Baffled by Numbers

Navigating information towards better health decisions.

How much should you weigh? (Part 1)

How much should you weigh? Depends who you ask

My 11 year will no longer wear just any cute t shirt. Rather, she is developing a somewhat preppy style, which is why we entered a ladies' garment shop specializing in striking black or white shirts with a stylish collar. Her being skinny and not yet a woman, I reached for the Extra Small ones, but when she emerged from the fitting room she said they were too tight. The Small she could breathe in, even if she needs a month or two to grow into them. Who wears the Extra Small ones, then, I wonder? And what has my daughter learned about her body when she discovered she could not fit into those? Is she too big? I want to say "no!", but I know I should say "depends who you ask."
Because too many people will give you the wrong answer. And too many things send out the wrong signals, such that tell us we need to starve. "You cannot be too rich or too thin." You've heard it before. So if you're thin, you should diet indefinitely. If you are fat - likewise. Just how much should you weigh and who should you trust with this decision?
Movies are no help either. Remember ‘The Devil Wears Prada', where the newby to fashion world, played by Ann Hathaway, gets ordained with a few indispensible tips. Hathaway reaches for the pasta and a co-worker shudders at her having carbs. "I'm a 6" Ann says, only to get the inevitable repost "6 in the new 14." Another co-worker who is mortifyingly thin, suggests her diet, which consists of fasting, and having a cube of cheese when you are about to faint. Hathaway's character never sets foot in the cafeteria, and becomes the slender bitchy figure so idolized by the magazine staff. Is that a good thing? Depends who you ask.
So who should you ask how much to weigh? To be continued.

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Photograph of a lady from St. Tropez who skipped breakfast, by Hammutal Shatz, courtesy of M.P.H.S. media

 

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Talya Miron-Shatz, Ph.D., is a researcher at Princeton University. She specializes in medical decision making of patients and health professionals.

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