A History Lesson on "Fat"

A History Lesson on "Fat"

History lesson time: Why are we so concerned with not being "fat?"

The concept of being "fat" didn't exist much before the 1800's, something we've attributed to scientific advancements but actually holds little bearing in research. 

"For most of human existence, no one dreamed of restricting their food intake to lose weight," writes @chr1styharrison in her book Anti-Diet. "Getting enough food was the main concern, and plumpness signified prosperity and well-being." (p 17)

But that changed as white Americans began comparing themselves to others in the 'melting pot' the US was purported to be. 

"The emerging white middle class was looking for ways to assert and maintain a dominant position in relation to the new immigrants," Harrison writes, "and body size became a key point of comparison." (p. 25)

Much of what we have embraced regarding the health of our ideal body size and shape have come from white male scientists who, in the 1800's, were using the field to justify and uphold the status quo that put them above white women and people of color. 

"...fat bodies were deemed 'uncivilized' and therefore undesirable long before the medical and scientific communities began to label them a health risk..." (Harrison, p. 27)

Women, particularly women of color, have been caught in the resulting under toe, sacrificing health for an unrealistic ideal. 

And a closer look at the "data" shows us what may really be to blame for our declining health position:

"Whereas the alleged 'obesity epidemic' is a fabrication," Harrison continues (p.55), "any true uptick in the national average BMI over the years tracks nicely with the continued growth of the diet industry and diet culture in general."

Changing this narrative means changing the way we view body image and accepting each size as fully human - our own, as well as that of others. Our focus at 5:17 is to meet clients where they are to develop a self-love and acceptance that truly embraces the individual and a personally relevant definition of health, free of the societal pressures and stigmas. Our upcoming program Overwhelmed to Overcomer focuses on helping women in Campbell, San Jose and across the US interrupt, re-structure and re-program emotional states and behaviors that aren't working for them, in order to fully embrace who they are and create the lifestyle that will truly work for them. Learn more here

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