Watching the Braxton’s a few weeks ago, I felt such sadness for Traci Braxton as her sister Toni told her that she needed to lose twenty to forty pounds. Though she’s not a size 6, Traci is so beautiful. Is she really fat or are her sisters over reacting?
America’s view of ‘fat’ is rather distorted. Our magazines display size 0 models and men with no body fat at all. Often times anything that is outside of this image is considered fat. A couple of pounds of extra body fat does not qualify someone as necessarily being overweight. In fact, having some fat is especially needed for lactating moms, childbearing moms and small children.
Being overweight is determined by the amount of body fat one’s body has not by the amount of visual fat. Body fat percentage is determined by a measuring of one’s BMI (Body Mass Index). BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal weight. A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight. Obesity is considered a BMI of 30 or more. (WebMD)
Being a small size does not mean that you are healthy and neither does being a larger size mean that you are unhealthy. According to Pamela Peeke, WebMD expert blogger, the average American woman is 5’4″, has a waist size of 34-35 inches and weighs between 140-150 lbs, with a dress size of 12-14.
What I am not setting out to do is to cause anyone to become complacent in the fight against unhealthy lifestyles. Our bodies are so precious and life is too short for us to continue in bad habits. Alternatively, I am hoping to change the way we think about what it means to be fat.
The images that we see on TV and in magazines is not a depiction of real life. These people get paid to look a certain way, and often times, whether or not they get jobs is based on how they look. Additionally, they can afford the best chefs, fitness trainers, and sometimes plastic surgeons to stay looking slim and trim.
Our goal should not be to look like them. It should be to look and feel our best. Be our best selves. Having wash board abs is cool but a man should not feel insecure or indifferent if he doesn’t look like Idris Elba when he takes his shirt off. In the same lane, a woman shouldn’t think any less of her arms if they don’t look like Angela Bassett’s.
What is your BMI? What is your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels? These are the numbers that matter, not necessarily the number in your jeans or even the number on the scale. Most of us have a little body fat. Some more than others, but a healthy report from the doctor is what’s most important.
Wilbert, C. (2009). As BMI Rises, So Does Risk of Death From Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, and Many Other Conditions. http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20090319/being-overweight-shortens-life-span
Peeke, P. (2010). Just What Is an Average Woman’s Size Anymore? http://blogs.webmd.com/pamela-peeke-md/2010/01/just-what-is-an-average-womans-size-anymore.html