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The BS of BMI

Jessica Vieira | Opinion Editor

BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measure of a person’s body fat, and is calculated by taking the person’s weight, in kilograms, and dividing it by the person’s square height in meters. It is used to accurately measure whether a person is to be considered clinically obese, and prescribed a diet, exercise plan, or other way to lose weight. At least, that’s what it was intended to be used for. The BMI scale is neither accurate nor healthy and causes more harm than good. It does not take into account a person’s muscle mass, or bone density. In other words, it is only measuring a person’s amount of fat in comparison to their height.

The demonization of fat people in The United States is one that has plagued us for many decades, and this vilification by the BMI has just made it worse. In early years, to be fat was a status symbol, and told people that you could afford to eat well. Now, that is the exact opposite. If you can afford the diets and the fasting and the gym memberships and the surgeries, it’s known that you have money and therefore power. That is, of course, assuming that fatness and thinness is inherently linked to how fit and healthy you are, which, as we found out with the debunking of BMI, is not. A person cannot tell how healthy another person is based solely on how someone looks, and it’s no one's business, anyway. So, where did this fatphobia start in America and the western world? What made the world hate fatness? It all stems back to power, like racism, sexism, and, of course, profit.

Fat-phobia is inherently linked to beauty standards set in place by cisgender, heterosexual white men in places of power to control marginalized groups. This is linked to racism, which leads to fat-phobia. Western beauty standards lift white features up with love, and hate black and brown features with a passion. As ridiculous as it is, thinness was determined by these white men in power to be a trait only found in white women. Therefore, anything other than thinness was deemed inferior because according to their idea of whiteness, fatness resembled blackness.

Aside from power, hating fat people is profitable, like all other things. If you have a society that runs on money and economy, what better way to make that money by convincing the population to hate itself, and then selling them ways to improve. Diet culture, fitness culture, and the like are all schemes by the same old white men that convinced you that you are not beautiful in your natural humanity to try and convince you that you can ‘fix yourself.’ “And then you’ll be beautiful and valued by us,” they say, as if it is your only purpose in this life to be accepted and validated by them. All this except there’s always something wrong, and always something out of style, and always an undesirable trait that they have decided to enforce.

In a society that profits off of self and interpersonal hatred, to love yourself and others is to actively rebel against the system set in place to control you.


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