Many Obese People DO Look Great The Way They Are

It’s hard to read this and not just shake my head.

[M]any clinically obese men and women think they’re already at a healthy weight.

In a study of 2,056 obese people in Dallas County (all participants had a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or higher), researchers asked each participant to look at nine illustrations of bodies, from very thin to very obese. The volunteers were asked to pick their ideal shape along with the one that most closely resembled their own body. About 165 people, or 8% of the group, chose ideal body shapes that were the same or bigger than their own, suggesting a misunderstanding of healthy weight.

Eight percent.   8% of respondents preferred bodies their size or larger and you’re concerned that’s too high?   Eight percent?

Not to mention that a BMI of 30 isn’t all that large.  Don’t be fooled by the article’s illustration.  Here’s a picture of a woman with a BMI of 30.  The man in this photo has a BMI of 30.  Do you think a magazine or newspaper would use one of these photos when illustrating the “obesity epidemic”?  Of course not.  But they’re photos of people who have a BMI of 30 and therefore are considered “clinically obese”.

I can certainly understand someone could see one of these photos as a desirable body.  Especially if many of the photos are of men like athlete and actor Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”), who is also officially “obese”.

But Time doesn’t bother with actually thinking about this, or the fact that permanent weight loss is nearly impossible, or that self-acceptance can be part of a healthy life at any size, or even that aesthetics vary.  Instead they slap on a misleading illustration and crank up the panic.  Joy.

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21 thoughts on “Many Obese People DO Look Great The Way They Are

  1. I wish I were that obese! My husband says he is obese too, and looks to weigh about 170 at 5’8″. If he says it one more time I’ll slap him into five years in the future.

  2. This makes me just so sad and angry. People face prejudice and shame everywhere if they are overweight. It takes an incredible amount of strength to accept oneself. In the Time survey, only 8% have managed to shed a mindset that makes one cringe everytime they pass a mirror, that makes one not appear in family photographs, that makes buying clothes an ordeal that reduces the shopper to tears. THAT is a matter of concern. I hate that Time is instead saying ‘tsk tsk..look at the deluded fatties, they are not depressed to the point of being suicidal’

  3. According to the BMI charts, Johnny Depp is overweight.

    Any time someone starts spouting the Gospel According to the BMI at me, I trot out that bit of trivia and watch jaws scrape the floor.

  4. I’d be more interested in hearing how many people picked ideal shapes that were far below a so called ‘healthy’ weight, as well as hearing how many of the people when asked to pick a picture that most closely resembled their own body shape chose one that was larger than their bodies actually are.

    • This is what I wonder too. And I really hate the fact that a whopping 8% is enough to send these people into a tizzy of OMG’s. It’s silly really. This more rationally (IMHO) proves that fat people get the message, that they KNOW they’re fat and KNOW their bodies are unacceptable to most of society. If you want to look at it another way, this means that out of a group of ten friends, only one person is sort of ok with their body. That’s a really, really sad thought.

  5. I’d like to see those “nine” pictures they were shown. And I’ll bet those 165 people were most likely very near the 30 BMI mark, too. They probably don’t think of themselves as fat either. Tsk, tsk….what a shame that those 165 people don’t hate their bodies as much as the 1891 other people do. How terrible that those 8% probably have healthy self-confidence and don’t actually spend their entire lives comparing their bodies to the photoshopped and completely faked images of celebrities and models! They should be ashamed of themselves!

    And what about the other end of the spectrum? How many participants chose images depicting an ideal UNhealthy BMI? I’m 5’10″….so if I chose an image of someone who looked like, oh, Reese Witherspoon, who’s clearly 5 inches shorter than me, would they cluck their tongues at my delusion or pat me on the back for buying into an ideal that could never, ever happen for me? My hunch is they would probably applaud my pursuit of an unrealistic and totally unattainable ideal and send me on my merry way with a goodie bag full of diet plans, heart-killing drugs, and a barrel full of self-loathing.

      • Thanks for pointing that out to me! I certainly didn’t mean to imply that the 92% hate themselves. My sarcasm tends to get the best of me sometimes! :)

  6. Another good example of how utterly ridiculous popular culture and “health care” have become about weight issues. Several years ago, I lost 80 lbs (and became terribly ill because of the harsh diet and other things). My physician then told me I was overweight at 145 lbs. I’m 5′ 5″ and had a BMI of 24.1 — whatever that’s worth. I was stunned that a medical “professional” didn’t even recognize that I was at a weight that met their “official” standard as OK…. Predictably, it was impossible to maintain that kind of weight loss and I’ve now gained almost all of it back — and I’m healthier than I was at the lower weight. I really appreciate your blog and its contribution to sanity in this crazy world.

  7. Merry wrote: “My physician then told me I was overweight at 145 lbs. I’m 5′ 5″ and had a BMI of 24.1 — whatever that’s worth. I was stunned that a medical “professional” didn’t even recognize that I was at a weight that met their “official” standard as OK….”

    This just proves to me that even trained medical professionals don’t have a firm grasp of “healthy weight”. *sigh* As a teenager, before the radical BMI reduction in the 90s, I was 5’10” and weighed 170ish lbs. I was well within the “healthy weight range” at the time, and even today, that would put me at the top of the healthy BMI range. Even though I was within the ‘range’, people thought I was fat because I have wider hips, bigger thighs, and broad shoulders (in other words, my Dad’s build–he was 6’4″ same build).

    It just goes to show you that it’s NOT about ‘healthy weight’ at all….it’s about how you ‘look’. That’s why this article is so maddening, because what Living400lbs says is true….even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who is obese according to the BMI chart) wouldn’t be called fat by anyone because he ‘looks’ good. Another example of this….does anyone else remember the drug commercial for either lipitor or plavix from just a few years ago? The one that shows a thin woman coming out of a limo dressed all snazzy, being photographed by paparazzi, smiling from ear to ear….who then proceeds to trip and fall down on the red carpet? There was this number above her head as she fell….her cholesterol level…and it was high. The point of the commercial was to say that even those who ‘look’ thin/average size can have high cholesterol, so ask your doctor for our fabulous product! That commercial’s long gone now…because it doesn’t feed enough into the fear-mongering that promotes their products. Neither does it reinforce the MSM’s panic about obesity. Think of all the negative feedback the producers of the LapBand would get if they used models/actors in their commercials who actually looked like most of America—those in the 30% range.

  8. The title is so misleading. Like one of the commenters says it should say “8% think”, not “many”. And that whole contagious study is pointless scare mongering. “Don’t hang out with fat people because they will make you fat!”

  9. as I read through the comments of my fellow travelers on this journey towards acceptance, I am encouraged that I live at a time where the internet can connect me with folks that understand the travesty, the injustice, the insanity of having to interact with folks in our mainstream culture. Lately I find myself having to say to my immediate family a lot, I will never diet again and I will not discuss the reasons for my decision with you anymore. Sadly, this had pretty much ended the wonderful connection I used to share with my sister, it has eliminated the ability for my parents and me to discuss anything other than superficial weather and politics stuff. I know dieting is wrong for me and everyone in my life (except my brother) disrespects me by trying to get me to see things the way the time.com article see things.

    Sorry for the rant, but I am really having a hard time with family right now and I am being forced to choose between my truth and relationships that have a lot a value to me.

  10. 8 % really is such a small number. When I read this article I take it that 8 % feel good about their body image and are happy they way they are. Why would others want to rob them of this?

  11. I choose to keep challenging the editors who write as though BMI is any kind of final answer. I’ve heard that repetition does eventually get a message across.

  12. Pingback: “Peaceful” and “relaxing”? « Living ~400lbs

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  14. You’re really making me feel better about myself here! Looking at that picture of a woman one inch taller than me and the same BMI. WOW. I always think of myself as being “fat” because I’m “obese” but not anymore. I’m healthy! I exercise daily, have a vegetarian diet, etc. What I do do wrong, though, is eat something sweet every now and then. :p Thanks a lot for writing this up! Also, your blog is awesome!

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