Back in the 19th century, a statistician named Adolphe Quetelet devised a chart which measured a person’s body shape based upon their height and weight, known today as ‘BMI’ (body mass index). The calculations are worked out by dividing an individual’s weight (mass) by the square of their height, and since the early 1970’s this scale has been used by physicians and dietitians worldwide to judge whether a patient should be considered ‘over weight’ or not.
This seemingly odd way of determining someone’s healthy shape and size has been taken as gospel in Britain especially, where obesity (while allegedly on the rise) is considered intolerable by those ranging from the health industry and media, to the fashion trade, and school playground, creating and fueling the bullies of the future, who have become intent on setting unrealistic standards of what they consider an acceptable weight/physical appearance to be.
But this unhealthy and somewhat cruel attitude of many British people is now spreading like a pandemic, with Japan recently making it illegal to be ‘obese’ – a word which can actually describe an otherwise very healthy person if it weren’t for the infamous BMI guidelines being followed by so many.
The well-known adage, “muscle weighs more than fat” is often misunderstood in its meaning. In layman’s terms, if you put two identical chairs side by side, and place 100 lb of fat on one, and 100 lb of muscle on the other, the fat is obviously going to take up more room than the muscle, because you need more of it to achieve the same weight/mass. So two people can be the exact same height and weigh exactly the same in weight, but one is fat, and the other is muscly – yet both would be considered ‘obese’ according to the BMI charts used today.
The Brits have been sizeist for decades, and the recent shocking revelation made by Mark Jeffries of Abercrombie and Fitch came as no surprise to those living in the UK, as this is a common prejudice that people are faced with on a daily basis there. Unlike in the States, anyone above a certain clothing size would be hard pushed to find anywhere that caters to ‘plus’ sized customers, and many stores are well known to focus solely on the ‘skinny minny’ sizes so blatantly favored by fashion magazines, TV, and other impressionable sources, creating a huge impact on young people who are programmed to believe that they must be thin to be popular.
And sadly, in the UK especially, this is uncomfortably close to the truth, as more and more employers have admitted to recruiting slim people over their plus-sized counterparts, believing the concept that an overweight person is unintelligent, lazy, and greedy.
Government health campaigns, as well as those headed by well-known personalities such as chef Jamie Oliver, have been established in the hope of educating people about their diets – particularly those of school children. But perhaps acceptance should also be taught by those implementing the whole ‘fat is bad, thin is good’ stigma, along with a more realistic view of what is considered aesthetically pleasing. Maybe then there wouldn’t be such a huge rise in cases of anorexia and bulimia in teenagers the world over.