts have shifted. The modern electoral candidate must demonstrate personal strength of character by displaying a fit body. The president of the USA cannot be a fat guy. Fat people can’t control their own appetites. What hope do they have of controlling the nation?
In modern society to be fit to rule you must be fit to run for office, and to do that you must be fit to run down the road.