010. The "Fat Gap"

If you haven’t noticed, I tend to blog in spurts. I have a lot to say for a day or two and then nothing for a while. Maybe one day I’ll balance that out, but until then, here’s post #2 for today.

This morning on the bus I was reading this article in the RedEye. The article, which originally ran in the Miami Herald, is about the “fat gap.” While there’s nothing ground-breaking about the article, and it certainly didn’t come as “news” or a shock, I could relate.

I was definitely one of those people who didn’t see me as obese (even though my BMI said otherwise) because I was still smaller than a lot of people I knew or would see on the street. Sure, I knew I could stand to loose a few pounds, but to call myself obese seemed a little over-dramatic to me – like when the girls in high school who weighed 95lbs soaking wet would talk about how they really needed to loose 5lbs.

Even when I started my journey to a healthy lifestyle, it wasn’t about loosing weight. I still wasn’t totally convinced I needed to loose weight, but I was convinced I needed to get myself healthier. After all, I didn’t want to be 25 years old with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a future filled with prescriptions and doctors appointments and hospital visits.

Even now, with everything I have learned in the last year, I’m still a victim of this “fat gap.” My perception is still skewed, or is it? Where do we draw the line between realism and skewed perceptions of ourselves? I’m still considered overweight by BMI standards, but I don’t feel overweight at all. I feel fit and healthier than I have since high school. Heck, I feel better than I did in high school because I’m eating so much better. My blood pressure is normal – good even. My cholesterol is still high, but my ratio of HDL to total cholesterol is good. (I’ve got a giant genetic uphill battle to fight on this one. I’m pretty sure EVERY member of my family has high cholesterol. My grandmother’s is over 300 hundred and she doesn’t have any of the problems that are caused by cholesterol levels that high.) Is my perception that I’m “not” overweight still a skewed perception based on the “fat gap” or is it caused by the fact that I am getting healthier and fitter (and closer to a normal BMI) every day. I may still be overweight, but I could out run some of the skinny girls I know any day of the week.

My first instinct is to ask how in the world we, as a society, got to a place where this “fat gap” even exists. But if you spend even half a minute considering that, the answer seems pretty obvious. So I guess the question becomes not how did we get here, but how do we get away from here.

The one thing I find ironic about this idea of the “fat gap” is the fact that while our perceptions of what is a “normal” body size/ weight have gotten larger, or beauty ideals have remained the same, or even gotten smaller and more unrealistic. There has been some movement in getting real women into magazines and advertisements (think Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty), but on the whole magazines and ads are airbrushed to the point where models/ celebrities are too perfect looking to even be real. It seems to me that the opposite should be happening here.

What do you all think of the “fat gap?” Have you experienced this in your own lives? How do you think society can get back to a place where “normal” really is “normal” or are we doomed?

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2 thoughts on “010. The "Fat Gap"

  1. Hmm..part of me thinks the issue isn't so much that we don't realize we're that fat because comparitively everyone is big, but more that much of society views obese people as sloppy, lazy, lacking self esteem, unhygenic, etc. When we ourselves do not feel sloppy or lazy, then we don't think we match the weight of that "obese person" stereotype. I feel much thinner when I'm working out regularly, yet my clothing size or measurements haven't changed so I am NOT actually thinner. So..I think it's sort of an extension of that. People generally feel OK about themselves and therefore don't realize that they are fat. When they view other very fat people they make judgements that they wouldn't necessarily make for themselves…so they don't think they are similar.Buuttt I'm a psych major so I may just view things from that perspective ;)p.s. sorry if my use of fat offends..I just use it like a normal term like overweight or obese..not as an overly negative word.

  2. I definitely had a "fat gap." I knew I was fat, but I convinced myself I wasn't "that fat." Something in me felt GOOD when I saw a 300+ lb person on the subway. It hurts to admit that, but it validated my own existence and my own unhealthy habits. It was okay being 250 lbs because I saw a girl who was at least 275 lbs. And then it was fine being 275 lbs because there was another woman who was at least 300… and so on. I knew I did it and I wasn't proud of it. Then one day, I saw another obese woman looking at me on the train who was probably a little smaller than me, and I immediately recognized she was doing the same thing I had been doing: validating her existence.I'm glad I finally stopped and realized that I was killing myself by constantly validating.

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