Genuine concern should be given to the unrealistic expectations celebrity culture unwittingly puts on all of us in regard to body image. Much damage has been done to many (women and men, girls and boys) because of unrealistic standards of fat-free “perfection”. However, obesity and its ensuing negative health effects are real problems which we must address as a culture. How to do it is the question.
I’m probably one of the farthest people from being a pop culture aficionado, however, I did watch the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show along with 117.5 million others. Lady Gaga, midway through the performance, had a wardrobe change and donned a bare-midriff outfit. After the performance, social media had Tweets, Snapchats, and Facebook posts saying that she has….gasp....flab on her belly! Now, there are more important and more ridiculous statements being put forth on social media at any given time than anyone can tabulate, but I’m going to pinpoint this assertion about belly flab for this Luminaries blog since I take these topics quite seriously! Okay, so, Lady Gaga might have had the tiniest bit of adipose tissue around her midsection, which while dancing and moving, jiggled just a tiny bit. 117.5 million people watched the performance (billboard.com) and at current statistical rates, 2/3 of those people are either overweight or obese (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm). This means that approximately78 million people who watched her performance have a BMI of 25 or more and are classified as overweight or obese. Normal BMI is 18.5 to 24.9; Overweight is 25 to 29.9; and Obese is a BMI of 30 or more. Lady Gaga has a BMI of around 20 - not anywhere close to being overweight or obese - and here are all these people sitting in judgment on one tiny bit of jiggling in her stomach area. I’m not a fan of Lady Gaga per se and this article isn’t to highlight her, but the issue surrounding body image judgment and….the horror (insert eye roll)….a little flab on an otherwise normal body weight person!
The reason I’m taking time to write about this is because of the judgmental attitude that is pervasive in our culture when it comes to body image. I am all for being at a healthy body weight - obviously! That is what Luminaries exists for, in part.
However, when we, as a society, sit on couches watching a performer while guzzling soda & beer, chomping chips, downing wings slathered in mind-numbingly sweet BBQ sauce, and have the audacity to call a perfectly normal, healthy body weight woman flabby, it raises my hackles!
Flabulously fit... I would take being a slightly flabby fit person any day over a stick-skinny, unhealthy, unfit person. However, if you are just flabby with no fitness or goal of a healthy body weight, I urge you to make a change starting today! Visceral fat is the mid-section fat underneath subcutaneous fat and it is what toxically surrounds organs and drastically impacts overall health. Visceral fat is not just the wiggly, squishy excess flab on the body just under the skin - that is known as subcutaneous fat. We should be working hard at reducing visceral fat and naturally subcutaneous fat will be reduced in the process as well. Getting back to the title of this post, I’d just like to say, “so what” if someone is a little flabby and has some subcutaneous fat that jiggles?!
My goal is to get people to the point where they are comfortable in their own skin, set free from food addiction and dependence, and yes, with significant weight loss, there is going to be some excess skin and flabbiness that remains even after a normal BMI is achieved. Perhaps your belly flabbiness is from bringing children into this world - what a blessing to have had this opportunity! Perhaps you work out and work out and just can't quite tone every part of your body. Or, perhaps you are overweight to the point that you know if you don't make a change soon, your life is in danger. I would be thrilled to help someone get from a dangerously high BMI to a normal BMI - and if they have some remaining belly flab or the skin under their arms jiggles a bit when they wave, then so be it! At least dangerous visceral fat has been reduced and many health improvements will be seen quickly!
This is a picture of a real-life example of visceral fat clinging to an organ. If your waist circumference is more than 35" for women and 40" for men, you are at a higher risk of disease. Not all fat is bad, however. Adipose tissue is classified as essential fat or fat that is stored as either subcutaneous or visceral fat. How much fat a person has and the placement of that fat can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, especially if the fat is distributed in the abdomen. (Nutrition: From Science to You; Blake, Munoz, Volpe, Rolls, 2011)
source: Peptide Clinics
So, what are my goals with this post?
My goal is to help people achieve their goals. Someone may have a goal to lose 50 pounds and get back to a normal BMI or a size they once had in their youth. That is a good goal. However, someone else may have a goal to whittle their body fat down to the point where they do not have any noticeable flab when they move about or sit down. That is also a good goal. I would prescribe a certain type of meal plan and fitness regime based on that person’s individual goals. However, if someone comes to me and they have a BMI of over 30 most likely a realistic goal for them will not be to end up a fitness model with 5% body fat! First priority, establish appropriate nutrition, vegetable-heavy meals, good gut bacteria, strict portion control, consumption of healthy fats versus transfats, and a restriction of simple carbohydrates and sugar. Combine this with regular, difficult, disciplined exercise and a basis of soul care that helps them figure out why they overeat, and they should lose enough weight over the long-term that puts them at a normal BMI and reduces visceral fat. Yes! However, if there remains some flab after this goal is achieved, are we to criticize ourselves or let others criticize us for a little remaining flab? I say no! Flabulously fit is a good goal.
Let’s be more accepting of people so that we don’t use our electronic voices (or naturally, our literal human voices) to tear people down for their body flaws. There are so many more important things in the world and so many more positive ways to express ourselves and use our time. We are told to encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thess 5:11). If you have enough time to type up a critique of someone’s belly flab, then you certainly have enough time to go make a green smoothie; kale for thought.
I’m going to assume no one on the Luminaries readership is prone to criticizing others for their body flaws….but…do you criticize yourself this way?