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Is it okay to be fat?

http://www.hulu.com/embed/gpabQ23QRCHrDSAA80er1g

I just came across this Nightline Face-off episode on the concept of "fatness" as it relates to health, government policy, and cultural ideals of beauty. It was really interesting and especially relevant to conversations that have arisen in several different threads on the forums recently. Above you can watch a sort of 20 minute summary with a whole bunch of excerpts from the debate. You can watch the full debate on ABC's website, but it's quite a bit longer and I wanted to post something brief enough that people will have time to watch it and share their thoughts.

So, vegwebbers, what do you think? Is it true, as one panelist claims, that the notion of a person being fat and healthy is an oxymoron? Who (if anyone) should decide where we draw the line that distinguishes "healthy" bodies from "fat" bodies? What do you think about this idea of reclaiming the word fat so it's no longer a dirty word? What's your reaction to the panelists arguments about biological determinism (i.e. you're fat because your genes make you so) versus behavioral control (i.e. your eating habits determine how your body looks)?

One thing that struck me was that it was a debate amongst women. The moderator was female, as well as all four panelists. Uh huh. That's all I'm going to say about that.

I could talk about this for days, but usually refrain from talking to anyone I know because it is so personal and "fat" is such an emotionally charged word.  But, here we go....

First off, I think when discussing health, we need to differentiate between being overweight and overfat.  You can be healthy and overweight.  Likewise, I know a great many people who have small frames and do not weigh very much, but eat a diet comprised mainly of Hot Pockets and Miller Light and get winded climbing a flight of stairs.  While I am wary of “health at EVERY size,” I believe you can be unhealthy at any and every size.

I’m sick of hearing the argument that you can be overweight and healthy being twisted and, ahem, expanded to say that you can be obese and healthy.  There is a huge difference between being 15 lbs overweight and 150 lbs overweight.  I truly do not believe our bodies can maintain a significant weight load long term.  Even if someone who is morbidly obese has fine cholesterol levels, there's the added stress on the heart, joints, etc.

While I hate to agree with anything MeMe Roth says (as she is quite clearly an extremist), I believe we truly are subsidizing a fat culture. When flying, I have to pay additional fees for my carry-ons, as they are additional weight that costs additional fuel.  So why isn’t extra weight someone carries around their waist not cost more?  Additionally, a plane can only carry so much weight.  If a significant portion of airplane passengers are overweight or obese, that weight isn’t accounted for.  It’s such a slippery-slope, though—where do you draw the weight limit?  What about pregnant women?  Will the TSA have to weigh passengers at security (I’m sure that won’t prompt any disgruntled people to do anything rash….  ::) ).  We are trying to solve the obesity problem by trying to fix the outcomes, rather than going to the source.  Until this stops, people are going to continue to get fatter.  Sure, they can add an extra dollar to a bottle of soda.  People will groan as they pay for it at the store.  Unless it’s being taxed to the point where most cannot afford it, people will still buy it.  Instead of taxing the hell out of everything, how about we STOP SUBSIDIZING FAT FOODS TO BEGIN WITH!  I will be jumping for joy the day the corn subsidies end and/or are reduced, but too many people with power stand in the way (I am cynical, yes).  When the government is having one big circle-jerk (hmmm aren’t I pleasant?) with the companies that essentially make up the crap food supply, it’s really not hard to see why we are where we are.  Which is why….

People need to start taking charge of their health.  Our bodies were not meant to be overweight.  Our bodies are incredible—they tell us when we’re hungry and when to stop eating, they regulate our body temperature, heal wounds, rebuild muscle, and on and on and on.  It’s when we screw up that incredible balance and become so disassociated with our own selves that we get into trouble.  So rather than expecting a doctor to “fix” us, people need to realize that they are their own best doctor and the first defense against preventable diseases.  People need to educate themselves on proper nutrition and take the steps to live healthfully, instead of expecting to be prescribed pills to fix the problem, which leads to more pills to combat the side effects of the initial medication.  Overweight, underweight, whatever, focus on health and your weight will follow.

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I think that it is difficult to answer this question because we haven't really answered "what is fat?".  The standards of when a person is considered overweight have changed over the decades, so it is really difficult to answer.  I am really overweight, but my tests come back good when I get my annual physical.  I guess I don't know either.

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When flying, I have to pay additional fees for my carry-ons, as they are additional weight that costs additional fuel.  So why isn’t extra weight someone carries around their waist not cost more?  Additionally, a plane can only carry so much weight.  If a significant portion of airplane passengers are overweight or obese, that weight isn’t accounted for.

because the flight staff has the last say in whether you even get to fly or not.  I was kicked off a plane for being too fat at 220lbs, because I was so swollen from chemo that I looked much heavier than that.  They took me off the plane, and explained to me that it was their policy that customers over 350 pounds were only allowed to fly at night on the less crowded flights because of weight restrictions. 

To make it even more humiliating, people over 300 pounds have to buy 2 seats.  So, yes, it is accounted for.

Needless to say, after they caused me to miss my flight and tried to make me buy a second seat, I flew 1st class for free, because I asked for a scale.

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irreverent, know going into this discussion that people on vw are more obsessed and disturbed by weight than by the clubbing of baby seals.

AlicePleasance, your name is ironic.

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I think that it is difficult to answer this question because we haven't really answered "what is fat?".  The standards of when a person is considered overweight have changed over the decades, so it is really difficult to answer.  I am really overweight, but my tests come back good when I get my annual physical.  I guess I don't know either.

My thoughts exactly. I think what they are referring to as "overweight" in this debate, however, is based on those BMI guidelines used by most governments and health agencies. Personally, I think BMI is extremely lacking as an overall measure of health, and I would argue the only reason we still use it is because it's so cheap and has been used for so long in epidemiological and scientific research. The formula used to determine and individual's BMI fails to account for muscle mass, gender, fat distribution, and many other important factors.

This topic, I think, is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind in the ongoing public policy debate on issues like obesity and health insurance. If we're going to talk about implementing penalties or regulations on people based on their body composition (like, say, in air travel), we need to talk about our definition of the term "overweight". Who decides what is overweight, healthy, underweight, etc? You're getting into pretty tricky territory when you start taking into account ethnic diversity in body size and cultural conceptions of body image.

Another thing to think about with regards to ideas about "healthy" food and eating....I think the frame in which nutritional science has placed our conception of food contributes at least in part to this problem.  The obsession with healthy eating and the whole good-bad food dichotomy propagated by the diet industry has emerged from the notion that food can (and should) be broken down into component parts. Until 1827, we didn't even have names to describe macronutrients (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates) and the word vitamin didn't appear in the scientiifc literature until 1912! By talking about food in terms of individual components, it's entirely possible that nutritional science fails to account for the complex interaction that occurs between and within foods. For example, we know that when we take many vitamins out of foods and put them into a capsule they fail to perform the same beneficial actions on the body that they do when eaten in their original form within the food. Thus, WHOLE FOODS may be more than a sum of their parts. Hell, I would argue that calories, carbs, proteins... these are all human inventions for describing the complex dynamics we observe in the food we eat. Before we start pasting nutritional information on all our menus, we may need to think about what is lost when we talk about food only as an amalgam of nutritional components.

Very interesting discussion. I like hearing others' thoughts. Thanks for moving the thread to the appropriate forum, HH. :)

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When flying, I have to pay additional fees for my carry-ons, as they are additional weight that costs additional fuel.  So why isn’t extra weight someone carries around their waist not cost more?  Additionally, a plane can only carry so much weight.  If a significant portion of airplane passengers are overweight or obese, that weight isn’t accounted for.

because the flight staff has the last say in whether you even get to fly or not.  I was kicked off a plane for being too fat at 220lbs, because I was so swollen from chemo that I looked much heavier than that.  They took me off the plane, and explained to me that it was their policy that customers over 350 pounds were only allowed to fly at night on the less crowded flights because of weight restrictions. 

To make it even more humiliating, people over 300 pounds have to buy 2 seats.  So, yes, it is accounted for.

Needless to say, after they caused me to miss my flight and tried to make me buy a second seat, I flew 1st class for free, because I asked for a scale.

In the first days of aviation, when every flight was all-first-class because it cost a month of a workman's salary for one ticket, they weighed everybody, every time, before they got on the plane. Of course in those days there might be a dozen passengers. Imperial Air I believe was the first UK passenger airline.
If they did that today there would be screams of "discrimination". But in cases like Revvie's, it might make a point. Or two.

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When flying, I have to pay additional fees for my carry-ons, as they are additional weight that costs additional fuel.  So why isn’t extra weight someone carries around their waist not cost more?  Additionally, a plane can only carry so much weight.  If a significant portion of airplane passengers are overweight or obese, that weight isn’t accounted for.

because the flight staff has the last say in whether you even get to fly or not.  I was kicked off a plane for being too fat at 220lbs, because I was so swollen from chemo that I looked much heavier than that.  They took me off the plane, and explained to me that it was their policy that customers over 350 pounds were only allowed to fly at night on the less crowded flights because of weight restrictions. 

To make it even more humiliating, people over 300 pounds have to buy 2 seats.  So, yes, it is accounted for.

Needless to say, after they caused me to miss my flight and tried to make me buy a second seat, I flew 1st class for free, because I asked for a scale.

Before I start my rant, I just want irreverent to know that I'm not talking about anyone who is overweight for medical reasons or anything like that, because I know those are exceptions to my rules...

Anyway, I have a huge problem with fat people.  I mean, I know I could probably afford to lose 10 pounds, but I'm 20, and so I don't think a little extra weight in my boobs or anything is hurting me (I'm 5'10" and 145 ish).  It's people who are 20, 50, 100+ lbs overweight that I just don't understand.  And the fact is, unless we're dealing with one of those medical case exceptions, it's entirely their fault.  And I'm not blaming it on the SAD either, I'm blaming it on the individual person, because there are plenty of veggies as well who are fat. 
And I'm pretty sure the problem is not caused by the corn growers or McD's, it's caused by society's acceptance of fat people.  Maybe those are grossly overweight should be publicly humiliated, not accepted or just ignored.  If the only way to get them to lose the weight is to embarrass them, so be it.  I know there was a guy who was interview in Super Size Me (I think, it could have been Food Inc though) who was talking about being at a dinner and a smoker was being criticized, but an obese woman at the same table was not, though her bad habits were putting her health in jeopardy just as much as the smoker's. 
Gah.  Sorry, this is a huge personal vendetta for me.  I apologize if I greatly hurt anyone's feelings or anything.  I'm just sick of hearing about how my generation could be the first to have a shorter lifespan than that of our parents, simply because people can't take responsibility for what they shove in their mouth and get off their ass a little and move around.

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i'm a little overweight. im healthy. i work out 3 hours a day and i eat right. i would love to lose some weight, but when i got really skinny before, i was not healthy even though i was technically at a healthy weight. i just didnt eat which is definitely not healthy. so...i think you can be overweight and healthy.

and i hate the word fat. i dont think anyone's fat

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Before I start my rant, I just want irreverent to know that I'm not talking about anyone who is overweight for medical reasons or anything like that, because I know those are exceptions to my rules...

Maybe those are grossly overweight should be publicly humiliated, not accepted or just ignored.  If the only way to get them to lose the weight is to embarrass them, so be it.

How do you propose this works?  Should people who are overweight for medical reason carry a card around?  You wouldn't be able to see a card just from looking at them, so this may have to work like the Nazis did it and people could wear an armband or have a tatoo if they're overweight for  medical reasons and shouldn't be shunned.  Then we can just shun the fuck out of the others, because shunning always works so well.

We can practice on omnis.  If we shun them, they'll stop eating meat, right?  No one I know has stopped eating meat.  Perhaps I haven't shunned them enough?

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For someone that was a a thin child, overweight adult and now slim, there is a big difference between how you feel at 20 lbs overwight, barely in the healthy and smack dab in the middle of a healthy weight range.  Its true, you do feel better physically and emotionally at a slimer size.  I use to think I was alright when I was 185 because I swam everyday, ran, had a vegetarian diet, was tall etc.  Now that I am down to about 140-145, I feel so much better.  My joints don't hurt when I exercise.  I can walk, even run up the stairs without being winded.  

On the flip side, I don't believe in extreme diets.  Obesity is much more than diet and excersise.  Veganhippie, I use to go on crash diets were I ate very little, lost a lot of weight and felt horrible.  It took 6 years for me to lose this weight and keep it off.  I had to focus on my issues, how I felt about food and my body.  My whole outlook had to change.  

P.S. I hate the word fat, too.  So many negative conotations.  As if those that are overweight/obese are worthless, lazy and caused their own problems.

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For someone that was a a thin child, overweight adult and now slim, there is a big difference between how you feel at 20 lbs overwight, barely in the healthy and smack dab in the middle of a healthy weight range.  Its true, you do feel better physically and emotionally at a slimer size.  I use to think I was alright when I was 185 because I swam everyday, ran, had a vegetarian diet, was tall etc.  Now that I am down to about 140-145, I feel so much better.  My joints don't hurt when I exercise.  I can walk, even run up the stairs without being winded. 

On the flip side, I don't believe in extreme diets.  Obesity is much more than diet and excersise.  Veganhippie, I use to go on crash diets were I ate very little, lost a lot of weight and felt horrible.  It took 6 years for me to lose this weight and keep it off.  I had to focus on my issues, how I felt about food and my body.  My whole outlook had to change. 

P.S. I hate the word fat, too.  So many negative conotations.  As if those that are overweight/obese are worthless, lazy and caused their own problems.

that is exactly what healthy is. being healthy mentally, in diet, and in exercise. and thats awesome that were able to come to that.

and i so agree on the word fat having those connotations. ugh. but since we can't change it, i just omit that word from my vocabulary completely

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First off, I think when discussing health, we need to differentiate between being overweight and overfat.  You can be healthy and overweight.  Likewise, I know a great many people who have small frames and do not weigh very much, but eat a diet comprised mainly of Hot Pockets and Miller Light and get winded climbing a flight of stairs.  While I am wary of “health at EVERY size,” I believe you can be unhealthy at any and every size.

I agree with this.

I am 25lbs overweight, it is my fault...damn you vegan cookies!!!!  

Staying thin is very hard though.  When my son was born, I was 185 six weeks after he was born (I am 5'6").  I was pretty tubby.  Then I took a year off of work, joined a gym and worked out 5 to 6 days a week, hiked in the summer when the weather was warm, and breastfed, I lost 50lbs!  My acne went away, I looked GOOD!  And I admit,  I felt good too.  Now, I am working full time again, and I am back up to 155 again and still gaining.  

It is really tough, I eat because I am bored, depressed, stressed, etc, but I have a sit down job, just getting out on the weekends isn't enough.  I have tried to diet restricting my calories, that is NOT for me.  I get hungry, and it isn't pretty, and I eat a vegetarian diet.  I can't join a gym, what good would that do just working out on the weekends?  And during the week there is no time for working out, I already restrict my sleep as it is because I have to cook/clean/bath/ and frankly, just take a few moments to sit down and watch a damn movie for 15  minutes (until I fall asleep becuase of that lack of sleep issue!). 

The way I see it, so what I am a little fat, I like my cookies!  I didn't get a boyfriend back when I was thin and acne-less, so I dont' think I am going to get a boyfriend now, so why bother keeping skinny,  wearing sexy clothes or makeup?  Too much effort, I would prefer to eat my cookies!

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For someone that was a a thin child, overweight adult and now slim, there is a big difference between how you feel at 20 lbs overwight, barely in the healthy and smack dab in the middle of a healthy weight range.  Its true, you do feel better physically and emotionally at a slimer size.  I use to think I was alright when I was 185 because I swam everyday, ran, had a vegetarian diet, was tall etc.  Now that I am down to about 140-145, I feel so much better.  My joints don't hurt when I exercise.  I can walk, even run up the stairs without being winded.  

On the flip side, I don't believe in extreme diets.  Obesity is much more than diet and excersise.  Veganhippie, I use to go on crash diets were I ate very little, lost a lot of weight and felt horrible.  It took 6 years for me to lose this weight and keep it off.  I had to focus on my issues, how I felt about food and my body.  My whole outlook had to change.  

P.S. I hate the word fat, too.  So many negative conotations.  As if those that are overweight/obese are worthless, lazy and caused their own problems.

My own experience with weight has been all over the place, as well.  I've been healthy and unhealthy while being skinny, fit, overweight and everything in between.  It's taken me awhile to find healthiness in my body and mind.

It's such a simple question to such a complex issue, and one that resonates deeply with me.  It couldn't have been more timely, as my uncle is currently is dying from his extreme obesity and my directness above came out of my frustration.  The general unhealthiness of the US is something that is not okay-- this extends beyond just obesity.  But everything that is being proposed as a solution is merely just attacking the symptoms.  Radical change is necessary.

Re: the word "fat", I hate the word, as well.  I hate that that word is so emotionally charged.  But I also hate "morbidly obese".  And euphemisms aren't any better.

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First off, I think when discussing health, we need to differentiate between being overweight and overfat.  You can be healthy and overweight.  Likewise, I know a great many people who have small frames and do not weigh very much, but eat a diet comprised mainly of Hot Pockets and Miller Light and get winded climbing a flight of stairs.  While I am wary of “health at EVERY size,” I believe you can be unhealthy at any and every size.

I agree with this.

I am 25lbs overweight, it is my fault...damn you vegan cookies!!!!  

Staying thin is very hard though.  When my son was born, I was 185 six weeks after he was born (I am 5'6").  I was pretty tubby.  Then I took a year off of work, joined a gym and worked out 5 to 6 days a week, hiked in the summer when the weather was warm, and breastfed, I lost 50lbs!  My acne went away, I looked GOOD!  And I admit,  I felt good too.  Now, I am working full time again, and I am back up to 155 again and still gaining.  

It is really tough, I eat because I am bored, depressed, stressed, etc, but I have a sit down job, just getting out on the weekends isn't enough.  I have tried to diet restricting my calories, that is NOT for me.  I get hungry, and it isn't pretty, and I eat a vegetarian diet.  I can't join a gym, what good would that do just working out on the weekends?  And during the week there is no time for working out, I already restrict my sleep as it is because I have to cook/clean/bath/ and frankly, just take a few moments to sit down and watch a damn movie for 15  minutes (until I fall asleep becuase of that lack of sleep issue!). 

The way I see it, so what I am a little fat, I like my cookies!  I didn't get a boyfriend back when I was thin and acne-less, so I dont' think I am going to get a boyfriend now, so why bother keeping skinny,  wearing sexy clothes or makeup?  Too much effort, I would prefer to eat my cookies!

I hear you, especially about cookies. 

I believe there's beauty in diversity and everyone has a different weight 'set point'.  Crystal Renn, holy schnikes, that woman looks gorgeous and far more healthy than when she was underweight.  I don't believe everyone was meant to be a 4, 6, or 8.

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Maybe those are grossly overweight should be publicly humiliated, not accepted or just ignored.  If the only way to get them to lose the weight is to embarrass them, so be it.

HHhahahaaaahhaa. Um, are you serious? Please tell me this is some inside joke with other posters. I'm not even going to address the inherent cruelty in your remark. However, I would just like to point out that people DO publicly humiliate, alienate and ignore overweight people. It's called SCHOOL. Not only that but this has proven to be a very ineffective method--people who attract a significant amount of embarrassment and rejection due to (or percieved to be due to) their weight they usually end up more overweight or with an eating disorder. Your post reeks of ignorance in many ways.

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i get fat every night on the couch and watch rachel maddow with rice ice cream.

i think everyone should do it.  the world would be a happier place.

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Maybe those are grossly overweight should be publicly humiliated, not accepted or just ignored.  If the only way to get them to lose the weight is to embarrass them, so be it.

HHhahahaaaahhaa. Um, are you serious? Please tell me this is some inside joke with other posters. I'm not even going to address the inherent cruelty in your remark. However, I would just like to point out that people DO publicly humiliate, alienate and ignore overweight people. It's called SCHOOL. Not only that but this has proven to be a very ineffective method--people who attract a significant amount of embarrassment and rejection due to (or percieved to be due to) their weight they usually end up more overweight or with an eating disorder. Your post reeks of ignorance in many ways.

No joke.  It's my opinion, which I am more than allowed to have.  I'm also a social darwinist.  So, feel free to disagree with me, but at least be respectful while doing it.

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No joke.  It's my opinion, which I am more than allowed to have.  I'm also a social darwinist.  So, feel free to disagree with me, but at least be respectful while doing it.

I think it's humorous that you want to publicly shame people (disrespect them), but you want dissent for that idea to be presented in a respectful manner.

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disconnect (noun)  

Function: noun

: a lack of or a break in connection, consistency, or agreement <a huge disconnect…between the nation's capital and the rest of the country — R. J. Samuelson>

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Maybe those are grossly overweight should be publicly humiliated, not accepted or just ignored.  If the only way to get them to lose the weight is to embarrass them, so be it.

HHhahahaaaahhaa. Um, are you serious? Please tell me this is some inside joke with other posters. I'm not even going to address the inherent cruelty in your remark. However, I would just like to point out that people DO publicly humiliate, alienate and ignore overweight people. It's called SCHOOL. Not only that but this has proven to be a very ineffective method--people who attract a significant amount of embarrassment and rejection due to (or percieved to be due to) their weight they usually end up more overweight or with an eating disorder. Your post reeks of ignorance in many ways.

No joke.  It's my opinion, which I am more than allowed to have.  I'm also a social darwinist.  So, feel free to disagree with me, but at least be respectful while doing it.

what if that causes people to kill themselves out of shame... is that just social darwanism?  kinda of like, "well... at least that's just one less dumbass for me to have to dea with..."

hmm....

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Before I start my rant, I just want irreverent to know that I'm not talking about anyone who is overweight for medical reasons or anything like that, because I know those are exceptions to my rules...

Maybe those are grossly overweight should be publicly humiliated, not accepted or just ignored.  If the only way to get them to lose the weight is to embarrass them, so be it.

How do you propose this works?  Should people who are overweight for medical reason carry a card around? 

Moreover, how do you decide what constitutes a medical reason for being overweight? Genetic predisposition? Having been diagnosed with some sort of illness, like diabetes or cardiovascular disease? How do you decide what caused what? Did the "medical reason" lead the individual to be overweight or did the person's body composition cause the disease?

And how is a medical reason (like being genetically predisposed to having a heavier body type) any more acceptable a justification for being unhealthy than a reason like say... having an adverse childhood experience. Many studies have found that adults who were abused or neglected as children lead "unhealthier" lives as adults... they often struggle with things like obesity, substance abuse, etc. These individuals are no more in control of the experiences they faced as a child than the person with those infamous "fat genes".

I think it's important to rememember that our bodies are not composed in a vacuum. An individual's body is shaped not only by the his/her personal traits and behaviors, but also by the cultural, societal, and environmental conditions in which he/she lives. We know from epidemiological studies that obesity is much more prevalent in low-income families. Likewise, in upper-middle class families eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bullimia nervosa are much more common. It's interesting to me that we're witnessing a rise in both of these "disorders", which I personally believe are bodily expressions of an individual's suffering. Why is it we see them so differently? Doesn't an individual with a severe eating disorder also incur costs in the health care system at the expense of the rest of society? Many would argue that anorexia is a diagnosable mental illness, but taking into account the history of psychiatry's classifications of illnesses... the terminology we use to describe "mental illnesses" often changes depending on mainstream points of view.

I think it's cruel to admonish individuals for expressing their suffering (regardless of the costs it incurs upon society), and I think that's exactly what we do in our wars against fatness. Compassion, my friends, is what these individuals need. With love and kindness, even the deepest wounds can heal. In my personal experience, I don't make changes in my life when I'm being attacked or ridiculed by those who want me to change... it's only when I feel safe and supported that I am able to grow. :flower:

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