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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.



I saw this BMI chart on another website - and it disturbs me. The number 5 woman is overweight? Maybe I'd be okay with that if everywhere in the media we are told that being overweight, as evidenced by one's bmi, is super duper jaluper unhealthy. Is #5 woman unhealthy?

I read recently that BMI norms for kids are based on 1970s or 80s data (can't recall which) because children today are apparently "too fat" to use for norming. Doesn't that just seem wrong? I mean, is it really good to compare kids today to kids of, what, 3 decades ago? Especially now that so many schools are sending notes home with kids if their BMIs are "of concern." If I were a parent, I would want to be damned sure that before my kid got labeled overweight that there was data to indicate that the weight was really and truly unhealthy. I remember hearing somewhere that some little girl stopped eating after a note got sent home - and the kid wasn't even overweight.

Our obsession with weight has gone too far, and charts like above make it seem all medicalized, and yet where is the real data? Where are the adjustments for frame size or muscle mass? Is a BMI of 26 really so much worse than a BMI of 25?


At 3:54 AM, Blogger StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, the number 5 woman and man don't look unhealthily overweight to me. Maybe towards the higher end of normal, but I don't think I'd even label them overweight.

It's just an artist's impression though, right? I have no idea what real people look like for the various BMIs, and I expect there is a lot of variation (e.g. one person with BMI of 26 can look slim and another maybe look overweight, depending, as you say, on musculature and frame.)

At 7:02 AM, Anonymous c'trix said...

I usually start here:
Obesity is a health concern, and I wonder how we can do both as a society - change our obsession with "thinness" (resulting in eating disorders, etc.) while not normalizing obesity. Where is the middle ground? How to attain it?

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Anastasia said...

i'm not convinced that obesity, as currently defined, is nearly the health concern it is construed to be.
it's also the case that the same bmi is going to look different on different people, so the pictures are completely bogus.

my general opinion is that bmi has become a convenient and simple index of health and in that capacity, it's total crap.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous sheepish said...

Man, those 1s and 2s are kind of disgusting looking. Gollum! Gollum!

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Breena Ronan said...

I'm with Styley, BMI isn't that meaningful anyway. It doesn't take into account your frame size or muscle mass, so people who are really muscular athletes are often classified as obese. I like the way the 5s look.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Ianqui said...

OK, I've been thinking about this for a day, and I'm going to make an admission. I would say that I look more like 5 than any of the other women in that group, and while I don't feel at all unhealthy, I do feel overweight. Maybe it's mostly for aesthetic concerns, since I eat well and exercise 4 days a week, but I would really like to be thinner. So yeah, maybe we should disentangle "healthy" and "overweight", but I do consider myself a little overweight.


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