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I’m fab. You’re fab. We’re all fab. Accept it.

Can we just admit already that thinness is about arbitrary cultural aesthetic and not about health? Sure, there are some grave implications in being morbidly over the weight limit that a body can handle. But being overweight itself– while even the standards of the BMI are contested– does not necessarily indicate the level of one’s health.

I’m not denying that the horrible food we’re being fed by fast-food chains or Monsanto contributes to a health problem in this county, but it is clearly more complex than a weight “issue.” Poverty and access to healthy food are also huge issues. And I’m also not saying that some people don’t need help losing weight If they so choose. But here’s something that might blow your mind:

Fat doesn’t kill you.

In fact, there’s been a whole slew of research reporting that overweight people may live longer than thin people, and some studies have produced results showing that fat (like the actual presence of adipose tissue in your body– not the cultural slur we have developed) might also have a protective quality if you have a pre-existing condition or are sick. A study by the Mayo Clinic showed that people with heart disease that had a low percentage of body fat were four times more likely to die from it than people who were overweight. The study said the reasons might be because hormones released by fat can have anti-inflammatory properties that help fight disease, and that adipose (fat) tissue gives you the needed energy reserves to help you heal. There was a study out of the UCLA School of Medicine that also reported overweight and obese patients who were on dialysis were far more likely to survive than their underweight counterparts.

These kinds of studies have been hiding under the mainstream cloak for years, until recently. A study just dropped this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that being overweight can lower a person’s risk of dying from any cause by 6 percent and may extend your life span. The BMI range they said found the most benefit was between 25 and 29.9.

More and more people are finding that fat isn’t a killer. You know what does kill people? Eating crap and living a sedentary lifestyle. And that happens in people of all sizes.

It’s just a shame that it seems easier to guilt people into a culture that forces them to feel bad about their bodies and to consume the next great diet pill or fat free shake because it keeps this beautifully complex system of capitalist pharmacopoeia shilled into our hands. Imagine living in a world that was body positive, instead– one that praised health as feeling over health as arbitrary measurements.

Elle GrovesElle Groves is a freelance reporter, writer and blogger bent on deconstructing diet culture and keeping her life full of food, fitness, family and friends. She is currently writing a novel that spans the rise and fall of a girl’s struggle with eating disorders and her DIY-recovery. Find her on Twitter @ellegrows or contact her at elle@303magazine.com

15 Responses

  1. Casey Hillmann

    I hate that I have to feel guilty when talking about my healthy lifestyle. Since I don't look the part, I always feel like people are happily nodding at me while saying something else in their heads.

    Reply
  2. Jessica Martinez

    This is soooooo true! I have been noticing more positive reports of the benefits of body fat coming to light and I'm enjoying it! It helps me feel less shameful of the way my body looks. I've been thinking more about a healthy lifestyle rather than a skinny one.

    Reply
  3. Karena Niicole

    Excellent article Elle. I think it is very important that we generate more articles promoting healthy body weights/sizes.

    "More and more people are finding that fat isn’t a killer. You know what does kill people? Eating crap and living a sedentary lifestyle. And that happens in people of all sizes." This paragraph resonates with me, because I have personally been all over the health spectrum. I look and feel most healthy when eating a balanced diet and being physically active. I just wish it was easier to avoid junk foods!!

    Take care.

    Reply
  4. Jessica Lombardi

    People are idiots/jealous. I'd like to see them try to keep up with you on a run! ;)

    Reply
  5. Rama C Bauer

    This line pretty much sums it up: "It’s just a shame that it seems easier to guilt people into a culture that forces them to feel bad about their bodies and to consume the next great diet pill or fat free shake because it keeps this beautifully complex system of capitalist pharmacopoeia shilled into our hands."

    Our whole society seems to be based around the concept that there is something wrong with you and by spending more, you can eliminate / diminish each and every (real or imagined) flaw.

    Great article.

    Reply
  6. Elle Aliya Groves

    I think you're doing great, and I agree with Jessica– maybe they are just jealous that you're being healthier!

    Reply
  7. Elle Aliya Groves

    I agree — consumerism seems to consume us, which I guess is it's purpose. Haha. Thank you so much for the feedback.

    Reply
  8. Elle Aliya Groves

    I wish it was easier, too! Lol! Honestly I think as long as you have some junk foods in moderation then that's okay. Restricting too much could lead to feeling deprived, and that's never fun. Thank you for the feedback :)

    Reply
  9. Kate Daigle Counseling, MA, LPC

    Thanks for writing about the very important topic of Health At Every Size (wherever you fall on the thin-overweight spectrum)! The Health At Every Size community (www.haescommunity.org) is a great place to pledge your voice to this cause and to continue in the advocacy. Thanks Elle for helping to take the away the stigma of fat and to reduce the shame one step at a time. Your voice and writing are valuable!

    Reply
  10. Josh McClure

    This is something I wish more Americans (or people in general) were aware of. People have significantly different metabolisms and, as a result, unique bodies. I don't think I would be able to name one person I am around on a consistent basis that's not on some kind of diet or weight loss program. It's just become a race for the ridiculously low BMI, even when most of those people I am around live a fairly healthy lifestyle. I really hate the weight loss fad that has taken over our culture.

    Reply
  11. Josh McClure

    To clarify: losing weight is a great thing to do if you legitimately need it, but it is taken to such extremes in our culture that everybody is doing it, even those that don't need to. Also, there are much better ways to go about it than paying ridiculous amounts of money for programs that aren't as effective as simply eating healthier and increasing activity. Businesses are just taking advantage of the fad.

    Reply
  12. Robbie Hilton

    Some people are genetically disposed to being bigger ("big boned") but some of the most recent studies have shown that metabolism doesn't have as much to do with weight as once believed. Eating healthier and physical activity are by far the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. There's always going to be the new "get skinny fast" diet out there and people don't have enough education to understand that these things are at best a short term fix and at worst a hazard to one's health. To properly address the problem we need to start educating people about the benefits of physical activity and a healthy diet and the dangers associated with the latest fads. Also patience is a virtue, people need to understand to hit their "target weight" requires months of physical activity and healthy diet… it's an entire lifestyle change… Sigh…

    Reply

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