Health

Weight matters for health

Published 7.9.2017
The focus in this piece is the BoPo (Body Positive) movement, which is really a FaBoPo (Fat Body Positive) movement— and writer’s such as Ragen Chastain are starting to state as much— however, I think it all stems from the lie that is HAES (Health At Every Size).

Weight matters for health, in both big and small ways. Yes, the miraculous human body can compensate for a lot, including significant excess weight on its frame. That compensation is a type of compromise, however, an alteration from the body’s optimal functioning.

I think you can admit that fact and still decide that you don’t see a need to change your body size. Admitting that fact doesn’t change the further fact that all people of all sizes deserve respect. People who choose to alter their body size— or simply rejoice if it happens unintentionally, which is what this author asserts— deserve respect as well.

Body positivity apparently means that your body can never be changed— at least when it comes to losing weight. Apparently dumping chemicals on your head (hair dye), piercing the skin or having heavy metals injected beneath skin (tattoos) are considered acceptable body changes. The only change that is taboo seems to be loss of weight. Gaining weight does not generate the same response.

I think the body positivity movement is actually kind of amazing. I think anyone who helps others embrace and love their body in order to change our societal standards of beauty is ultimately doing a good thing. But I am very uncomfortable with the way that some body positivity advocates take “body positivity” to mean “You can’t care about what you look like,” or “You can’t care about your weight,” or “You can’t ever try to lose weight” I want to ask: Why not?

Loving my body shouldn’t mean that I don’t take care of it. Loving my body shouldn’t mean that I let it go and eat whatever I want if that’s not what I want to do. If someone wants to eat Cheetos and drink soda all day, more power to them. But isn’t body positivity all about embracing that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, that bigger bodies are beautiful too and that we shouldn’t bully those that are outside of the “beauty standard”?

Joint pain is real, and excess weight makes it worse. Losing some of that excess weight can mitigate or even resolve the pain, unless the joint has been too damaged. The fact that thin people also suffer knee pain doesn’t negate that fact.

One of the best thing to do for damaged joints is to let the body heal itself in most cases. The way for the body to heal itself is not to dealing with the stresses of excess weight. The best thing to do though is to go to physical therapy and keep moving. This has been shown to be true of the spine and now also the knee.

My motto remains, “Stay out of the belly of the beast.” And an operating table is definitely deep within the bowels of the beast. It’s fascinating that after expounding on how arthroscopic surgery turned out not to be the great advance medicine expected, total knee replacements are touted as benign. Guess what? Knee replacements haven’t been a thing for very long, and we have no idea what will happen to that technology as the body ages. The same comment can be made for hip replacements.

I know several people who’ve had one or both hips replaced, and at least for now they are pain-free and happy. I hope for their sakes that knee replacements age gracefully, but no one, in or out of medicine, knows what will happen to replaced joints several decades in the future.