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 Post subject: The BBC's new online "global fat scale"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:19 pm 
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I love Eva Wiseman.

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Eva Wiseman: Bravo for bikinis

The BBC's new online "global fat scale" is just another tool to demonise our curves. Isn't it time we got our obsession with weight in proportion?

The Observer, Sunday 5 August 2012


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"We're encouraged to fear fat itself. And it's this that makes so many of us uncomfortable in a bikini, dieting and depilating for the months leading up to our few days in the sun": Eva Wiseman on bikini season.


Ah, glad you asked – I am pro-bikini. Utterly. I am pro the bikini body. The body that spills milkily over an Asos waistband, the body that, with thighs slapping against each other, applauds itself as it runs into the sea. I am pro the rare feeling of sun on your belly and, after that initial fear of exposing yourself falls away, the fresh liberation when you realise nobody cares about your armpits. Nobody cares about your inner thighs. A selfish reason why I'm sad that Nora Ephron died is that she was one of few people who reminded us that, instead of a thing sent to intimidate and upset us, the bikini can make you feel fantastic. "Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26," she wrote. "If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're 34."

This is the season of cellulite gels, of Special K diets, and papers pitting celebrities' "bikini bodies" against each other (Kate Middleton came second, after Beyoncé). This is the season when we are encouraged to look down at our bodies and assess their value. It's a big season for bodies. So it seems natural that the BBC chose to launch its "global fat scale" calculator this month – an online tool that measures your BMI, then shows how it compares to the average for your home country and other nations. "You're most like someone from Burkina Faso," it told me.

I see what it's doing; I see that the BBC is highlighting research that says increasing obesity could have the same impact on global resources as an extra billion people being born – but I don't think this is quite the way to do it.

First, BMI. This is a controversial method of measuring health. The report by this year's All Party Parliamentary Group on body image recommended that policy makers "explore alternatives to the use of BMI alone", because (among other reasons) it tends to overestimate obesity, particularly in those with an athletic build. Which is a problem, especially when we discover that the threat of obesity is often misconceived.

A recent Gallup poll found that more Americans think obesity is a "very serious" social problem than worry in the same way about smoking, even though cigarettes are almost twice as likely to kill you. Gallup has been asking this question since 2003, and this is the first year that Americans have reported that they are more worried about fat than cigarettes. The rhetoric about obesity has intensified to the point where it's eclipsed smoking – a properly deadly problem, killing more than 100,000 people in the UK alone each year.

I thought the BBC's campaign would offer a counterpoint to the usual "your belly's obscene" message. I thought it would say: "Look, you might be considered fat in the UK, but you'd be skinny in Tonga!" I thought it would point out that people's ideas of beauty and acceptability, and even health, vary from country to country and, in doing so, make us feel more comfortable about our calculations. Instead it encourages us to analyse our own mass, our own shortfallings and then perhaps jump to our own wrong conclusions.

While scientific and well-meaning, it has a similar effect as the "bikini body" pressures. We're encouraged to believe obesity is an international illness, one that we must be alert to. But there are few of us whose problem is obesity. There are far more of us who will be affected by the way we're encouraged to fear fat itself. The flop of flesh above a bikini short – that doesn't hurt us; it's our dread and horror of it that hurts. And it's this that makes so many of us uncomfortable in a bikini, dieting and depilating for the months leading up to our few days in the sun.

It should be easy. But because of this misdirection – the way that BMI calculations tell us only half a story, and make us worry for nothing; the way we're encouraged to see our bodies only superficially, the swells, the dimples – it's not. It should be easy, but it's not.


Follow Eva on Twitter @EvaWiseman

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... body-image


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 Post subject: Re: The BBC's new online "global fat scale"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 2:02 pm 
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The global fat scale? Do they not think when they create stuff like this!

Also, yes to the talk about bikinis. I've never owned one and hope i have the confidence to wear one in the future! :)

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 Post subject: Re: The BBC's new online "global fat scale"
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:47 pm 
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eniebee wrote:
The global fat scale? Do they not think when they create stuff like this!

Also, yes to the talk about bikinis. I've never owned one and hope i have the confidence to wear one in the future! :)


I definitely don't feel like I could but someday, maybe. The closest I've ever come is a tankini.

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“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”


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 Post subject: Re: The BBC's new online "global fat scale"
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:00 pm 
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I'm actually not bothered by the BBC's global BMI scale, I thought it was quite interesting. I was just happy to see a mainstream article about the ridiculous weight scrutiny and flaws of BMI.


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 Post subject: Re: The BBC's new online "global fat scale"
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:09 pm 
orange is a state of mind
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I agree with you and I'm glad the scale doesn't bother you :) I think it bothers me to an extent, as not only does it 'define' you in terms of B.M.I, as underweight, normal, overweight and obese with no real firm basis, it compares you to your own country's population and then, in comparison to the world! I have problems with comparing myself to others because of feelings of inadequacy and perfectionism: if I put my details in and found out, say, 50% of the world was skinnier than me in my country- even if I was at a healthy weight I would feel that my weight wasn't good enough. I struggle with anything regarding comparisons.

Its like grades I guess? Anyone got a B instead of an A and felt like they had FAILED with a capital F? When in fact they'd passed really well, with a B? :P Damn comparisons!

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