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Monday, April 21, 2008

Inciting madness

There are thousands of problems in the world. Probably millions. Some are important enough for First World governments to tackle. Some are not. One that France has decided to tackle is skinny supermodels. I'm not kidding, see for yourself. I understand that this is a very serious problem affecting literally tens of people.

The fine, according to the article would be up to $47,000 ( I guess it's a Euro conversion thing). The problem is that this small of a fine will do nothing to dissuade the real culprits: The World Health Organization and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. If you want a real threat to people's body image, you need to look farther than Sports Illustrated. You need to look at the criminals purporting the Body Mass Index as a yardstick for health.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is about as comprehensive a tool for prescribing healthy weight as earth, air, wind and fire are at describing the elements. For those of you who don't know how it works, BMI takes your weight, divides it by the square of your height to give a number. If that number is over 25, the person is overweight. Parameters like muscle mass and bone size are ignored. Almost every NFL running back is "obese" according to BMI. I don't just mean Ron Dayne, I mean LaDanian Tomlinson.

So at any opportunity the media will grant them, the NIH will rail about the obesity problem and how it is getting worse. An especially misleading statistic is how many more Americans are overweight now compared to 1997. Do they mention that they lowered the threshold for healthy weight in 1998? Noooo.

I will stipulate that fashion shows do promote crazy body image. They also promote clothes that Caligula would have thought was bizarre. I don't think young women see a waif model wearing nothing but duct tape and emu feathers and think "that's what I want to look like". However, if professional boxer Laila Ali is overweight according to BMI, we have bigger problems than emu feathers.

1 comment:

ASG said...

All Hail the Wise MCO! At 6'8" 240, the BMI categorizes ASG as Obese. Granted, my current 240 is not NBA body worthy, and my college playing wait of 225 was much healthier given all the negative press about the health impacts of carrying body fat around the waistline. But Obese? Get outta here!