Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Than a Number!

In the construction of this post I ended up publishing it to see if the formatting was working on some of the elements I wanted to include. It didn't work, so I subsequently deleted it. That's why you've seen a couple lines of this before. Anyway, this is the full post.

A friend of mine had a post recently about not allowing how much you weigh determine your self-worth. You can find her post here. I tried posting a comment on her blog, but for some reason it wasn't working then. I know she comes around here sometimes anyway, so I'll just go ahead and move on with my response here. She comes from an MFT background, so she runs into these issues a good amount, so I have a lot of respect for where she is coming from.

She's right: everyone is worth more than a number. There is a very real concern for women especially about appearance, and all too often, weight literally becomes the measure of attractiveness. An interesting study recently carried out by a BYU professor helps illustrate that even among women who self-report that they have no concerns with body image, they do still subconsciously react to images of obese women. It's actually a pretty interesting study. Read more here.


I don't know. I guess I think it's a bit of an extreme perspective to take. Weight, as indicated by the "enemy" scale, is an objective measure. When it comes down to it, that's what it really is. So there's a part of me that feels like this reaction is just a little too extreme, especially when I consider it with respect to how prevalent obesity is in comparison to eating disorders.

According to the NIMH, eating disorders in 2008 afflicted only about 3% of the female population. Add in the fact that many other women suffer from less severe disorders that probably wouldn't even qualify as disorders in the first-place, and that number no doubt goes up to cover a good amount more of the population, so bump that number up to wherever you please. Let's say 10%? Something like that.

However, the prevalence of obesity is just exploding in the last few decades. I wanted to post it on here (which is what I was trying to post on my blog, but it wasn't working right), but there is a really great powerpoint presentation that the CDC put out that helps illustrate how much obesity is exploding across the country. You can see that here (look at the map). Nationally, about a quarter of the population is overweight, and when you consider that the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, an affliction highly associated with obesity, then this is something that is also a very real concern among our population.

This is probably easier for me to say it because I am male and guys are for the most part not tormented to the same extent with body image issues that women are, but the objective measurement that the scale is telling us is not the enemy: the real problem is the subjective interpretation that we bring to it. While knowing how much I weigh does not constitute healthy behavior, it is just one of many possible indicators about where I'm at in terms of my health and can help me make any necessary adjustments. I just think it's a good idea to be a little more moderate in this respect.

I am not a number when it comes to my weight, anymore than I am my IQ, SAT, ACT, GRE, GPA, annual income, height, bowling score, or any other number.


Douglas said...

looks like Kern County is putting California in the fat category. Thanks Bakersfield...

As a wrestler, I have felt the pain of the scale battle but in the end, it is not the number that appears in that magical window that matters, it is your fitness level. Its not your IQ, its how you apply it. The issue has more to do with self esteem than anything else.

I agree with your friend regarding the fact that your self esteem should not be tied to the number that shows up on the scale but I don't think its the scale's fault.

Marietta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marietta said...

Chris, I came around. Haha
I think you are right that obesity is such a huge issue... and growing. And even though there are more obese persons in the world I work a lot more with the other population. Although I do think that obesity is as much of an emotional problem as it is a physical thing. I also like how you brought up worth related to any number... especially salary... maybe that one relates more with guys. and you are right, the scale is not the problem... it comes from 'stuff' and we let the number on the scale equal our worth. For many the scale is just too triggering to problematic behaviors(just like an alcoholic can be triggered to drink from sound, sight, or smell unrelated to drinking but somewhere for him it is related) so they throw it out and instead let the doctor know their weight and monitor their health using that tool... there are plenty other ways for them to gauge how healthy they are without stepping on the scale. anyway thanks for the shout out!!