Enter Weight And Height, Receive Number Determining Self-Worth
The Body Mass Index (BMI) Chart used to be something I swore by. Now it’s something I wish we could leave to rot in its own archaic level of hell. Thanks for those, Dante – I’m thinking the 8th Circle of Hell, for fraud and treachery. Literary references aside, BMI Charts are stupid at best and harmful at worst.
Over the past few years my BMI has been between 16.4 (waaaay underweight) and 25.3 (a tad overweight). My doctors and other people have varied between thinking BMI was a holy God at whose altar we must worship, and essentially telling me to pay more attention to what and how much I was eating than to what my weight was and how it mapped to a silly one-size-fits-all chart.
The latter are the doctors I tend to agree with.
If you read my previous article, you know that I’m pretty much the Queen of Dieting and that it got to a point where I needed to go inpatient at a hospital to be re-fed and re-nourished.
I have a friend who gets really frustrated when people tell her where her little boy is supposed to be developmentally and weight-wise for his age. Like, really frustrated, and I completely see her point! If all children were meant to be at the same place developmentally at the same time, they would be. It would just happen. And the world would SUCK: all children would have the same abilities and likes and dislikes and it would just be really awful. Now apply the same thing to weight: if we were all meant to weigh the same and be the same height… well, for one thing, it would make designing houses and stuff a lot simpler – you’d never have to worry about the height of the counters or cabinets!
But on a more serious note, our bodies go through cycles. A woman who is trying to get pregnant needs more body fat on her than a woman who is not trying to get pregnant. But psychology plays in as well: if someone is really, really set on having kids, for whatever reproductive reason (and that doesn’t just mean “I WANNA HAVE CHILDREN NOW BLAH BLAH BLAH I HAVE A BIOLOGICAL CLOCK GOIN’ OFF BABE!”), but has no body fat to support the baby, she can still get pregnant. And I’m not just spewing bullshit here, I learned that from a talk with one of my old doctors.
The alternative is true as well. If for some reason a woman is unable to bear children and her body knows this (even when she doesn’t) but she has plenty of meat on her to support a baby… yeah, it still won’t happen. Some people can just reproduce – and some can’t.
It’s pretty interesting stuff.
I think one of the traps we fall into with BMI charts is that we plug in our data – weight and height – and the BMI chart spits out a number that we automatically take to heart. But when you think about it, how many other “numbers” compose those two data points, particularly weight? You’ve got to factor in percent body fat, percent muscle mass, various ratios around the body (waist-to-hip, for instance), bone mass, etc. It’s so much more complicated than “Plug in Weight and Height and Get Number Which Determines Self Worth.”
There are so many aspects to health and being a healthy person, and keeping up with all those aspects can be a little daunting. I think the next time someone pulls out a little BMI wheel or chart, I may be tempted to rip/tear/shred/otherwise show my distaste for their method of checking up on my weight.
To the 8th Circle you go, BMI Chart.
How do you feel about the BMI Chart? You can calculate yours here (if you’re feeling masochistic or curious), or you can just talk about body image and weight in general in the comments! I’ll meet you there!
Written by Kate Rayes