The internet has gone back and forth and back again on the proper protocol for talking about weight and appearance. There always have been and always will be slim people, well-toned fitness people, and curvy people (internet slang right now describes these women as thicc), and these individuals have always enjoyed wild success and positive responses from other social media users. More recently, though, people of average, above average, and even obese body types are fighting for equal acceptance and loudly denouncing “body shaming,” or the act of criticizing an individual for their shape.
The Body Positive (abbreviated bo-po) movement works from the premise that “healthy” looks different on different people — that is, you can be built more like Oprah than like Simone Biles and still be considered healthy. Furthermore, it’s not the job of strangers on the internet to keep tabs on the cardiovascular health of others. As such, members of the movement, by and large feminists, encourage self-love at any weight and shower users with affirmations of confidence and bravery for being who they are.
On the one hand, the Bo-Po movement is correct — it’s not the job of any stranger from the internet to monitor the health of random Instagrammers. Even in brickspace (the opposite of cyberspace), it’s wholly unnecessary to make unsolicited comments on a person’s weight, as there’s nothing to be done about it right then and there.
However, more and more research has made it clear: heavy-but-healthy just isn’t that healthy. In a study of over 500,000 people across ten nations in Europe, scientists took measurements including weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, and then returned to the same patients twelve years later to see how their health looked in the long run.
The researchers focused especially on those patients who were overweight according to the BMI recommendations but had acceptable if not excellent blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol readings. In that very narrow demographic, patients were still almost 30% more likely to have developed heart disease than those patients with similar readings on everything except for weight. Of course, both carrying extra weight and having poor “metabolic health” (the three aforementioned measurements) was still worse, but weight still matters significantly to long term cardiovascular health and longevity.
Cardiologists and even family doctors have known this to be true for a long time, as obesity and tubbiness are usually indicators of less than stellar eating routines and sub par exercising habits. A person with the appropriate diet and exercise will weigh less than someone who does not, and in the long run, the fitter person will be less prone to diseases of the heart and cardiovascular system.