On doctors, BMI, and other bullshit (Guest post)

This week I had my annual visit with my doctor. I am doing great and really only need a renewal for my prescription of Ventolin for stress-induced asthma for when I run. I have never felt healthier in my life and have lost 35 lbs in the last two years thanks to a radical change in diet as well as workout intensity and regularity, including running (which I love).

I had a little smirk on my face when my doctor opened up by saying “You have lost weight”! What girl has not internalized this kind of discourse that requires of us that we be tiny and light and occupy as little space as we can?

So I was pretty happy with myself until the end of my exam where he asked how tall I was. I knew what was coming. I said: “Look, we are not going to get into BMI stuff because we both know it is bullshit!” He knows me and he knows I can be stubborn but also well-informed. So he asked: “How so?” My answer, of course: “Anyone who is muscular is going to bust the BMI and I am very muscular.” I thought this was going to be the end of it. No!

He pulled out a measuring tape and measured my waist and determined I have to lose 2 inches! On what basis I do not know. Now I am not going to claim there is no flab on my belly that I would not love to lose. But 2 inches? What he recommended? Doing abs! Ok, seriously! I went into how I strength train and run and do abs and can do 2 minutes of planking, no problemo! He said to try and asked: “You feel healthy?” Hell, yeah! Parting words.
I was really miffed by that whole thing because I am a very active person! I will not starve myself to lose 2 inches of waist measurement and I will not stop drinking, thank you very much. I probably do more exercise than most people, including my doctor, and I do feel the healthiest I have ever felt and the strongest! So what gives?

What I did when I got home? Ran to my closet to try all my pants to see if I had gained any unwanted weight and expanded in space. Because girls can’t, right? Of course everything still fits fine and no need for shopping (bummer). But I was still in the gym this morning busting my butt out with intervals and circuits because … that 2 inches gotta go.

With all of that being hyper conscious about all of these things and rejecting such fundamentally flawed discourses about women’s bodies, why can’t I just shake it off? The power of socio-cultural construction is indeed tremendous. And this is why we need to discuss such issues, be supportive of one another, and insist on being proud with feeling good.

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