Research suggests that: Between 2 to 3.4 million people in the UK are affected by some type of eating disorder. 75% of that number is female. The problem of eating disorders, is worldwide. The long history of eating disorders in women comes from shaming women from enjoying food and having to maintain certain body standards. 

In the Victorian era, women wore corsets to not only control modesty but how much food women could eat to maintain their feminine form. Fainting and swooning when feeling any emotion, feeling hot or cold,  was very common. And it was because Women were just always hungry and definitely malnourished. This helped perpetuate the idea that women were the weaker gender. It sorts of make sense being the weaker gender because we are definitely the perpetually hungry gender. Eating, something so important to sustain life, is treated with disdain among women. 

Ironically women are the same gender tasked with the responsibility of processing ingredients into a meal, only to serve themselves a tiny portion and give the rest away. As if food were a mere inconvenience. Even now, any woman that can finish a large portion of food or an entire box of pizza is going to be shamed. Even when she’s alone she’ll shame herself. 

Men are supposed to grow strong and tall and big and healthy, and men are not totally exempt from their own body image. But I daresay they have it easier. 

Most eating disorders start in adolescence. When corsets were the buzz, a girl starts wearing corsets when she was a baby. And now the mother doesn’t have to say anything or make her wear anything, the girl child watches how her mother interacts with food, and she starts to emulate. She thinks she shouldn’t like food. She doesn’t know she’s being programmed. Then she sees any big girl being weight-shamed in school, or on TV, even in chick flicks… and her size ideals become cemented.

Let’s talk about the most widely used weight-shaming tool in the world. The BMI. Did you know, the BMI was created by a Belgian mathematician to measure how the government should manage and allocate food resources to the population during a period of scarcity— it was not created by a doctor or health practitioner to measure standards of healthiness. All the participants in this sample sizing were western European men, the same people who’ve never tasted pounded yam and egusi soup, the same people that had to colonize entire continents to discover the pleasures of eating… Several years and several studies later, it still does not account for different body types or races.  It doesn’t account for the natural differences between various ethnicities, genders and ages.

A study shows that Polynesians are generally healthier at a higher weight range than Caucasians. I think the same applies to Africans. Africans are thicker and need more food to maintain healthy bodily functions. Sadly the only research data I can find on African diet only points to famine, hunger, kwashiorkor, and malnutrition. I hope we make up for this research gap one day.

By this same BMI, all professional bodybuilders or weight lifters are overweight and obese but they are above the reproach of body shaming because their body says, clearly, they’re fine.

In the same breath, women tend to have different weights throughout their lifetime, due to natural changes to hormones, which is normal. Nobody talks about this. But women will always be trying to look the same way and fit into one BMI for life because some dead guy said so.

Thanks to BMI, someone who feels like their health is fine— they walk, talk, swim, they run, they dance, whatever they want to do …will be told they will never have health while looking the way they look. You should be ashamed and always say NO to dessert. People feel like they are doctors and prescribe eating habits to strangers they see online. As if that is not enough, people are denied health care because as soon as they complain about anything, actual doctors use the BMI to dismiss them, telling them eating differently will fix all their problems. 

Sleeping habits, how much people move, and what they actually eat to stay within the given range, all of it contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Not just how glucose breaks down in their body. 

Don’t get me wrong, obesity is a real problem, but many of you are not even near it. You however automatically live in constant fear of it, so you remain underweight, never really enjoying the pleasures many foods can give you, and when you’re done worrying about how to pay your rent and go on vacation, you add BMI worry to your worry itinerary. Is that how life should be? 

There is now new research claiming that women should not have abs and whatnot if they plan to have children.. And even if not, they are messing up their hormones by having abs, which has long term negative effects. Now it is not saying women shouldn’t work out, but there is a required body fat percentage every woman needs for the proper functioning of her hormones. And many bodybuilders have come out to admit that their hormones are messed up. Where did the BMI account for the body fat each person or gender needs? 

Everyone needs a certain amount of fat. And calories. That’s where your body gets energy from. You cannot be overthinking on an empty stomach!! You cannot be crying over heartbreak on an empty stomach. Constant bloating, constant feeling of hunger but living in denial, let’s make it stop, especially sisters. You might have the correct BMI, but be ravaging your stomach with hunger. You might look conventionally attractive but are not getting the necessary calories you need to make decisions at work so you can be promoted. You’re constantly tired and cranky cos you’re hungry and lack nutrients. EAT!

Let’s make 2023 the year we eat healthy, we eat what we need to eat, we eat what we want to eat, and we stop substituting physical movements with eating disorders. Do you need to feel fit? Walk more. Learn to swim, then swim more, and stretch your body. In a world constantly forcing you to look a certain way, follow your gut and your hunger, to a place of peace.


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