Lambert Adolphe Jacques invented the BMI around 200 years ago in the early 19th century. Today however, the British mathematician and popular science writer Keith Devlin explains that this tool fails and misleads us. Taking this further, Devlin explains that when Jacques created the BMI, he had explicitly said that it could not – and therefore, should not – be used to indicate the level of fatness in an individual. This is just one of the ten reasons Devlin gives as to why the BMI is misleading.
Putting BMI aside, marriage and family therapist Leora Fulvio has found 10 other myths surrounding fat women and obesity.
1. Fat women need to be educated on how and what they should eat.
On the contrary, fat women actually tend to have more knowledge on this than you may realize. They have read up on everything: calories, food, diets, exercise and so on. As opposed to what you might believe, they do not need your advice and suggestions.
2. Fat women should just go to the gym.
Being fit and fat are not mutually exclusive. What is more, not everybody who goes to the gym does so with the sole aim of losing weight; that is to say, there are many people who exercise because they want to be physically fit and healthy.
3. Fat women are unhealthy.
Naturally, those who believe myth #2 also believe that fat women are unhealthy. To reiterate, contrary to popular belief, there is a lot more to being healthy than a person’s size. For this reason, you cannot judge whether or not somebody is healthy just by looking at them – if you could, being a doctor would be much simpler.
4. Fat women are ‘easy’.
Aside from the obvious fact that this comment is offensive to all women, it is even worse to think that people out there actually believe there is a link between being ‘easy’ and fat. There is no correlation and what is more, it is probably best that you stop using this word to describe women in general.
5. Fat women have low self-esteem.
It is possible that myth #4 is seen as a derivative of this. In other words, people who assume fat women have low self-esteem might in turn, see them as being easy. Of course, this is wrong on many, many levels. All women can experience having low self-esteem, regardless of their size. These feelings are often fueled by the media and the unrealistic standards which are set for women today.
6. Fat women will never get married.
This one really reduces women’s worth down to their bodies. In other words, it suggests that you are marriage material only if you look a certain way or weigh below a certain weight. Obviously, this is absolutely false and by that logic, every thin woman needs to be married. A partner marries you for your heart, intelligence and morals – not your size.
7. Fat women are setting bad examples for their children.
This implies that all women of size are unhealthy, do not take care of themselves and do not love themselves; of course, this is incorrect. You can be obese and set positive examples for your children by loving your body instead of harming or hating it. The examples you set do not have anything to do with weight and size but with who you are inside.
8. Fat women are fat because they have a binge eating disorder.
This is the same as assuming all women who are underweight suffer from anorexia. In other words, this is not true.
9. Fat women have no willpower.
Usually, when people say this, they claim that if an obese person went on a diet and stuck to it, they would no longer be fat. However, it is likely that women of size actually have more willpower than the average person as they will themselves into starting diets over and over again, even when they do not work.
10. Fat women should just go on a diet.
Taking the previous point further, restrictive diets do not work. While they can help in bringing down your weight for a short period of time, it is usually not for long. This is due to the fact that restrictive and extreme diets can actually result in eating disorders.