Body Mass Index vs. Body Acceptance

Ever since I moved to the west coast, I’ve been bolstered by the awareness and high regard for healthy lifestyles. My first job in Portland was at L.A. Weight Loss as a receptionist. (Unfortunately, the company is now defunct because Corporate got greedy and prioritized profit from “magical fat burning pills” than actual weight loss support.) When I was hired, I weighed 195 pounds (Wow, that is hard to see in print.). The hiring manager asked me if I would be interested in participating in the plan if I were hired. Um, YEAH. While she never said it was a requirement, I would have been an idiot not to at least try it. Did I mention employees got it for free, plus half off all products? I lost 60 pounds over the 9 months that I worked there. It was a very strict but amazing plan—easiest to utilize when working at the company and living with your store manager. After leaving the company, I gained some of it back, and, having not yet conquered my desired lowest weight, I tried Weight Watchers, which seemed easier because you could have things like chocolate (all in moderation) and log your meals online, while with LAWL, you could not until you were ready for weight maintenance.
Since moving on from WW, I still receive a lot of emails. (Rejoin for only $6 a week! Stay away from that muffin-top with these amazing dessert recipes! WW success stories! MyFitnessPal sux!) The other day I got one about careers. I read the description and was curious enough to open the link. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about going to back to school, and a career in community health has been on my mind, so I was interested to read about what types of jobs are out there.
So, I click the Careers link.
Right at the bottom, this caveat: Upon hire, must be within 2 pounds of the Body Mass Index (BMI) healthy weight-goal range.
Wow. Now, I get it, there is a draw to seeing what you want to look like after completing the program. And granted, it wouldn’t look good to have an entire staff of obese people working at a weight loss clinic, but come on! If I was actually weight/height proportionate (at 5’1”, I am supposed to weigh 106-115 pounds), I wouldn’t have the beautiful curves that I have come to appreciate. I wouldn’t have enough of a belly to truly bellydance. Though I am a little larger than I’d like, I am at my healthiest—not because I’m skinny, but because I have taken up running and eating healthy foods. I am incredibly proud of where I am with my health and body today. I would be willing to bet that if I challenged a handful of “healthy” Weight Watchers employees to run a half marathon beside me, they couldn’t do it. While I understand the goal of Weight Watchers in providing healthy-looking mentors, I think perhaps they should rethink their definition of “mentor.”
While working at LAWL, I got comments daily on my amazing transformation. I obtained the nickname “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” and got my “before” and “after” pictures put up on the Wall of Fame in the office. You know what I noticed when my assistant was around? The clients didn’t bond with or respect her nearly as much. She was skinny. She was probably 110 pounds soaking wet. I’m willing to bet her “healthiness” had as much to do with auspicious genetics and a speedy metabolism than anything else, since she walked around the office with one of those monster-sized candy-bar-in-a-cup Starbucks drinks every day. The clients scoffed around her. When she expressed her sympathies about how difficult the program was, I could practically hear their thoughts. How the hell would you know what I’m going through, you skinny bitch? You know what? I thought the same thing when she said it to me. How would she know?
Losing the bulk of the weight completely changed my life, and I’ve never been happier with my body as I am right now, but I am nowhere near 106 pounds. I wish there was a caveat for body acceptance for lifestyle-changing companies like Weight Watcher’s, because someone with a different view on healthy can undeniably change a life.

3 responses to “Body Mass Index vs. Body Acceptance”

  1. Jill Avatar

    The BMI caveat for the job is interesting – especially since it is known to be a flawed measure:
    Congrats on your weight loss!

    1. beckydancer Avatar

      Yes, it’s fascinating what a wide range of importance the BMI can hold. Thanks for the link and comment, Jill!

  2. […] I went back and read a post that I wrote some time ago. It was a bittersweet commentary on the trials of my weight loss journey, […]

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