You want to know one of the greatest misconceptions in health as well as the single most destructive ideas I’ve encountered in the past 20 years? It’s not carbs, calories, crystal meth or cardio.
It is the preoccupation with being SKINNY.
Similar to red meat, sugar, salt, statins, cardio or dieting – most people have it all wrong. It’s not just a cute word or a harmless concept. There’s a whole sh*t storm of self-destructive ideas & eating disordered habits that are integral to it. It’s what you don’t know about it that’s most destructive.
Skinny starts out an oversimplified concept couched in cute, but most often ends in weight gain, slow metabolism (digestive issues, cold hands/feet, hair falling out) and infertility after years of interpersonal conflicts in self-image & self worth. It’s twisted, not cute: skinny most often ends up making you fat.
This wretched meme leads to morbidity (illness) & mortality (death) and yet, it is socially acceptable. It’s gotten to the point that dieters are now willing to walk around with a feeding tube up their nose that runs to the stomach. They’re fed a constant slow drip of protein and fat; water (zero carbohydrates, 800 calories/day). They do this for a few weeks right before their wedding.
However, after the honeymoon, when they start having mood swings, menstrual irregularities, get belly fat, they wont make the connection and they’ll most likely *believe* they should work out harder to fix what’s wrong.
If she wants to get pregnant, chances are that it wont be easy to conceive. If they are able to get pregnant, chances are great that their child will have some health issue from these skinny shenanigans. The mother may likely have post partum depression and a hard time recovering. This part should be obvious, but it’s not – you can forget about ‘fat loss’ or ‘getting your body back’ at this point.
Metabolic recovery takes a long time. And the more diets one did, the more work involved. And since the focus on skinny is a symptom of societies addiction to short term quick fixes, these people will have problems with how long it takes to repair a damaged metabolism.
In fact, skinny is not just socially acceptable; it has become an important part of personal identity, a status symbol/source of pride, especially amongst young females.
- It robs children of their dignity, their innocence and ability to think for themselves.
- It breeds competitiveness, bullying and fear between young women
- It leads to social isolation, morbidity & mortality
- It teaches distorted values (physical appearance over health)
- It creates years of misery (mental & physical) that can lead to infertility & weight gain
- Those years of misery (binge/repent cycles, PMS, mood disorders, hormonal imbalances, menstrual irregularities, constipation, bloating) – are so widespread, that these things are perceived as ‘normal’
- It is the essence of sado-masochism – receiving pleasure from acts of pain or humiliation.
Why aren’t we raising more confident, thoughtful children that won’t fall for this delusion? Why aren’t children independent & strong enough to resist skinny peer pressure?
Obviously, the media is a big part of this, but so are parents, who are often initially responsible for giving this sh*t to their child. It’s also the fitness industry, the fashion industry and maybe even YOU. You support the spreading of this sickness every time you go on a diet or do a stupid ‘cleanse’ or ‘detox.’
And if you are not speaking out about this, you are allowing it’s destructive growth.
The good news is, we can stop this skinny sickness dead in it’s tracks. All you need to do is challenge a few of your old beliefs on weight loss, learn a few facts and know how/when to speak your mind.
Here are two recent examples of excellent responses to people who said stupid skinny sh*t. Check ‘em out, they are important:
The Vogue article – Vogue interviewed a mother who put her 7 yr old daughter on a diet. The mother was annoyed by her daughter’s constant complaining of being hungry. This pathology goes deeper than obsession with skinny. Thankfully, there were thoroughly awesome responses written that said what needed to be said.
Ashley Judd Slaps Media in the Face – Ashley Judd wrote a brilliant response to the media’s sick obsession with her not being skinny enough:
‘The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted. Read more.
You want to know what’s crazier than skinny? The foundational ideas that skinny comes from – society’s *beliefs* about ‘weight loss’, ‘fitness’ and ‘health’.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (2005) study titled Excess Deaths Associated With Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity found: ‘Underweight and obesity (…) were associated with increased mortality relative to the normal weight category.’
Translation: being skinny increases death more so than being a normal weight.
From Paul Campos, author The Obesity Myth:
‘Contrary to almost everything you have heard, weight is not a good predictor of health. In fact a moderately active larger person is likely to be far healthier than someone who is svelte but sedentary. Moreover, the efforts of Americans to make themselves thin through dieting and drugs are a major cause of both ‘overweight’ and the ill health that is wrongly ascribed to it. In other words, America’s war on fat is actually helping cause every disease it is supposed to cure.’
‘There is no good evidence that significant long-term weight loss is beneficial to health, and a great deal of evidence that short-term weight loss followed by weight regain (the pattern followed by almost all dieters) is medically harmful. Indeed, frequent dieting is perhaps the single best predictor of future weight gain.’
‘University of Virginia exercise physiologist Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., challenges conventional wisdom on body weight and health, uncovering substantial scientific evidence to show that when it comes to fat, both the American public and the national scientific community have been working under false assumptions and self-perpetuating myths. What a blow to conventional wisdom and current medical dogma, to say nothing of the negative impact this might have on the unscrupulous multibillion-dollar-per-year weight loss industry. Our culture may worship thinness, but there certainly is no medical justification to do so.’ LINK
“…it’s interesting that clinical trials of weight loss have never shown a longevity benefit, but several clinical trials of weight GAIN show it to be correlated with improved longevity!” Paul Ernsberger, M.D., PhD, Neuroscientist, Professor of Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University
Here is a previous article I wrote detailing many of the dangers of dieting & other consequences of obsession with skinny. STOP TRYING SO HARD
So Are You Saying I Shouldn’t Try to Lose Weight?
No, it can be done the right way, but it takes a thoughtful approach. Not this popular, oversimplified, narcissistic or sado-masochistic approach. Truly healthy fat loss is rare & more complex than how it’s portrayed & bit outside of most people’s awareness or level of personal responsibility. Sure, some people can lose weight rather
easily, they usually don’t try too hard. They make mature decisions, simple lifestyle changes and have a bigger vision of life (they can see cause/effect, have long term goals, etc).
This obsession and high failure rate in weight loss isn’t going to change anytime soon. So we all have to do what we can to educate
ourselves and others. Study , don’t speculate. Read more books, better articles and please stop buying those awful weekly celebrity/pop culture magazines and watching ‘reality tv’. Do not diet and don’t entertain people’s skinny fantasies (in other words don’t sit their with a fake smile while your diet-crazed coworker spouts a bunch of bullsh*t out loud. Call her out.)
When someone makes a claim, ask them
: how do you know that? Got proof?
‘…Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses…’
Don’t sit there and smile while feeling uncomfortable because you are afraid to tell the person they are talking out of their ass. Ok, you don’t have to use that language, but stop being passive, please. Speak up. Speak loudly.
Make the people you love accountable for their infatuation & promotion of the skinny sickness.
If you have kids, read these three things you should do and four things you shouldn’t do when it comes to food/feeding & raising children: http://180degreehealth.com/2011/11/food-rewards-and-punishments
All sorts of nonsense is spread by ‘light’ social commentary, in our conversations, in what share online, what we casually or thoughtlessly allow by not speaking out.
Diet (noun) is an important part of what defines us as human. It is normal to enjoy food/eating and not have dogmatic, too restrictive or difficult to follow. Our relationships with food should not be characterized by lapses, binge/repent cycles, with ‘pure’ or demonized foods. The ‘detox’ and ‘cleanse’ is the part ignorance & repentance. This stuff is stressful, not healthful.
These are only some of the reasons why skinny sucks.
Here is an empowering video, with facts and a great song. I don’t know much about the organization behind the film, but I’ll check it out and let you know what I think.