I am obese.
According to the BMI chart (which is just a stupid one-number exact replica of the old-fashioned height-weight charts, dressed up as some sort of pseudo-scientific breakthrough), I am not merely overweight, but O.B.E.S.E.
I work out regularly, and eat reasonably healthy…but I am obese.
I can still do the splits, a backbend, cartwheels, and round-offs… but I am obese.
I regularly turn heads in a bikini or a sundress or form-fitting jeans…but I am obese.
My very active career involves climbing up and down ladders, hanging from trees, crawling across rocks and retaining walls, constantly moving equipment, furniture, sets, and backdrops. It’s amazing I can do any of it, what with my obesity and all…
I can swing a 45-lb kettlebell like a champ, I dead lift 200 lbs, and have a 400-lb leg press…
My waist-to-height ratio (.43, while the recommended ratio is anything .5 or below) and waist-to-hip ratio (.63, while the recommended ratio is anything .8 or below) are both well under "healthy guidelines" and are aesthetically enviable by most accounts…
My blood pressure, blood sugar, blood lipids, and resting heart rate are all perfect. PERFECT…
I am a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and I have made it through P90X, Insanity, and TurboFire...
I have tried to run several people who are "normal" on the BMI chart through my exact usual workouts. They couldn't make it through, even with modifications...
I do MRT, Tabata, boot-camp-style bodyweight training, yoga, pilates...and I can hang upside-down by just one foot from a stripper pole (with the other foot bent behind me until it touches the back of my head)...
I take (and need) absolutely NO prescription meds…
I sometimes get stopped by bodybuilders when out in public. They want to know “how I got my calves like that.” Or they say things like, "I can tell you squat."
I am fully aware that my body is not everyone’s cup of tea… I know some people (including most of the media and medical establishment) stand by the BMI chart's assessment of my fitness, health, and beauty... Yet many (not all) women tell me they envy my shape…
And many (not all) men tell me that my body is their idea of “ideal”…
My figure is shapely…and mostly firm and tight, even after having two kids… but with just a little jiggle in the places that benefit the exercise of my womanly wiles.
Though I am 44 years old, I frequently am asked out by men in their 20s and 30s, and I am sometimes still carded when I buy alcohol…
I still buy almost all of my clothes in the “juniors” section, and I fit just fine in Victoria’s Secret swimsuits and lingerie…
BUT I AM O B E S E .
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, my celebrated cell-phone selfie series, “Portrait of an Obese Woman.”*
This is me, last week, in all my obese glory, in one of my favorite pairs of jeans (which I like because it doesn’t squish my assets or gap at the waist like most jeans do).
This is what an obese woman looks like in sweats, right after her workout.
This is what an obese woman looks like in a swimsuit.
This is what an obese woman looks like when getting ready for a date.
This is what an obese woman looks like when she’s out with a bunch of her (non-obese) friends. (obese person circled in red, others’ faces blurred for privacy).
BEHOLD, an obese woman's ass. Nope, it's not small. But it's round and it's firm and it's sitting right where it belongs (no small feat for a 44 year old mother of two). BTW, if you happen to like a round booty, I have 7 magic words for you: Super Slow Motion Suspended Bulgarian Split Squats.
And just as an added bonus, this what an obese woman looks like in lingerie…
*I apologize for the low quality of many of these photos. I do have beautiful, well-lit, professionally captured and retouched images I could show you, but I wanted to be sure to only use basic, low-tech, unedited images here to illustrate my point as clearly as possible. These photos are all recent, unedited, and show me at a weight which puts me somewhere between 1-2 points into the "obese" category on the BMI chart.
Anyway, I sincerely hope I’ve made my point… But just in case I haven’t, here it is:
Don’t allow yourself to be defined by the arbitrary standards someone else came up with. I won’t go into the reasons these charts were invented in the first place, or even the reasons why they are so invalid for so many people. But I will say that the people who decided on these numbers did so based on statistics that don’t distinguish between correlation and causality. These statistics are about as accurate for assessing an INDIVIDUAL as a grading bell curve is for assessing the intellect and understanding of individual students. The people collecting and analyzing the data used to make these charts do not in any way understand the totality of the differences in your frame size and shape, your weight distribution patterns, your bone density, your muscle mass, your hydration level, your overall health and genetic profile, your fitness level (cardiovascular, strength, endurance, coordination, and flexibility), your personal preferences, your mate’s personal preferences, your body’s energy needs, etc.
Stop living and dying and breathing and eating and smiling and crying by the magical number on the scale. Look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Touch your body. Does it feel mostly firm? Check yourself - How are you feeling? How are you breathing and moving? How’s your energy? How do your clothes fit and feel on your body? Are you living a happy, balanced life? If you don’t like your answers to these questions, then perhaps you should take greater steps to improve your fitness level and nutrition. But don’t base that decision on a number or a chart or a medical-INDUSTRY-imposed definition.
I’m NOT saying to stop trying to maintain and improve your health and fitness. I’m all for it. I work on mine constantly. But I also relax and enjoy life. My body reflects both of those facts, and I’m super-okay with that.
But, then again, I’m obese, so what do I know? You should probably take everything I say with a grain of salt… Or a scoop of ice cream… Mmmmmmm, ice cream…
PS I wrote a heartfelt letter. It goes like this:
Dear BMI Chart,
F*@k you. You can kiss my well-rounded assets.
Edited to add: If you want some more objective answers as to why the BMI chart stinks to high heaven, here you go: