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To not understand why being underweight is considered by many to be 'dangerous', while being overweight is considered 'curvy'?

(103 Posts)
EnterWittyNicknameHere Wed 30-Jan-13 11:49:46

This has something that's really annoyed me recently.

In newspapers/magazines i see artcles about dangerously ill supermodels/people because they are underweight.

In the same newspapers/magazines, i see articles glorifying overweight people for being curvy.

My weight has fluctuated over the years between 8 and 12 stone. For my height, a healthy bmi is a weight between 8 1/2 stone and 11 1/2 stone. So i've been half a stone over and under before.

During my 'under' days, almost everyone would criticise me for my weight, saying i was unhealthy and a bad influence on dd. I was sacrificing my health, i could drop dead with heart failure etc. I need to stop being selfish.

I was eating very well, had cut out all chocolate/sweets/white bread etc and was exercising daily. I wasn't starving myself at all, just being stricter than usual.

During my 'over' days, people were complimenting me on my shape. I heard comments like 'it's better to see a bit of wobbly skin than bones', 'you're setting a good example to dd that looks aren't everything/you can be curvy and attractive', 'you look much better now than before.' 'be proud of your body.'

I just don't get it!

I'm now a slightly wobbly size 12, almost 11 stone, so considered a healthy weight. However, i am extrememly unfit and untoned.

I mentioned last night to my friends that i was thinking of starting up my old regime to lose a stone, and they totally freaked out.

My two best friends are overweight. One posts those picture things on FB almost on a weekly basis such as 'real men like curves', or pictures of a skinny supermodel next to a plus size model which reads "i know which one i'd rather be."

It just feels so confusing and unfair. They're really being hard on me for wanting to lower my weight, yet when i mention their weight they make out that they're happy, and being curvy is better than 'looking like a boy'.


FellatioNels0n Wed 30-Jan-13 15:15:48

Yes lashing but 'within the healthy range' being the all-important phrase. Outside the healthy range I think it will be another story altogether.

lashingsofbingeinghere Wed 30-Jan-13 15:30:11

Agree, Fellatio, but the healthy range is quite large:18.5 - 25 and there seems to be a growing assumption that being at the lower end is not as healthy as being at the upper end, or even above it (ie overweight) and this study suggests the opposite.

maddening Wed 30-Jan-13 15:45:18

Tbh I think it's the other way round - it is probably a perspective thing.

I see overweight people as vilified - even on mn.

Where someone is dangerously thin they are pitied.

sarahtigh Wed 30-Jan-13 15:46:28

the healthy BMI range is 18.5 to 25, apparently being nearer the lower end is healthier when younger but as you get older it is better to be nearer the top end, very thin older women tend not to be as healthy this is not suggesting BMI should go upto to 30 but that 23-25 is better in retirement than 18-20

underweight is more dangerous per point than overweight so someone with BMI of 27 has a minor slight risk but conversely a BMI of 16 is quite dangerous

unfortunately some people just have to comment saying if you put on 7 pounds oh you are getting podgy or you look much better then when you lose 7 lbs they say mustn't get too thin or you looks loads better

it is better to be fit with BMI of 26 than have BMI of 22 and smoke and binge drink, and live on crsips and chocolate, BMI is a guide not an absolute rule not everyone with normal BMI is truly healthy neither is everyone slightly outside the range automatically so unhelathy they are risking death that is why overweight has different categories but all underweight is considered dangerous, ( i think previously BMI 18-20 was considered slightly underweight) and below 18 more worrying

ShephardsDelight Wed 30-Jan-13 15:52:35

In a sense OP you've sort of contradicted yourself in your OP, the fact these girls are models to begin with means that a large part of society deems them 'beautiful', overweight women are always under scrutiny.

lashingsofbingeinghere Wed 30-Jan-13 18:37:13

Sarah, that is interesting. What research are you basing this information on?

I have read that being thin due to excessive dieting creates risks such as osteoporosis, but that long term leanness with no underlying restriction of food groups is not associated with any increase.

LouMae Wed 30-Jan-13 18:50:22

Why can't all women be a bit kinder toeach other and stop this body hate and scrutiny of others? It makes me sad that women both big and small pull each other apart.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 30-Jan-13 20:17:09

Not body hate.
Body awareness. Many people do not realise how much they do weigh and how much fat they are carrying and therefore how ill they will be later in life.
The people who are now very old (80+) ate healthily [there was little choice when they were young] for the first 50 years of their lives.
The people who are now 60 have not and statistically they will die younger than their parents.
And the children are even more unhealthy.
It is not hatred to make people look at themselves as they truly are.

sarahtigh Wed 30-Jan-13 20:38:56

I read quite a few dental/medical journals and off the top of my head I can not remember which one but it was in the past few months,

I do remember that over either 70/75 in women that general health was better in women with BMI nearer to 25 than 20, it did suggest reasons for this but allowing for statisitcal variations etc it did conclude that being towards the top end of healthy range was better in older age, it was not concluding that overweight was better just that being very slightly heavier at 70 than at 30-40 was not a bad thing

I do not think that the old always ate healthily my aunts are both close to 90 and have never eaten that healthily, when they were young it was mostly bread and potatoes very little fruit apart from apples as they grew in garden and would be wrapped to keep to feb/march then in summer there would be rhubarb but they would have had onions and carrots, peas etc would have been for just 6 weeks in summer, they have always put salt on stuff like it was going out of fashion, and they eat about 3 portions of fruit a week, they share half a banana and then have the second half between them the next day my dad's family seem to have healthy genes my grandfather was one of 11 very poor born 1897 but apart from one who died in accident about aged 5 they all lived to mid 80's, however hearing and eyesight problems do run in the family

yaimee Wed 30-Jan-13 20:55:53

I imagine that this has been said multiple times but there are millions of pounds spent on govt initiatives to help people lose weight, we are bombarded with tv programs and articles about obesity and weight loss and when the media uses th word city what they mean is size 12+, they certainly aren't referring to obese people who are often ridiculed.
I'm not saying that underweight people have it easy and they deserve the same respect and sensitivity as anyone else, they shouldn't be singled out but it's important to emphasise that both body types can potentially be dangerous.

forgetmenots Wed 30-Jan-13 21:06:00

Exactly LouMae.

NeverKnowinglyUnderstood Wed 30-Jan-13 21:14:11

For me it was the reverse, I lost 3 stone when pregnant, I felt awful, totally shit
pregnancy did not suit me at all.
and yet everyone said that I looked so well, aka thin, I was 3 stone lighter the day I gave birth than the day I got pregnant.

over all I think you are right, though, somehow a stone underweight does look scarier than a stone overweight.

drjohnsonscat Wed 30-Jan-13 21:15:26

gosh I honestly do not see the phenomenon you see OP.

Obeseness and just being overweight is about the very worst thing you can be in our culture - not just from a health pov (which for the obese is understandable) but because we are obsessed by the "healthy" body image of the stars. That's why we get told that Giselle is "curvy" and a role model for women who are less than skinny angry. Our whole world view has been skewed by the fear of fatness and if some people try to compensate for that by not banging on about the problem to their fat friends, then they are nice people, not delusional people.

I always think that fatness is the last unacceptable behaviour, because it is visible. We pin all our dislike on it and disparage those who are overweight. Whereas the slim woman who goes home and downs half a bottle of wine every night without fail is not censured because a) nobody knows and b) she's not wearing it on her thighs the next day.

thezebrawearspurple Wed 30-Jan-13 21:21:15

Fat people want you to be as fat as they are so they don't look so bad. If you're surrounded by overfed, junk addicted, couch potatoes they will tell you that you look 'anorexic' at whatever weight they find themselves looking enormous next to you. They're jealous of you when you look good. Dump the sabotaging, unhappy people who are projecting their weight issues onto you and find some healthy, happy, active, normal sized people.

scripsi Wed 30-Jan-13 21:29:49

I have always been the lower end of the usual BMI (I was seriously into sports for school/university and often looked lighter than I actually am as I was a very wiry sprinter). I think the question isn't "why is it considered to be healthier to be curvy," the question is rather why do people feel very comfortable commenting negatively about the slim to their face.

This happened to me a few times and I remember a rather haughty woman queuing next to me for some clothes shop changing rooms with her slightly overweight daughter and commenting (as if I didn't exist) "you don't want to look like her, yuck, no meat on her bones, horrible".

Corygal Wed 30-Jan-13 21:30:09

AFAIK, underweight people die younger. That could be a reason for not being so keen on the skin 'n' bones look. Tall, thin people are notably shorter lived than others - I think it's a difference of about 5 years.

You've got to distinguish the issue of individuals angrily promoting their own shape as the ideal and/or being rude about others with the aesthetic points of view, and finally, the health facts. All these three change all the time.

ColgateIsBest Wed 30-Jan-13 21:30:19

I agree OP, I hate the it. I am a size 8 in most shops and have a BMI of 22, well with the healthy range and I am constantly told that I must not be eating, I look anorexic, it sets a bad example to my DDs, it's not healthy and all that jazz.

Apparently, as a slim woman, the socially accepted response to this is to nod and smile and take it on the chin.

If I were to point out that at size 14-16 they must be over-eating, they look overweight, its sets a bad example to their DC, it't not healthy and all that jazz then I would be committing social suicide, it would be considered totally unacceptable.

Why cant there be a simple rule: 'don't comment on my size, I won't comment on yours'

ColgateIsBest Wed 30-Jan-13 21:33:00

Forgot to say that the most annoying thing is that people seem to assume I am underweight because I am slim, I'm not. I'm a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet and do plenty of exercise, both cardio and resistance work. But because I am slimmer I get labelled as underweight and then get grief about it.
I dread to think the comments people who are genuinely underweight get!

FanFuckingTastic Wed 30-Jan-13 21:37:14

People focus too much on the aesthetics of a woman, rather than on the importance of health. For some it's one end of the scale, and others the other.

But we are women, therefore weight is somehow a big issue for us.

Perhaps these are the words of a bitter fat disabled woman, but I know right now I'd rather have my health than the perfect body - whether the person doing the biased judging say it be stick thin/curvy.

yaimee Wed 30-Jan-13 21:40:48

I think you should just have a think about what would make you the happiest and do that. Try to view your body image in terms of your own health and happiness and ignore comments whether positive or negative. Other peoples opinions of your body shouldn't matter, only your own!

ColgateIsBest Wed 30-Jan-13 21:42:07

You're right Fan, people assume that your weight is solely about the aesthetics, rather than about health. I've had colleagues comment on me saying no to wine and chocolate cake along the lines of 'she is scared of looking a bit chubby' but in actual fact it is nothing to do with how I look. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle because I want to be around for my DC for as long as possible, not because I want to fit into a size 8. Being slim and toned is a by product of the lifestyle I work hard to stick to, rather than the reason for it.

garlicblocks Wed 30-Jan-13 21:42:46

Haven't read thread, just your OP. Anorexia can cause multiple organ failure. Obesity can cause a lot of bad things, but not sudden death. Overweight puts a strain on the heart; so does underweight. The people you refer to - models & celebs - tend to be anorexic (models) and/or to have been on a severe diet (slebs) when you see them being very thin.

Not to say some people aren't naturally thin and healthy, however this isn't what you were talking about in your OP. Generally speaking, underweight is more dangerous than overweight. As this goes against popular 'knowledge', I'm always pleased to see the media criticising excessive slimness.

mashpot Wed 30-Jan-13 21:53:08

I have a BMI of 17.5. I have weighed 7st 7lbs since I was about 17 (give or take a few pounds fluctuating either way now and then - plus major weght gain when pregnant!). I don't diet and propbably don't exercise as mush as I should, this is just the way it is for me.

People openly say say to me, put some weight on, and similar comments. I have had colleagues admit they thought I was anorexic until they shared an office with me and saw how much I ate! Unfortunately people will always have an opinion on other peoples appearances so you have to do what's right for you and ignore them completely.

Procrastinating Wed 30-Jan-13 21:54:17

This thread is telling me that thin people despise bigger people rather than the other way round.

FanFuckingTastic Wed 30-Jan-13 22:01:33

I thinking hating a person on aesthetics alone is weird.

Same as judging their health on it.

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