I’ve been reading the conversation about the anchor woman in LaCrosse, WI who spoke about a bullying email she received. I’m amazed at some of the negative responses to this woman’s situation.
There are those who say the letter writer was polite and only stating facts and she overreacted. Sadly, this is how many of us would respond to this letter. However, the writer wasn’t her doctor or healthcare provider. He wasn’t taking her aside and discussing the specific ways in which her weight might be impacting her health. He was saying he didn’t like the way she looked. He claimed she was a poor role model for girls who would then become fat. In fact, I think she’s an amazing role model for girls precisely because she isn’t Barbie.
Other responses include people who seem to think that obesity is the underlying cause of the high costs of healthcare. She has an obligation to lose weight so that all of us collectively will have lower rates. Really? So all those women suffering the real physical deprivations of years of anorexia and bulemia in order to avoid being fat aren’t costing us anything? I’d love to see statistics on healthy overweight people versus girls trying to be thin. Bet we spend way more on girls trying to be thin. I’m not just talking the psychological damage. I’m talking the real physical impacts that eating disorders predispose one to.
Arguably fat people do have health problems. My husband is fat. He has high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Common wisdom suggests he needs to lose weight. I’d love it if he’d stop eating junk (and I mean REAL junk, like diet sodas and fake margarine). His panels are remarkably similar to those of his father, who not in the least bit overweight in his life. Genetics or weight? I suspect no matter how thin my husband becomes he will always be predisposed to those blood values. I have my own opinions on what would change them, but until he’s willing to adopt a lifestyle that makes those changes, we’ll never know if it works.
Finally, what’s the new thing I learned? I learned about a nutrition basis called Healthy at Any Weight. I learned that there are people out there, nutritionistswho work with women to overcome their body shame and create healthy eating patterns, not necessarily for weight loss but to have healthy eating “competence”. Instead of constant dieting, we start learning to listen to our body. Maybe we’ll get a little fatter but in listening to our body we’ll probably maintain a set weight for awhile because we’ll offset eating more with times when we eat less. I wish when I saw patients regularly I knew about this.
In my practice the most common thing women didn’t like about themselves was their body. And I’m amazed at the number of things people did to try and lose weight. I’m guilty of many if not all of them. I’ve been noticing too, how we judge the concepts of weight. I have one cat who’s fat and others who are a normal cat weight. You know what? The fat cat actually eats less than the other. I have no idea why she’s fat. I’m lucky to have a vet who doesn’t worry too much about that. We know she’s getting good food. All three cats are getting enough to maintain their weight, even if she is putting a little on. How many people are equally lucky? And doesn’t that just make us think again about our judgements?