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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Healthy and fat?

Can you be healthy and fat?

Well, Anisa Sims, a plus-sized model, says she's healthier at her current weight - a weight many would consider "fat", though I'm not one to judge - as opposed to when she was much thinner.  From an article at Glamour magazine's website:

Photo from Flickr, courtest of from daxnorman

I’m a size 12 to 14, and I’m fit, happy and healthy. I wasn’t always this way. In fact, the most unhealthy I’ve been was when I was 40 pounds lighter. My mom, Beverly Johnson, was the first black model on the cover of Vogue, and when I was a teenager, I decided I wanted to be a model too. So I starved myself, took laxatives and overexercised to fit into the clothes that models wear, and then signed with a major agency. People said I looked great, but I felt miserable because I was depriving my body of nutrients, and the more weight I lost, the more my self-esteem fell. Now I’m a plus-size model, and I’m the size I was meant to be. Everyone’s body is different; you can be unhealthy if you’re skinny or heavy. The key is to find the weight that’s best for your body and stay there.
Now, I'm glad she's happy in her skin, but I'm going to take a few issues with this even though it dates back to 2011.

Smith is outlining her "thin" era, but she says she starved herself and used laxatives.  That sounds to me like both anorexia (though that could have just been hyperbole), followed by bulimia (which I don't think is hyperbole at all).  Oh sure, most folks think of bulimia as throwing up after you eat, but as I learned in Introduction to Psychology, it can also be the use of laxatives.

Why does this matter?

Well, simply put, it explains why Smith feels healthier now than when she was lighter.  Frankly, her advice is a cop-out, all in all.  I mean, if she's happy, so be it.  I honestly don't care.  What bothers me is that she's giving advice that many will cling to and use as an excuse to not do anything to lose the weight that will lead to health problems down the road.

For what it's worth, the two actual experts quoted by Glamour disagree with Smith, but will that matter?  Of course not.  When you're overweight and are trying to see if you're actually healthy being overweight, you'll cling to whatever you can to confirm what you want it to confirm.  It's called confirmation bias, and it's a real thing.  Her comments will excuse people from actually doing anything about their weight.  Instead, they'll point to her experiences and say, "See?  Thin isn't necessarily healthier!"

The sad thing is they're right.  If you're over-training, under eating, and then using chemicals to force nutrients out of your body early, you're not going to be healthy.  You're just not.

However, if you train smart and eat smart, you will lose the weight and actually be healthy.

I'm not picking on Smith.  Her quote is just one I stumbled up on while looking at the idea of being healthy and fat.  I mean, can you be both?  Personally, I think that all things being equal, you can't.  Are there exceptions?  Maybe.  For the vast majority of us fat people?  Not so much.

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