Society Has a Double Standard About Junk Food
Ariana Grande's doughnut lick heard 'round the world riled a lot of people up-and not just for her hygiene issues, but also for her implications that the sugary treat is why Americans are so obese (ignoring the fact that it was she who walked into the doughnut shop...). Vlogger and positive body image advocate Meghan Tonjes was so riled, in fact, that she decided to drop some wisdom on the young star in a video response called "Hate the Donut, Not the Fatty," which has quickly gone viral.
"If I were 120 pounds eating a pizza in my underwear on Tumblr, I would be 'quirky,' and 'cute,' and 'real'," Tonjes says. "But if I'm 300 pounds and I'm eating pizza in my underwear, people are like: 'You're killing yourself,' 'you're disgusting,' 'you're everything that's wrong with America.'"
Not only does Tonjes make an excellent point about our societal double standard, but she also brings up the fact that junk food isn't healthy for anyone, regardless of weight. Just because you can eat an all-pizza-all-the-time diet and not gain weight doesn't mean you should. Even if you don't show the evidence on the outside, the damage is still being done on the inside. In addition, Tonjes says that many overweight people do eat a healthy diet and that their cholesterol, blood pressure, and other health markers are great. (And even if you are skinny, that doesn't mean you're healthy: check out 6 Signs You Need to Change Your Diet.)
"The amount of times I've been told in my life by friends, 'You really don't eat that much more than I do.' People are shocked that someone who looks like me doesn't sit all day on the couch and eat pizza," Tojnes adds. "We live in a culture that glorifies food, but then we hate the people that we believe are representative of that 'sinful' desire for food."
A big reason for this glorification of food while vilifying the people who eat it is based on Hollywood's super-skinny ideal, but some women are starting to fight back against that. Amy Schumer recently went on Live With Kelly and Michael to talk about how studio execs wanted her to lose weight for her role in the movie Trainwreck.
After saying that the studio hired her a world-famous trainer who essentially told her to just not eat food, she recounted the conversation: "I said, 'Don't you need that to live?' And they're like 'No, that is a myth'," she explained. "That's the Hollywood secret: Don't put food in your dumb mouth." (Here's how to sort nutrition fact from fiction: The Healthy Girl's Guide to Reading Food Blogs.)
Clearly, eating too little can be just as damaging to a person's health as eating too much. This is why we need to learn to stop making judgments about a person's health based on what they look like and instead encourage everyone to lead a healthy lifestyle, says Lynn S. Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). She adds that public scrutiny doesn't take into account the matters of age, race, genetics, underlying health conditions, environment, and socioeconomic status, among other things that factor into a person's build.
"The BMI [body mass index, a measure based off height and weight] was intended for populations, not to be used on an individual level. It is not a good barometer of health," Grefe says. "The bottom line is about helping people be healthy-and that's what we should be talking about, not how many pounds they weigh."
We couldn't agree more! The key to a healthy body image is a healthy lifestyle, not some arbitrary number on the scale.