When suffering from an eating disorder numbers become a very integral part of life. Weight, calorie intake, calorie output, and every number on every nutrition label are constantly circling the brain like a 90s cartoon character trying to do math.
Of course, there is also BMI. BMI, short for Body Mass Index, is technically the measure of body fat using height and weight. It calculates whether an individual is underweight, “normal”, overweight, obese, etc. BMI is a widely used evaluation by doctors to assess a person’s health. It is also a malicious meter of lies. I was obsessed with my BMI while I was sick, before I realized that where I fell on the chart was not at all an accurate picture of my health or anyone else’s.
First thing is first, the evil wizard who invented the BMI equation gave instructions to not use BMI the exact way we have been using it for decades. Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet (ridiculous name) said himself that the formula should not be used to suggest an individual’s “fatness”. Instead the equation was meant to measure obesity throughout a population to help the government determine how to allocate resources. He’s still an evil wizard in my book though for bringing the BMI into the world in the first place.
BMI does NOT account for gender, age, waist size, bone density, or muscle mass. For instance, athletes and people with strong bones will often be classified as overweight or obese because bone and muscle are denser than fat. Some of the fittest and healthiest #bodygoals you can think of including many body building competitors are technically obese?!?! That alone should tell you how grossly inaccurate this whole concept is.
The very notion of BMI suggests there are defined groups of underweight, ideal, overweight and obese people and that these groups have borders that are separated simply by a decimal place. That is completely ridiculous. Let’s just call a spade a spade, BMI is bullshit.
Before I had an eating disorder a doctor looked me in the face and told me that I was overweight. I went home with this information and internalized it. At that time according to the BMI chart all I had to do was lose 2 pounds to be considered “normal”. 2 POUNDS! Perhaps, had I not been PMSing that day or had gone to the bathroom before my appointment the doctor would have never said that to me. But he did, and I heard it. I set my weight loss goal and got crackin’. Then, long story short I went too far and ended up with anorexia.
Here’s the thing about my eating disorder. For the majority of the time I was sick, I was never “technically” deemed underweight according to the BMI chart. An 18.5 or below is considered underweight and for the most part I hovered at 18.8. My ED begged me to eat less and less to stay below that arbitrary threshold. But while my hair was falling out, my bones were sticking out, my mental health was spiraling, and I was starving any doctor could have looked at me and told me that I was “ideal”! Let me tell you, I was not. Fortunately, now I don’t know my BMI and I honestly can’t even take the time to figure it out because I know that is a completely garbage number.
Let’s just all vow to never check our BMI again or let it dictate our behavior towards our bodies. If a doctor tries to give you any advice based on it slap them!*
*Do not physically assault medical professionals, the slap should be figurative.
Hey, if you liked this post (or any of my other ones!) try liking the Ladle By Ladle page on Facebook! It’s a good way to stay up to date on the latest posts.