A while back, I stumbled across a website that featured user-submitted photos to show how weight by the number really looked on both men and women of varying heights. I thought the project was pretty neat, as it was a true-to-life visual that proved how higher numbers didn’t make a difference – people carried weight differently, and everyone looked fantastic and confident regardless of where they fell on the chart. It was a real eye-opener, and made me realize that paranoia about numbers (weight, sizing) was an honest issue to which I, and surely other women, had fallen victim.
While that particular project seemed to lose steam, another project has taken its place. UK blogger and frequent Huffington Post contributor Foz Meadows posted an article to her website with a study claiming that our perception of weight is completely distorted, and that we (humans) aren’t really sure what classifies someone as being overweight.
Meadows makes a point in stating that BMI – which is a somewhat standard measure that most use to classify weight – is pretty inaccurate, based on the fact that doesn’t take frame or body type into account. Those who are taller will definitely have higher numbers, and those with stronger builds might fall into the “obese” category, despite the fact that they don’t look or feel the part. Age is also a factor that Meadows wants us to consider, since teenagers obviously haven’t settled into their adult weights and older adults tend to lose height over time.
Now for the fun part: Clothing size. The image above and the one below prove that the size you wear doesn’t actually make a difference as to where you fall on the weight spectrum.
By taking two pictures of women who weighed exactly the same, she proved that women’s sizes varied significantly based solely on their body type and height. She even blames the fashion industry for pushing sizes on us and making us feel as if being small is the only indicator of being healthy. “We have learned to correlate small sizes with healthy bodies, the better to justify their primacy on the runway, in advertising and on screen as a healthy ideal,” she claims. Can you be skinny and healthy? Definitely. Can you be curvier and healthy? Of course.
What does that mean for us? Well, it means that we shouldn’t feel pressured to think that a 6 is healthy and a 10 isn’t, since it’s quite possible that if you’re the size 10, a woman who weighs the exact same as you fits into a 6 with no concern. It also means that we need to stop viewing our self worth through a clothing tag and accept the fact that “health” is too complex a concept to identify through BMI or sizes. We also need to stop viewing skinny as healthy, and overweight as unhealthy – it’s just not true.