Is it better to be skinny and unhealthy, or overweight and healthy? Shouldn’t the answer be obvious? It is better to be overweight and healthy because you don’t have any medical concerns. Or wait — no — it’s so better to be skinny and unhealthy because you don’t have any social concerns. See? It’s a pretty messed up little troublemaker of a question.
First let me explain why I picked this topic: I struggled with an eating disorder. It’s very unlike me to say that to such a public audience, but if this column helps one person, then it makes it way less crazy.
Three years ago I gave up red meat. After about a year, I began losing natural weight or “baby fat.” People began complimenting me.
While I didn’t believe the compliments to be anything more than polite, it made me nervous that I now had expectations to live up to because people notice subtle changes. In the beginning, it was extremely gradual and seemed very healthy. But to make an insanely long story short, all the changes were like giant dominos that fell on top of me, and since I didn’t remove them, they melted, warping my mind, body and spirit.
Last year, the disorder’s demons grew too strong, and I knew I had to kill off the parasite. Trips to DXpress pretty much took care of that. Well, trips to DX with amazing friends who had open ears and big mouths that got me to go to doctor for help. But, despite being proactive, I am still left with some of the parasite’s eggs, and it’s a constant effort to keep them from hatching.
This mere column and huge topic is not solely about physical health, but also that of the mind and spirit. For example, take a female freshman college student sitting in her dorm every night, malnourished and lacking the energy to go outside. Now compare her to a girl that is nourished, and has the energy to go out and shake everything she can. Being skinny is not the problem — being malnourished and disgusted with yourself is. Being overweight is not the problem — being malnourished and disgusted with yourself is.
The first thing to remember is weight is not everything. It’s a very helpful tracker of your body, but it can never serve as the only one. Weight constantly fluctuates, muscle weighs more than fat, and weight re-distributes itself.
The second thing to remember is many health problems attack people regardless of their weight. Dr. Bob Ross, an obesity specialist at Queen’s University in Canada, said in an MSNBC article, “Even if you don’t see it on your bathroom scale, caloric restriction and physical exercise have an aggressive effect on visceral fat.”
To be overly skinny and malnourished causes many health problems. For instance, I remember combing out clumps of hair, learning that my body lacked the ability to absorb calcium. I would look at myself and fail to see any curves or softness, but instead discovered a pre-pubescent boy. And no, looks are not everything — but I lacked any yearning for intimacy, let alone the urge to go out and be seen in my new shape that required so many hours of exercise and excuses.