By: Kayla Marie
By social standards, if you’re thin and lightweight, you’re healthy. That makes sense, right? Wrong. We live in a society that emphasizes being skinny. In fitness advertisements, thin models are used. In cosmetic and clothing advertisements, thin models are used. It’s no wonder that many of us associate being healthy and beautiful with being skinny and weighing less. Even the name of this brand and product, "Skinny Teatox," is guilty. But the truth is, being skinny does not equate to being healthy, and being healthy does not necessarily equate to being skinny.
Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about being thin:
1. If you have no visible body fat, you’re healthy
A person can be skinny and not be healthy. Yes, body fat is something that can be an issue at a certain point, but many people don’t realize that the type of fat in our bodies plays a large role in the problems it can cause. As Discovery Fit & Health explains, visible subcutaneous fat, or fat under the skin, does not pose the same health risks as visceral fat, or fat that accumulates in the abdomen and around the organs and is not always visible from the outside. Visceral fat can pose the risk of diabetes and heart disease and other metabolic conditions.
2. If you’re skinny, you can eat whatever you want whenever you want and skip out on exercise
First of all, skinny or not, healthy or not, we should never just be eating whatever we want. Eating in moderation is a crucial rule of thumb for everyone and for every food. Eating whatever we want whenever we want can lead to visceral fat and so can the lack of exercise. Exercise is important for everyone regardless of body size. Discovery Fit & Health also emphasizes that skinny or not, exercise can help ward off health disorders such as diabetes and osteoporosis, and can also help lower cholesterol.
3. If you need to slim down, you should be counting calories
Counting calories won’t get your body healthier if you’re still eating the wrong foods. Yes, it’s fine to have so-called “unhealthy” foods in moderation on occasion, but regardless of calories, you should be filling your plate with fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and grains. If you stop counting calories and start looking at the types of foods you’re eating, you’ll find yourself feeling more satisfied after eating since you won’t be restricting your food intake as much and since healthier foods are typically more filling than junk foods.
4. Instead of counting calories, you can just skip meals or just stop eating
NEVER skip meals or deprive your body of food all together. Skipping meals is extremely unhealthy. It causes your blood sugar to drastically drop, leaving you feeling lethargic and seriously interfering with your insulin which could put you at risk for diabetes later in life if you practice this regularly. This can also slow your metabolism, leading to more food being stored as fat instead of being metabolized into smaller units that can be used by your body. Skipping meals and ceasing to eat all together can lead you down a treacherous path to developing an eating disorder (ED), which is a serious and potentially life threatening battle to fight.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, as many as 24 million people, both men and women of all ages, are battling an ED. The struggle to become thin is so real, that those suffering with an ED will sometimes stop at nothing to obtain their unobtainable goals. Why do are they unobtainable? Because no matter how much weight is lost, no matter how many ribs are showing, nothing is good enough. This mentality of not being good enough is largely influenced by the endless societal push to be skinny. Dancer Katey Tracey battled an ED and knows all about the pressure to be thin. In an interview for a NOVA documentary called Dying to be Thin that aired on PBS in 2000, Katey noted that “Everybody wants to know the secret to being thin, because that's success. That's love. That's glory. That's power.” Believing that being thin is love and power is a dangerous outlook to have. As Katey continued on, she confessed, “That’s a crock.”
Katey is right. All of the crash diets, glorified weight loss pills, and crazy exercise routines are bogus. If you want change in your life with regards to your body, make those changes in a healthy manner. You can join a local gym or use the resources that you currently have at home to come up with a healthy exercise routine that you can couple with healthy eating habits. If you are already trying to “get skinny” in an unhealthy manner, think you may have an ED or know someone who does, the National Eating Disorders Association has helpful information and resources for treatment referrals, support groups, and so much more.