BMI = BS

by Cara on October 2, 2007

in beauty myths, fat-shaming, parenthood, pregnancy, women’s health

Kate Harding has put together a slideshow illustrating how ridiculous BMI standards are. The show includes everyone from the underweight to the morbidly obese, and a lot of you might be surprised at what you find. Even as someone who has a history of railing against the BMI, it was not exactly what I expected to see. I fall into the “overweight but almost obese” category at a (just very slightly below so that all my pants are a little too lose) size 12. I know that I do not look “almost obese.” But being told time and time again that you must, well, it starts to get to you and makes you wonder how thin exactly they want people to be.

So yes, it is reassuring to see other women who fall into the “overweight” category and look a lot like me. And they look great. In fact, one of my favorite things about the show is how diverse the pictures are. We’re not talking clinical assessment, here. We’re talking real images of real women enjoying their lives and generally looking pretty damn comfortable in their own bodies. How often do we see that? Not nearly enough.

There is also an extended set of pictures available at flickr. The bonus with those is that you get to see the height, weight and BMI percentage for each person. That will open your eyes even more, so check it out.

On a similar theme of loving your body, check out this (NSFW) blog that I found via Radical Doula called The Shape of a Mother. Women post photographs of their post-pregnancy bodies, which strangely enough do not resemble those you see in the tabloids where the stars have all lost their “baby weight.” It’s a little bit of truth for the childless, affirmation for the moms and a much-needed dose of women expressing a bit of self-love.

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{ 9 comments }

1 brandann October 2, 2007 at 7:39 pm

i saw this yesterday on feministe…and yes…it was a real eye opener. as someone who struggles w/ her weight, a lot, and the way she feels about herself b/c of it, i hate the BMI. according to it, i am morbidly obese…though anyone looking at me would say otherwise. the BMI, however, only fueled the fire of self loathing that i suffered in late high school, and early college when i threw up everything ate. even today, it darkens my doorstep. as a feminist, i know that i need to learn to be comfortable w/ who i am, and that size doesn’t make the person.
i applaud this work! i hope it opens a few eyes to the injustice that is this measurment of “health”.
give me a break

2 cherylp October 3, 2007 at 4:09 pm

Thanks for posting on this – I am also ‘overweight’ according to the BMI. Trouble with that? I’m fit and athletic – I work out almost every day. The only time in my past where I had a ‘normal’ BMI was when I was in treatment for anorexia. I had stopped menstruating and weighed 25 pounds less than my current, healthy (according to me) weight. So there, BMI.

3 Anji Capes October 3, 2007 at 4:27 pm

I’ve been reading The Shape Of A Mother for some time now, it’s one of my favourite blogs! :D

4 corey October 3, 2007 at 6:54 pm

I love Kate Harding. And cherylp, I , too stopped getting a period and swooned every time I stood up too quickly- back when Weight Watchers had calculated that I could still stand to lose another 5 or 10 lbs.

5 soupcann314 October 4, 2007 at 10:32 am

For real, Cara. I am .7 away from being “overweight” according to the BMI index and I wear either an 8 or a 10.

Total. Bullshit.

6 dew October 4, 2007 at 6:34 pm

Michael Jordan, by the way, is in the overweight range. I just read that in Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters.

But oh my god! What an eye-opener that slideshow was! Apparently “overweight” means “has boobs?” I’m off to see the flickr set and the mom bodies.

7 Cara August 15, 2008 at 7:23 pm

DEAR STUMBLE UPON READERS: I will not publish concern-troll “fat is unhealthy” comments. I do not have time for such bullshit and there are many other such ridiculous threads out there in the vast internets. You might also want to educate yourself on the matter before leaving those comments elsewhere. And perhaps consider that I, and others, don’t give a shit what a total stranger infers about our “health,” or actually believes that this is your real concern.

8 silly January 22, 2010 at 3:20 pm

well i’m apparantely severely underweight. but you know what, i eat just as much as anyone else and i dont exercise constantly. i just dont put on weight. i’m not unhealthy. i would have to drink oil in order to become “healthy” bmi is ridiculous.

9 Anna January 25, 2010 at 11:09 pm

aaah. i have a bmi of 18. just right.
yet most people who see me think i have an eating disorder, cos my hips and ribs stick out like nowt else.

i’m so glad the bmi is here to tell me im ok really. /sarcasm

god, i hate body policing.

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