Before fitness fanatics, diet gurus and outraged lunatics on the internet start screaming at me, just HOLD YOUR HORSES.
I’m perfectly aware that, given our height and age, yes, there is an ideal healthy weight for each of us. I understand that, I get that, I agree with that. For our bodies to function at their absolute best, sure, figuring out a healthy weight plays a part.
But the real issue here is that, with nothing more than a look, people feel they can decide if someone is fat or thin and, in turn, determine their health.
That’s really, truly not the case.
More specifically, people will take one look at a bigger person and decide that they are definitely, undoubtedly, positively unhealthy. Full stop, no questions asked. If you’re overweight, you can’t be healthy.
Again, I completely understand and accept that being overweight can put physical strain on our bodies – as can doing shots of vodka until we black out, chain smoking Mayfairs and not peeing after sex. We’re all agreed there, I’m sure.
But the problem is our perception when it comes to body weight and what that means in terms of health. If you see a fat person and think, “Wow, they must be grossly unhealthy to be that size!” you might be right. Might be.
But what about when you see a slim person? Do you ever think about their health? When you see someone looking like Kate Moss in the ’90s, do thoughts about how healthy they are even cross your mind? No. Probably not.
The issue here is the assumption that size must ALWAYS equal health and how our perception is that big people = unhealthy and slim people = healthy. That’s simply not true.
Of course there are overweight people who are unhealthy and slim people who are healthy, but you can’t know these things. Take me, for example. I’m somewhere in the middle – definitely not slim, on the bigger side of the scale but not really “large”. I don’t struggle to find clothes on the high street, put it that way (and yes, there are plenty of high street shops that don’t stock over a size 18 and leave many women at a loss – but that’s another issue for another time!).
I’m not particularly active. I don’t really exercise much, I sit on my arse all day at work and I’d quite happily mooch around at home doing absolutely zilch in my downtime – not very healthy, right? When it comes to food, I don’t eat meat, make lots of fresh, home-cooked meals and vegetables make up a huge portion of my diet, but I also would like to be drip-fed chocolate and can consume an entire large pizza like no-one’s business. In my case, my weight probably does reflect my health – not great, but not the worst.
But I know people the same size as me who run every week, are regular gym-goers and climb mountains on their days off. I also know people much smaller than me who basically live off McDonald’s, act like they’re allergic to exercise and would snort sugar like cocaine if they could.
Is that healthy? No, obviously not. But it’s funny how people only seem to pipe up about someone’s health if the person in question is – you guessed it – fat. It’s like you’re allowed to eat all the junk food in the world and be as lazy as you want, as long as you stay thin while you do it.
The point is, you just don’t know. People of any size can be unhealthy, and in lots of different ways too. It comes down to so many things, not just fat or thin. Our weight isn’t the only determining factor in our health.
So, until you do know, please don’t comment on whether you think someone is or isn’t a “healthy weight”. In fact, unless you’re a healthcare professional, don’t do at all, because commenting on someone’s weight is just a pretty shitty thing to do.