In episode 62 of The Dissect Podcast we discussed nutrition and weight-loss, and weight-gain too, of course. This reminded me of similar conversations we have had in the past.

Back in 2010 coincident with the Winter Olympics in Vancouver I read an article about ski jumpers seeking the ideal body mass index to perform well in their sport. Gold medal winner Simon Ammann is 5'8", 121 pounds. The governing body (FIS) was concerned that the quest to be lighter in order to fly further might result in disordered eating so they tied ski size and length to BMI. Drop under a BMI of 18.5 (19 next year) and you can't use the longest skis, which provide more lift. At 5'8" Ammann would need to gain 9 pounds to meet the requirement so he jumps with shorter skis.

But to me the skis are not the problem, the issue is the sport's governing body telling people how to live, to look, and to behave. I believe in personal freedom coupled to personal responsibility. If the athletes want to be light, and they are willing to eat less in order to do so, and they are willing to accept the consequences, and they are not costing the public money with their behavior I say let them drink all the kale smoothies they want.

Regarding more pedestrian albeit more visible eating disorders, I saw a TV clip at around the same time where a 115# celebrity gal donned a fat suit and walked around LA or NYC so she could understand what it's like to be ignored, mocked, and insulted based on appearance. Apparently, she had only been lauded and appreciated for her appearance in the past. It was a terrible experience for her, personally, and commentators chastised anyone who might consider mocking the obese or treating them any differently than they treat the weight-appropriate. At one point in the TV segment the girl exclaimed how horrified she was to be treated so unjustly (possibly because she is really, really beautiful and smart on the inside ... or whatever).

I couldn't locate the exact clip on the web today but just do a Google search for "cute girl in a fat suit" and you'll lose the rest of your evening. I watched a few "fat suit" video experiments and they are always single-sided. The suddenly-fat always talk about how horrible it is, and how sad they feel for those who live their lives that way, etc. but the reverse is never explored.

It is impossible to stuff a fat person into a "skinny suit" to walk around and remember—or experience for the first time—what it's like to be treated differently—positively—based solely on appearance, and to be recognized as not being “other”. Perhaps it would be a positive experience. Perhaps s/he would exclaim on camera how great it was to be treated normally, or to be objectified, and appreciated.

In fact, it might be just the sort of motivation s/he needs to incinerate the blubber others mock or somehow manage to avoid. The health argument has obviously fallen on deaf ears, i.e. despite toe and forefoot amputations, diabetics continue their version of disordered eating. And without practical reinforcement it's easy (and typical) to twist the vanity argument into something negative: “I shouldn't be treated differently because I'm fat. I am equal, I am ... blah, blah, blah.”

I take issue with another aspect of these cheesy 'experiments' as well. If most Americans are fat (the 2010 TV clip stated 66%) how could the overweight feel left out or marginalized? They are the fucking majority ...

Now I'm going to go stick my finger down my throat.