Saturday, November 20, 2010

Screw Inner Beauty

Screw Inner Beauty - lessons from the fatosphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby.

I thought this book would be a wicked revelation of how superficial modern soceities are. I thought it would show us what really fills the minds of people who emphasise on inner beauty over outer beauty. I expected a funny, honest, candid and sarcastic style. Well, this book turned out to be totally beyond my expectations.

Well, it did start off with some revelation of hypocrisy by magazines that tell you to love yourself the way you are on one page and then carry tons of advertisements telling you how to change your looks for the better. Then, the authors revealed that they are fat and not ashamed of admitting it. That’s fine with me. It’s their own bodies. But the insights and advice that follow show how little they understand nutrition and physiology. It’s true that most people who embark on weight loss programs succeed at first but regain all the weight they lost, but that does not mean that the science behind dieting and nutrition is all wrong. Yes, experts have been paid to endorse programs and products. Some have even written books aimed more at selling than informing, but the science still holds. People become obesed because they take in too much and burn off too little.

Healthy At Every Size (HAES) is an interesting concept. I might even agree with it. No matter how some people exercise, they just can’t get rid of their thick thighs or buttocks. In fact, the majority of people who attend slimming programs aren’t even overweight. These are genuine victims of “media standards”. They should go for counselling instead of extreme weight loss programs if they are healthy in spite of an isolated chunk of stubborn fat that just wouldn’t go away. Perhaps they should even read the more sensible parts of this book.

However, there are many people out there who are indeed overweight and at risk of serious chronic illnesses. It’s factually incorrect for the authors to say that the majority of people will not be able to maintain their weight within healthy limits even if they exercise sufficiently and eat good food. The authors further postulated (wrongly) that there is no such thing as good food and bad food - just eat intuitively. That would be a recipe for disaster.

They seem to have forgotten that very few of our ancestors were fat because there weren’t much junk food, travelators and escalators back then. Malnutrition was a bigger (no pun intended) problem than obesity. We live in very different times and going intuitively with food loaded with trans fats and sodium without any discipline or knowledge to discern is exactly the source of weight problems (with accompanying health issues) in the developed world.

The part about choosing doctors who don’t tell you are obesed and at risk of certain illnesses is preposterous. How about avoiding the doctor who tells you you’ve got a tumour that needs to be investigated? Aren’t they supposed to be confident and in full acceptance of their bodies? Why bother to avoid doctors who comment on their weight? While I admire the authors’ positive outlook in life, I can’t help but conclude that they are people who are happy because they are blissfully ignorant or in denial.

I can’t comment on their advice on social life. I’ve never been fat and if one of them is happily married and other dating successfully, I guess, it’s OK to take some advice from them. Finally, take a look at Kate Harding’s picture below. Does she look that fat to you? Think twice before buying her book.

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