I’ve received a fair number of troll comments in response to this post. (I’m explicitly not referring to any comments that were published there but rather the ones I deemed unfit for publication on my blog.) Not only were these comments hateful, but most of them appeared to be operating on an inaccurate understanding of the word obesity. Which, if there’s one thing in the world I don’t like, it’s hateful misinformation. (If there are two things I don’t like, it’s hateful misinformation and pickles, but as pickles seem to be content to live and let live, I’ll focus my attention on the first.)
According to the World Health Organization, obesity is having a body mass index equal to or greater than 30, where body mass index is a height-weight ratio “defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres.”
In other words, it is a measure of weight as a function of height.
It is not a measure of percent body fat.
It is not a measure of blood glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, or resting heart rate.
It is not a measure of what I had for breakfast, what my daily food consumption looks like, or how many Big Macs I’ve had in the last week. (From what I know, Big Macs contain pickles in two places.)
It is not a measure of how often I work out or what my yoga practices are “really” like.
It is neither a measure of whether I’m lying when I talk about running three miles nor a reason “why [I] should just stay out of the gym entirely, so people don’t have to look at [my] rolls of fat.”
It is not a measure of my strength, endurance, or flexibility.
It is not an excuse to keep me where you don’t have to look at me.
It is not a way to silence me.
It is not a signal that “Jesus stopped loving [me] a long time ago.” (Really? Really? Certain trolls might want to invest in beta readers. Just sayin’.)
It is not a reference point for my intellect, whether I’m “only deluding [my]self that yoga is actually exercise” or I’m “too stupid to understand all the damage [I’m] doing to [my] body” or “dumb enough to think that fat can be healthy.”
It is not a reflection of my hygiene.
It is not a sign that “no one will ever fuck [me]” or a good prediction point for whether I’ll “die alone.”
It is not an invitation to police my body.
It is not “gross.”
It is not a marker of lesser agency, humanity, or worthiness of respect.
And I realize that not everyone is comfortable with their body size, for reasons that may or may not be the result of healthy choices. But for me —
My body is the biceps that lower me into chaturanga time and again with precision and control.
It is the triceps hold me — against gravity — at length in down dog.
It is the dense thighs that give my warriors power.
It is the abdominals that let me reach for the sky in boat and to find length and balance in half moon.
It is the open hips and strong back that allow me to fly in grasshopper.
I cannot say to my self, in any seriousness, “I love you for what you are, but would you please be thin instead?”
I don’t expect that everyone wants my body, and that’s fine. But — in spite of its size or perhaps because of it — it’s pretty awesome just the same.