BMI versus Reality: How Expectations of the BMI Distort our Body Image

CarolineHarper

Anyone who does not live under a rock knows how the BMI is used to distort the self image of people, especially women, by creating false standards of what is "normal." But many may not realize just how badly these standards distort our perception of our bodies. I see post after post on this site of women who are clearly average being made to feel like they are too fat because the BMI has created a false notion of what normal is.

To help debunk this falsehood, I have used a tool to create some side by side comparisons of what the BMI portrays as normal, versus the reality (in this case for a 20 year old female).

First, let us look at the BMI versus Reality for the 50th percentile, or in other words the mean.

50th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
50th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
50th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
50th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
50th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
50th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
50th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
50th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right

Second, let us look at the 85th percentile, which the BMI uses as the cutoff for labeling people "overweight."

85th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
85th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
85th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
85th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
85th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
85th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
85th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right
85th Percentile BMI-Left, Reality-Right

As you can see the BMI does not correspond to what is actually normal and thus it represents only a tool to marginalize and make people feel worse about their bodies.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this demo and how it changes your perceptions of what is "normal" (and for anyone thinking of posting something fat-phobic, bigoted, or hateful your comments will be removed and you will be reported)

BMI versus Reality: How Expectations of the BMI Distort our Body Image
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Most Helpful Guys

  • Feelicks
    Weight has always been poorly understood, oversimplified and stigmatised. Some people are just fat, it is what it is.

    Would be nice if we as a society dialed back the pervasiveness of sugar, which is a highly addictive substance. It's hidden in most foods, even healthy looking stuff.

    Packaging is also designed to make people overeat, with odd numbers of servings and such.

    BMI ultimately is just a number for setting a guideline, not the whole picture.
    Is this still revelant?
    • We don't need to change our bodies, we need to change the hate and the prejudice against people

    • The "epidemic" is a manufactured crisis, it is a result of multi billion dollar industries profiting off weight loss and corrupt iron triangles looking for a problem to solve. Quit listening to the hate and start listening to the movement.

    • You were warned that hate would not be tolerated.

    • Show All
  • MysteriousDarkness
    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Girl

  • Wait, you do know the last girl on the right is overweight, right?
    Is this still revelant?
    • Did you even read the article? The last girl on the right is the REAL 85th percentile, not what the BMI says is

    • she's still overweight lmao

    • Overweight is defined as the 85th percentile, she is at the 85th percentile therefore she is not overweight.

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What Girls & Guys Said

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  • LenaMunter
    It’s baffling how flawed your logic is. The reality is that most people in the west, especially in the US and the UK are very fat. That means that the average person will also be fat. You may call the average normal, but that doesn’t make it healthy, let alone beautiful.

    The first model above (i. e. only the the top left) is the only one with a body that looks alright to me. All the others look fat.
  • najekim
    One thing about BMI, they do not take into bone structure, muscle mass, body type, age, and other items more important. For example: many years ago I had a friend who lifted weights, had chiseled muscles and was 5'9" tall and weighed about 230-240 pounds. The BMI chart at the time with his height and weight said he was obese (BMI 34.7). Hardly.
  • Anonymous
    Dang... baby got back
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