Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Let’s Talk About Weight

I’m going to talk about weight again.

We have a strange dynamic going on in our society: on the one hand, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of adults in the U.S. are obese. On the other hand, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, about 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women have anorexia nervosa at some point in their lives.

So we have two opposite ends of the weight spectrum teetering on their respective extremes. This poses a difficult problem when we try to tackle both issues at the same time. In order to combat obesity, we must tell people to eat healthier and exercise in order to lose weight. But in order to combat eating disorders like anorexia, we must tell females (the group among which eating disorders are most prevalent) to start eating more in order to gain weight.

Because of this confusing dynamic, we are stuck in a society of extremes: girls look at skinny models and drive themselves to anorexia. Often, they shame other girls who have gone the opposite route and gained more weight than is healthy. It doesn’t help that skinny is considered trendy and beautiful while obese is considered disgusting and ugly. This notion further skews the dynamic so that obese girls are looked down upon and skinny girls are valued, despite the fact that being underweight is just as unhealthy as being overweight.

I’ve noticed that one word in particular tends to get thrown around a lot in discussions about weight: “normal.”

Let’s break down this word. What does “normal” really mean? Well, it seems to me that “normal” can’t actually mean anything, particularly with regard to weight. Therefore, it is completely inappropriate to use it in such discussions. I mean, the fact that there are so many different body types and that the concept of a “normal” weight differs from person to person proves that a universal “normal” weight simply does not exist. Every single one of us is unique. We are not the same. Our bodies are not the same. Thus, “normal” cannot possibly exist. We should just go ahead and take it out of the dictionary right now. Problem solved.

In my opinion, the word we should really be using, the word we actually mean when we say “normal,” is “healthy.” By using this word when referring to weight, we qualify the fact that a healthy weight means something different for everyone. And a healthy weight should be what we strive toward. We live in a society of weight extremes, but the common denominator is eating healthy. It doesn’t matter if you’re obese or anorexic, you must make healthy eating choices in order to get back to a healthy weight. If we stop throwing around the word “normal” and start using the word “healthy,” along with reminders about what eating healthy should mean, I am optimistic that we will get far in terms of both our well-being and our tolerance for one another.

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