On body acceptance

I also blog a lot about body acceptance. It is not all happy-happy joy-joy. I get very angry at both sides of the debate on a regular basis, particularly the late-model feminists and the fat acceptance people. I think that both movements have lost sight of the fact that while anger is a great motivator, it's a shitty way to get what you want; and that if you try to build your constituent up by trying to trample other people down, you're no better than the wankers you're theoretically fighting against.

I have a lot of opinions on this stuff that piss a lot of people off something awful. I frankly don't care.

I do not believe in the philosophy Health At Every Size. I believe in health at most sizes. If your weight is preventing you from completing everyday tasks without assistance, I think that's justification enough for declaring that, medically speaking, there is something amiss. Note that this holds true whether you weigh too much or too little for your frame, and that, because it depends on how you're built and your overall body composition, I cannot give any specific range of numbers that I'd consider "healthy". Note also that I do not presume to know how you got that way -- for the purposes of deciding that something has gone awry with your body, it does not matter in the slightest whether your current weight is a result of your metabolism, your medications, your mental health, or just because you got on the wrong side of an evil Gypsy witch who decided you needed to be taught some sort of lesson.

I do, however, believe in respect at every size. Having more flesh does not make you less of a human being. Making moral judgements based strictly on weight is reprehensible and has no place in a civilized society, nor does making moral judgements based on what sort of physical features you happen to be attracted to. I make it a point to speak up against bullying and discrimination wherever it occurs, and this is no different.

I also think we could stand to see a wider range of shapes and sizes in our advertising and TV shows. The primary problem as I see it is not necessarily that the extremely thin women in the entertainment business already aren't beautiful to a significant subset of the population, but that there are a great many women who are considered beautiful in real life who are virtually never represented on-screen. Realistically, the human race will always consider some people to be physically attractive, and some people not -- the whole concept of beauty sort of rests on judging reproductive fitness of potential partners, and some will always look like 'better' mates than others. Rarity is also a factor; the more the average attractiveness of your population rises, the more of an outlier you need to be in order to get noticed. They seem to have scrounged together a lot of women who are almost all the same kind of rarity, though, which paradoxically enough makes them a dime a dozen. There would be a lot less to object to if they would just diversify a bit.

From a technical viewpoint, I think that using BMI as a gauge of overall health is a complete crock. I don't know how the Baby Jesus feels about all of this, but your science is making the Baby Pasteur cry. BMI is used as a statistical tool to collect information on the average body weight of a population in aggregate. It works for that because, even though it fails for people who are very short/tall or very fit/sedentary, it tends to fail in opposite directions for each member of those pairs. When applied to a large study population, the errors average out; when applied to a single person, they do not.

The idea of a "set point" is also egregiously misused most of the time. No one's body has a single set point weight -- your 'set point' is the weight your body settles on at a certain level of caloric intake and a certain level of activity. One woman might be a size 2 on 1500kcal and 90min of cardio a day, where another might settle nearer a size 6, or 8, or 10. Unless you are controlling for calories and activity, comparing 'set point' weights is meaningless. So, by extension, is the idea of framing a weight-loss plan in terms of calories and exercise needed to 'guarantee' a certain level of reduction -- no dietician can even guess at what your magic numbers would be without working with you personally and conducting a large number of expensive tests.

When I give sartorial advice, I refuse to tell people how to "conceal flaws". I can tell you how to help achieve the illusion of a certain silhouette, but which particular ones are fashionable change rapidly with the seasons, and to be honest, generally have very little to do with how bodies are actually shaped. It's largely a matter of scaffolding. If you ask me how to dress to cover up your thighs I'll probably ignore you; if you ask me how to use makeup to accentuate your eyes, I'll have about a million suggestions.


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