“You Just Need to Lose Weight” | Aubrey Gordon

Summary of: “You Just Need to Lose Weight”: And 19 Other Myths About Fat People
By: Aubrey Gordon


What if the word ‘fat’ was not just about size, but also about societal misconceptions and misguided notions about our bodies? In the book summary of “You Just Need to Lose Weight”: And 19 Other Myths About Fat People by Aubrey Gordon, we invite you to explore the world of fat representation, debunking common myths about weight, and gaining a better understanding of bodily diversity. Discover the history and implications of the body mass index (BMI), the ‘obesity epidemic,’ and the societal approval and disapproval of one’s body size and shape. Through this journey, we hope to unravel the complex relationships between weight and health and provide fresh insights into compassionate self-acceptance and body support.

The Power of Fat Acceptance

Author Aubrey Gordon shares her experiences of being called the word “fat” and how she doesn’t see it as an insult. She believes that avoiding the word only stigmatizes it, and it should be considered a neutral descriptor of one’s body. For Gordon and many others, reclaiming the word has helped in accepting their bodies. She believes fat should be treated the same as any other physical attribute such as being tall or blonde.

Debunking the Myth of Choice in Body Weight

The belief that individuals can choose to be thin or fat based on their motivation and willpower is a pervasive myth. Scientific evidence suggests that body weight is determined by a complex interplay of factors, including genetics, underlying health conditions, and metabolic rate. Even when fat people try to lose weight, they may not be successful due to several reasons. On the other hand, there are gainers who embrace their body size and reject anti-fat bias. The gist is that everyone has the right to accept their body and be comfortable in their own skin.

Flaws in the Gold Standard

The Problem with Body Mass Index (BMI)

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a popular method for measuring weight-to-height ratio. Although widely used, the formula’s history is shrouded in controversy. It was created by a Belgian mathematician named Adolphe Quetelet who believed that the mathematical mean of a population represented an ideal of normalcy. Unfortunately, the formula’s data was limited to male patients of French and Scottish descent, and this created a dangerous precedent of scientific racism and misogyny in the centuries that followed.

Quetelet’s formula was never meant to represent the individual, which is how it’s being used today. Relying on a homogenous measurement can lead to misdiagnosis and potential harm, especially for people of color. For example, the measurement overestimates the risk levels associated with weight for Black people, while underestimating those same risks for Asian communities. The relationship between weight, muscle mass, and health risks is unique to each person and based on a host of different factors such as human biology, the environment, and genetics. Although the BMI remains a popular tool in the medical community, it’s essential to acknowledge and address its limitations to avoid misleading information.

The Truth About the “Obesity Epidemic”

In the early 2000s, the issue of obesity became a public concern and the subject of media attention due to the World Health Organization lowering its threshold for what is considered “overweight” and “obese.” The media perpetuated the idea of an obesity epidemic with negative portrayals of overweight individuals. However, a controversial study claiming that being overweight caused 400,000 deaths per year was widely debated and later discredited due to outdated data sources and oversimplification of factors contributing to mortality. While weight can be a factor in health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, it is not the only factor and should not be relied upon as the sole predictor of health.

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