Illustrated BMI Categories

Updated: Go here to see it! (Viewing it as a slideshow with the info turned on is particularly awesome, as Sweet Machine pointed out.) And go here to see a post about it.

Thanks to everyone who sent photos, and keep ‘em comin’! Send a photo along with your height and weight to katesblog at gmail dot com.

Please note that because the point of the BMI project is to show how fucking insane the cut-offs are, I’m generally only using people at the very low end of their categories for that. One exception is the awesome Fat Girl on a Bike — and in a swimsuit! — Sarah, rockin’ the morbid obesity category. Action shots like that are most welcome (though I am trying to keep things worksafe, btw). Basically, anything that clearly busts a stereotype, beyond just “I’m fat AND pretty” — ’cause you’re ALL fat and pretty, except for the ones who aren’t fat — is what I’m looking for for that. (Oh, the other exception is the obesity category, because I stopped dividing it into 2 on the Flickr page, but I’m still including both ends of that category.)

For the Shapely Readers photostream, I want all shapes, sizes, and degrees of adherence to fat stereotypes! And because it’s been asked a couple times already, lurkers are totally welcome to contribute! If you read the blog, I want your photo!

Oh, and yes, men are absolutely welcome for both projects, too, and I’d love to see more people of color.

Huge thanks to Mindy, Laurie, Joy, Fillyjonk, and Sheana for agreeing to go first.

Oh, and hey, this ought to go without saying around here, but there will be NO criticism of any participant’s body in comments, for any reason.

161 thoughts on “Illustrated BMI Categories

  1. Hahaha that shot of Sheana is killing me, I looooooove it.

    I feel bad that I’m the only one with no face, so please put some more midsize fatties “obese with high risk of associated illness.”

  2. I fluctuate between ever-so-slightly-underweight and minimal normal (BMI 18.4-18.5). Are you interested in having that category represented?

  3. Hehe, I kind of want to do this but my camera is being stupid. I will go borrow someone else’s and do it!

    My BMI is 21.4 since its sharing time!

  4. I’m 190ish, according to the most recent weigh-in at the doctor, and I am 5′ 4″. Is that near the wanted Fillyjonk non-headless look you’re looking for? Cause I’m perfectly willing to send in a beheaded (hee!) picture.

  5. This is really great. It’s one thing to understand that the BMI is fucked up, and another thing to see a picture of what the BMI considers “overweight” and “normal”. I mean, holy shit. I couldn’t be that skinny if I was half the weight I was, I think my bones alone would be considered “overweight”. =P Okay, slight exaggeration, but honestly.
    The photostream is like a poster for Health At Every Size, though. All these women are gorgeous — and the poses from Sheana and Joy crack me up!

  6. Karen, I’d love a pic, but you’re actually in the lower end of the “obese” category — with merely a “high” (not “very high”) risk of associated illness. Huge eyeroll, natch. :)

    But I’m looking for more pics in all categories now, so send away!

  7. I’ve been reading this blog for a couple of weeks, loving it!!!
    I love how this totally blows BMI out of the water. I never would have identified the “overweight” woman as overweight, and I think the “obese” women have beautiful bodies.
    I’d like to contribute a picture my 24.5 BMI self (I fluctuate quite a bit, but that is about my highest weight) – right at the high end of “normal.” (I HATE the word “normal”!)

  8. Isn’t Sheana technically “morbidly obese”? Because I think that terminology just brings the lulz home.

    Laurie, yeah, that “overweight” woman is a fox!

    We should collect men too, right?

  9. My BMI is around 53. Apparently I am about to keel over of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis and possibly also a stroke any minute now.

    I don’t know my exact weight because I’m still not over the anxiety-inducing stepping on a scale causes. It’s not that I can’t deal with being 300lbs or whatever it is I estimate (actually I’m kind of impressed: AWESOME! I take up SPACE!), it’s more of – I was forced to step on the scales and then humiliated and berated and shamed up until I was about 17 or so, and that kind of thing really gets to ya, especially if you have severe anxiety disorder anyway and besides like I do. Brainwashing, man. I’m slowly de-programming that particular issue.

  10. Isn’t Sheana technically “morbidly obese”? Because I think that terminology just brings the lulz home.

    I used “extremely obese” because that’s the official term according to the government. But morbidly obese is definitely funnier. Especially since Sheana took a pic especially for this project (not the one I used) and titled it “I can has morbid obesity?” on her Flickr.

    I might have to change it.

  11. My brain done broke o__O I just don’t understand why I can look at these women who are so much like me physically (Fillyjonk has almost the same exact stats as me) and think they look so lovely, and hate myself. Still trying to internalize the FA message *pounds on skull*

  12. Kate, this project is amazing! Thank you so much for doing it, and to all the lovely women who participated. :o)

    I’d be happy to send a photo if you’d like (okay, translation: I’d really love to be a part of this, please please please). Joy and I are pretty close BMI-wise, though that may not be what you want if you’re looking for an even spread of data.

  13. (Fillyjonk has almost the same exact stats as me)

    Fillyjonk also has almost the exact same stats as Joy, I might add. 1 inch and 1 pound make the difference between a “high” risk and a “very high risk” of obesity-associated illnesses.

    And Andrea, I’d love to have a pic from you! And anyone else who wants to play!

  14. Mine is 17.2, underweight technically but I eat so damn much.. People are always like, “Omg but you’re underweight. You should try to gain some.” Doctors say I’m perfectly healthy. I love the way I look anyways.

  15. Kate, I’ve just sent you my stats & pic to add to the list. I know I’m wearing ridiculous heels in the photo, but I hope it helps!!

    My BMI is 27.5 with a weight of 192 at 5’10″ To be ‘normal’, I’d have to drop 20lbs, but to be honest no matter how much I work out, my body stays the same weight. It just ups the muscle mass and drops the fat at the same ratio. Gotta love the body, it does what it wants to when all is said and done!!!

  16. Lethe – I can relate. All these women look great to me! So why would I think any less of myself? These pics are one hell of a great lesson. Awesome idea, Kate – can’t wait to see more!

    Also, what I find striking is just how quickly one slips into the underweight/overweight category. There really isn’t much wiggle room, is there?!?

  17. 5’11″ and fluctuating between 145-160 here. My BMI is 22.3 (I think I’m at the top today).

    These posts are very empowering to everyone. People are getting our of their shells.

    I like them Kate.

  18. Hey Kate, I currently don’t have a camera handy, but as soon as I do (in about two weeks), I’ll send you my pic. At 5’11 and 264 pounds, I have a BMI of 36/37 – and I’d love to be part of the project! :-)

  19. By the way, I think everyone represented looks great in their own way, and I was a little shocked to see the categories some fell into. I realised that I really don’t know what ‘underweight’ or ‘obese’ actually looks like unless it’s really extreme. I was also surprised to know that the ‘overweight’ woman was classified as such- I’d have pegged her as normal weight.

  20. This is the most worthwhile blogging action I’ve seen in a verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry long time. Well done Kate for coming up with this and getting it off the ground. I will have to search through my photos to see if I have a suitable picture to add.

  21. I’m so not an interesting BMI (I’m at 24.1 at the moment, which makes me about 4 lbs from overweight) but can I pleeeeeeeeeze be involved? I’ll get my boyfriend to take a good full-length shot.

  22. oscah, that is precisely the idea! People go around talking in horrified tones about how whatever percentage of the population is “overweight or obese,” and most people’s minds go to Discovery Health shock programs on bedridden folks with glandular disorders. (Kate and I have wondered several times where they think all these people ARE, because clearly 60% or whatever of the people walking around any given city are not fat.) But that’s not what those stats mean. THIS is what those stats mean.

    One of my least favorite bingo squares is the “but I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about people who are obese” one. I hope this project can be a wake-up call for people who think “overweight” means “struggling for breath” and “obese” means “immobile.” I want people know who’s really being targeted by fatphobic “health” initiatives. Newsflash: We look like your friends. And not even necessarily your fat friends.

    Kate, you’re doing a great thing here.

    And Ducky, goddamn, I would love to see you belly dance. I bet your shimmies totally destroy the universe. HIPS JEALOUSY

  23. I just sent mine in.

    I am 5’3″, I wear a size 14/16 and I weigh 170 pounds. That gives me a BMI of 30.1.

    To have a BMI in the middle of the “normal” range (21.3) I’d have to lose about 50 pounds! That, or grow a foot taller, which is probably about as likely as me losing THIRTY PERCENT OF MY CURRENT WEIGHT. How can so many people think the BMI is a valid diagnostic tool?

  24. When I was in college, I used to tell my friends that I didn’t think I was “fat”, just a “little overweight”, and of course in the way of friends everywhere, they exclaimed, “You’re not overweight at all!” But who are you going to trust – your best friends in the entire world, or the BMI calculator?

    These pictures are all incredibly beautiful. I’m so pleased to be a part of this.

    /delurk

  25. This is very cool. I accompanied a friend to the ER the other night, and when she was asked her weight, I was surprised by it — we really do have screwy ideas of what different weights look like.

    I’m in the “normal” BMI range, but even that doesn’t capture where my true setpoint seems to be — if I were on the lower end of normal, I’d consider myself underweight, and with my specific frame, I can’t imagine gaining enough to be on the higher end. But that’s probably b/c I am extremely small-boned, as is my mom. And my mom at 52 already has osteoporosis, so it’s hardly a healthy body frame I’ve inherited.

  26. Here’s a little more compliment action: I CANNOT STOP LOOKING at HLB’s picture. I had to break out the Mr. Thirsty and the bib.

  27. It has been said before, but there are (at least) FOUR main things wrong with the BMI scale.
    1) It does not take into account the size of one’s frame. Some people are small boned, some people are medium boned and some people are big boned. I am medium. When I was a BMI of 17.4 you could cut glass with my clavicle, count every rib when I was in a bathing suit, and poke your eye out on my hip bones. Ashley has a BMI of 17.2 but doesn’t look nearly so bony – she probably has tiny little bones like most models. Many of the people on the threshold between 2 categories are there because of bone structure.
    2) It does not take into account boobs. My sister is my height and at times has just fallen in the overweight category. She is also very will endowed. She weighed them once (not scientifically, but close enough). Each one weighed 5 pounds! So she is automatically 10 lbs. heavier because of her boobs. 10 lbs is more than enough to put someone into “overweight” or “obese.”
    3) It does not take into account muscle. As just about everyone knows, muscle weighs more than fat. How else can you account for the fact that a lot of athletes, who are in great shape, fall into the overweight category?
    4) It doesn’t take sex or age into account.

    Looking at these pictures should be enough to convince anyone that BMI is not a good guide. Bodies are different and they can not all fit in a “one size fits all” scale – one size (or number in this case) does NOT FIT ALL! Next time I see a report on how overweight our country is, they should show the women in these pictures, not the headless people who are portrayed as lonely, pathetic and on their death beds. I am guessing if the country saw these pictures the obesity crisis wouldn’t be thought of as a crisis anymore!

  28. Kate, this is the best idea you’ve ever had.
    Well, one of them. You seem to have a greater than average output of great ideas :)
    Thanks for letting me be a part :)

  29. I read this blog all the time, first comment. this is an awesome project and I have loved looking at these pictures. Dee-lightful!!

  30. Mindy: You just nailed it right on the head and into the ground. I have a very large frame (always have) and I am very dense (as in I’m super muscular.)

    Even if I were to lose weight, I’d never be able to fit in that box the government tells me I’m supposed to fit in.

  31. My BFF and I are going to do this — it’s SUCH a great idea. So we’ll be sending pics in this weekend. I think that she is skinny but she (and her family and others) think that she is fat. The world is crazy. Again, such an awesome project. Yay you!

  32. I’m sending my pic, and one of my hubby. I’m 5′ 8″ and 391.2 lbs, he’s 5′ 10″ and 251 lbs. He’s obese, I’m morbidly obese. I’m one of those people they are talking about when they think house-bound, can’t get-out-of-bed-fat. I would also be the headless, from-the-back, fat-ass shot used to illustrate the obesity epidemic. Guess what, none of it’s true. BTW, my BMI is 59.

  33. I’m so proud that both I and Moxie are illustrations! Like all morbidly obese individuals, of course, Moxie loves it when strangers touch her belly.

  34. Thanks for including me- although I don’t like that picture, and not because I feel bad about my body (I still struggle with it, though) but because I hadn’t accepted my recent weight gain yet and was still squeezing into unflattering clothes. Unfortunately, I do not have any full length pictures (although my BF might) in my super-fantastic clothes that I have been getting since getting introduced to FA.

    Another thing to look at is my <a href=”http://flickr.com/photos/katydaqueen/sets/1462511/”.Flickr set (which is out of date- I need to upload) I was teased as the fat girl starting in middle school. I have ranged from 160-230 since my senior year. I have overfocused on that fact for way too long. I am beautiful, I am intelligent, and I deserve what life is now bringing me.

    OK… done now. A few more hundred times, and I might overcome my conditioning.

  35. The gallery is just astounding. Several times i had to stop to pick my jaw up off the floor. I mean, i knew intellectually that the BMI was utter crap, but to actually have such beautiful examples was really powerful.

    Today i was sneaking around Target, looking for the scales. Found one eventually – out of the box even. Hummed the Mission Impossible theme as i looked around to make sure no one was watching – i didn’t want anyone to tell me i had to buy the scale, just because i stepped on it. lol. It was actually really fun.

    So then i come back to a computer, check out the gallery, and i’m seeing women who have the same numbers, or really similar ones. Immediate, my dork brain shouts “BMI WonderTwins, UNITE!”

    I would say i need to get out more, but it appears that getting out doesn’t really do much good. If anything, it just makes me more goofy. lol.

    I need to get new pictures so i can be in on the goodness.

  36. Krista: nice hat. Lindsay: cute Target story. :)

    I believe strongly in serendipity, which is why my husband and I bought a digital camera (two of the last remaining digital age virgins!) last weekend. I have a slick self-shot but it’s not body length, so my hubby will be enlisted to help. You are still accepting submissions? I am 5’6″, 260 pounds, and have a BMI of 46. MORBID, I tell you. MWAH HA HA HA… You should probably let me know in the next 24 hours whether you want more pics, because if the MSM is to be believed I’ll be in the hospital come Monday. Or maybe I’m taking a break from hospital to write this. Goodness knows I can’t get from the couch to the computer without a scooter.

    Oh! And another thing! Do you want more pictures of boys? I happen to have one here! I could, uh, convince him to let me send in a picture. He is a 32.4 model.

  37. I’d love to send a pic of myself. I just have to take one first. :P Wait… I think I have some body shots of myself from my school’s equivalent of prom. Dang, I don’t. Not full body shots anyway.

    I admit I would have never guessed some of those people were obese! Geez, it’s no wonder 60 something percent are considered overweight by BMI–the standards are just so ridiculous!

    I have family members who look overweight but are actually ‘normal’. In a sense, that too, proves BMI is crap. We’ve got ‘normal weight’ people with teh grossss fatnessss. That has to be UNHEALTHYYYYY though. I mean, right? Right? :lol:
    Incidentally, a lot of people react with “That’s IT?” when I tell them my weight. I do actually look skinny, but I guess I look a few pounds heavier than I actually am. :P

  38. Wow. I guess I am morbidly obese no matter what my BMI is.

    “There are several medically accepted criteria for defining morbid obesity. You are likely morbidly obese if you are:

    [...]
    –unable to achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period of time, even through medically supervised dieting”

    So 95 percent of dieters are likely morbidly obese?

    (I was looking up what qualified as “morbid [sic] obesity” versus regular ol’ obesity.)

  39. I just realized that “look overweight” is a poor phrase to describe my family members with. Basically said family members tend to have a weight that the average person overguesses by at least 10 lbs. There we go.

  40. This is an amazing idea Kate and I’ve already sent my shot in (5’6″, 180lbs, BMI 29 – 6lbs shy of obese!). Thanks to that BMI scale letters have been sent home with me since I was 7 saying that I was overweight and that something needed to be done. My chronically dieting mom gladly inducted me into the “how to be an embarrassed and contrite fat person”. Believe you me when I say that I was not a fat kid (looking back at photographs) despite the fact that I firmly believed I was. So much so that when I gained 80lbs on a combination of anti-depressants and bad-news-for-my-body birth control I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE. I was that out of tune with my body.

    If only I had shots like this to refer to – to see that BMI really doesn’t mean squat (especially when it comes to that AMAZING TRIATHELETE! HOLY EVERYTHING! – I let my fatty fat fat-ness dictate that I am not “sporty” and am only now starting to develop body awareness…something that would’ve been great earlier in life, but I’m happy that I’m starting at all. THANKS SHAPELY PROSE!)

    Ok. Enough with the bad punctuation and RANDOM CAPS. I’m off to do some real work. You know. Offline. :P

  41. I’ve been looking at this thing ALL DAY. It’s brilliant, and beautiful, and…mind-boggling. And incredibly, incredibly affirming. I’ve always been tiny as hell, but I’ve still wasted months – probably years – on the fear that someone, somewhere, thought I was fat.

    Somehow, these pictures beat that fear. For the first time in my life, I just…get it. We’re persons. And that’s okay.

    (Oh, and I’m not actually fifteen – it just looks that way in the photo. And in real life.) ;)

  42. So glad I have the chance to show people what “obese” really looks like! I’m also hoping to bust the stereotype that fat people can’t be happy because I was incredibly happy in that picture and I think it shows =)

    Kate has a lot of attractive readers! This really does show how ridiculous BMI categories are. I think the biggest surprise to me was seeing fillyjonk’s picture… I know it’s silly since my BMI is not that far off from hers, but I really did imagine someone with a BMI of over 35 being much bigger! It’s hard not to internalise stereotypes.

  43. I’ve still wasted months – probably years – on the fear that someone, somewhere, thought I was fat

    It’s panopticism, baby! We are so convinced that others are policing us that we police ourselves before anyone else gets a chance to. For me, this has been one of the hardest bits of internalized fatphobia to get rid of.

  44. “I’ve still wasted months – probably years – on the fear that someone, somewhere, thought I was fat.”

    When I read that I had to think of my mom. Her side of the family (and I really mean EVERYBODY) is extremely weight-orientated and they badger everybody who isn’t a size 4 (or less). As a teenager, my mom practically starved herself so that she would be accepted by her relatives because she was ZOMG SO FAAAT. She had a size 6, maximum 8 – totally faaat *sarcasm* – and was told that she was “almost perfect” but still needs to tone her “paunch” (her hips and clavicle were jutting out so far they could have cut someone at that point).
    When we recently looked at old pictures she sighed wistfully and said “I was so beautiful back then, and I wasted so time listening to others tell me I was unacceptable. If only I could turn back time and tell myself that I’m perfect JUST THE WAY I AM.” IMO she is still beautiful, but I’m sad that she had to listen to jerks who made her feel inferior and thus screwed her body image.

  45. Hiya,

    Thanks for compiling these pictures; really insightful. I’ve always disliked the BMI as they seem to totally disregard people’s figures.

    At the time this photo was taken (http://farm1.static.flickr.com/16/23297892_8f36076f3b.jpg), I had a 40 inch bust, 27 inch waist and 40 inch hips, AKA hourglass figure. I’m 5’3″, and weighed 140lb, which puts me 0.1 away from being overweight. Stupid.

    I was vegan for 3 months, lost weight and recalculated my BMI. I was still 5’3″, dropped to about 120lb, making my BMI 21.3, slap bang in the middle of normal. My boyfriend, work colleagues, friends were all telling me I looked thin and had lost a lot of weight. I was a lot less happy with my figure. I went to the doctor to discuss it, and she felt my weight loss was fine, normal, and that I was now healthy. I gave up the veganism because of a combination of the weight loss and I found it difficult to eat anywhere apart from my own home. I’m now trying to steadily put the weight on. I haven’t got any pics of me earlier this year in the photo stream.

  46. Hi I love this project. It’s really itneresting to see many different shapes of fat. I would encourage you to include in your call for more bodies, a specific mention of bodies of different colors. Going through the slide show it really struck me how white this was. One way to change this, if that is something you think is important, would be to encourage people of color to post pictures of themselves. You might find this post useful. It’s about promoting diversity in sci-fi/fantasy markets, but I think the advice is applicable more broadly.

    To be the change I want, I plan to submit a photo to you of myself (though I’ll need to find a scale to weigh myself).

  47. Thanks, Julia. I’ve uploaded a couple people of color this morning, but the first batch was definitely awfully white. (The men are just starting to trickle in, too.)

    Looking forward to your photo!

  48. I’d like to send a picture but I couldn’t find a way to email you. I’m black, and I am currently 4’11 and in the 120ish range (so I’m at the maximum “healthy” BMI.) I used to be 148 and considered obese.

  49. Never mind, I submitted one. Excuse my decaffeninated state.

    The slideshow made me feel a lot better. I was very upset thinking “I lost all this weight and I am still overweight/almost overweight” (depending on my fluctuations), and it didn’t help when I was obese because of a medication and put on a 1200 calorie a day diet and told to exercise 4 or 5 days a week, and then 1100, and then 1000 and not believed when I showed my diet and exercise charts. The doctor simply refused to believe my medication was making me gain weight even though my psychiatrist knew it was and changed my medication so I stopped gaining weight. It’s amazing to see people that are in the same boat as me, and who look really good, and how small some of the overweight/obese people look.

  50. I just want to say that I wish the BMI Project were Wardrobe Remix. I want Jannette’s dress and Rachel’s jacket, but the photo info just says how fat they are, not where they buy their clothes! Grr!

  51. If we’re adding Wardrobe Remix, can we add Hobby/Life Passion Remix too? I always wanted to be a triathlete!

  52. I didn’t realize you were trying to do just people on the edge of the cut off. Is that a new decision?

    I just wanted to say I’m loving all the pictures with the stats in the captions! I keep thinking of this as the “BMI is bullshit project”, LOL! I think it’s great that you have people from all over the different ranges, not just ones on the edges of cut-offs (and I say that honestly, not just because I hope to send in a picture tomorrow and I’m not sure if I am on the edge or too far into a category for you to use LOL!) . All the talk lately about how we don’t know what this or that weight looks like – it’s so cool to see two pictures of a person in the same category and they look totally different (especially women since we all seem to carry our weight so differently from each other).

    Anyway, very cool! I’ll have to send that link around to friends and family :)

  53. Shannon, yeah, I’m mostly looking for people who are close to the edge of one category. The only category I’ve really fully represented is “obese,” because A) that’s where I’m getting the most submissions, and B) I don’t think anyone in the “obese” category looks like most people’s image of TEH OBESITY CRISIS. But because it is the “BMI is bullshit project” (hee!), I’m definitely leaning more toward shock value.

    But since the cockeyed guy doesn’t have time to update his photographic height/weight chart these days, maybe we need a separate Real Weights stream.

  54. This slide show is neat – it’s good to see such variety of healthy higher weights.

    I’m also curious to see what further variety ethnicities/races and gender will bring. My husband is of the short/stocky variety (5’6″ 185-ish BMI 30) but I don’t know if we have a good body shot. I will submit if I can find/take one.

    Re triathlete: She looks Powerful with the capital P.

  55. I keep telling people that when they hear of “the obesity epidemic” that’s killing everyone that’s ME they’re talking about. In answer to that I get told “oh, you’re not fat” LOL! Polite or clueless? Whatever :) Now I’ll have to show them these pictures where people thinner than I am are being lumped in to the fat problem (some of the “overweight” pictures are incredible – Where’s the fat?)

    Would you have room for another 30.9 BMI? (where does that put me? Am I dropping dead tomorrow?). If not I’ll just put it on fatshionista since it involves nice clothes (finally!)

    I love the cockeyed one but yeah, a Real Weights stream would be nice here too :) Or maybe Rob (at cockeyed) stopped getting submissions?

  56. (um, “fat problem” above should really have quotes – just imagine me rolling my eyes at that point m’kay?)

  57. Or maybe Rob (at cockeyed) stopped getting submissions?

    Someone here submitted a photo just the other day and got a “Thanks, but I’m too busy just now” reply. (Which I completely understand, btw.)

    And Shannon, sure, I’d take a pic!

  58. Aw, bummer about cockeyed.

    And, um, I’m wondering what kind of a freudian slip it is that I wrote that my BMI is 30.9 and I meant 35.9. Lookie there, just got “unhealthier” in the past 20 minutes, LOL! I’ll send you one tomorrow and if you have enough of whatever category I am, I won’t be offended :)

    Again, this is very cool, thanks for taking the time to do it!

  59. Kate – as I keep telling my students, “if you can walk, you can skate.” :)

    I should get my friend Heather to send in a pic – she’s well into the BMI “obese” range, but she’s got a double lutz I’d kill for.

  60. …that should be “AND she’s got a double lutz I’d kill for.” Anyway, talk about busting stereotypes.

  61. “if you can walk, you can skate.”

    I can skate like a 90-year-old walking. But I want to be able to do the jumping part! Do you tell them “if you can fly, you can do jumps”? ;)

  62. Do you tell them “if you can fly, you can do jumps”? ;)

    Hee hee! And yeah, I think I skate more like an 11-month-old walking. The ratio of moving forward to falling down is not quite the same as when I walk.

    The last time I skated, I was put to shame by:
    1) My then-sixtysomething father, who was probably in the obese category at the time;
    2) My morbidly obese brother;
    3) A random 5-year-old at the rink who was better than all 3 of us put together.

    The first two are ex-hockey players. My dad is still so graceful on the ice it kills me. And I spent a lot of that day holding on to my brother’s sweatshirt and kicking his 3-year-old daughter out of the way, because I needed his help more. (She had bobskates. Cheater.)

    Interestingly, although my brother has always been (except, of course, for the dieting periods) a serious fatty boombah, he’s also always seen himself as a jock at heart — which is interesting only because it is so NOT true of the women in my family. (Obviously, it’s true of plenty of the fat women around here.) One reason why he has a much better self-image than the rest of us.

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  64. Flying isn’t a requirement for jumping – it’s just strongly recommended. ;)

    I started skating at 18, despite a lot of well-meaning but misinformed coaches informing me that women *can’t* learn to skate competitively after puberty because they’ve developed omg!hips! (Coaches who train adult skaters, of course, know differently.)

    It turned out to be a godsend; it taught me that I can enjoy exercise. I was the youngest and therefore slowest and least coordinated kid in my class, so I never did sports for all the mocking. And at the adult level, even competitive skating is a lot more relaxed and collegial than down in the Olympic-hopeful ranks.

  65. I’ll send you my photo soon, but I weighed myself for the first time in, well, a long time. I pitched my scale about 6 or 7 years ago, and when I get weighed at the doctor’s office, I ask them to not tell me what it is.

    Anyway, I’m 5’4 (possibly 5’5″, I need to double check my height) and 245 pounds. Which means a BMI of 42 (or 40.8 if I’m taller than I think) and I’m morbidly obese either way. In fact, I’m a candidate for weight loss surgery. Interesting.

    And, not to get into an argument about weight loss surgery, but wow.

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  68. Oh boy. I’m deeply interested in fielding criticism about how we’re not doing a PROFESHUNAL STUDEE.

    I already spent a semester teaching people what the internet is like. Granted it was pretty interesting and we got to play text games, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it again just now.

    That said, hopefully some people will poke around and something will stick.

  69. You guys, did you know that this is just a STUNT??? My god! It never occurred to me that this project was “something unusual done to attract attention” (Oxford American Dictionary). If only we had NIH funding or something.

  70. If we had NIH funding, we would totally take pictures of everybody in identical lighting, clothing, and poses, thereby eradicating all indication that they have a personality and a life and are REAL FUCKING PEOPLE.

    Because that wouldn’t elide the point of the project at ALL.

  71. I demand identical outfits and identical poses so that I can judge exactly whose breasts are the perfect size!

  72. I demand identical outfits and identical poses so that I can judge exactly whose breasts are the perfect size!

    Oh, I’ll tell you right now: mine.

    And Moxie’s.

    Also, LOL. As I said to Liss yesterday, this is not actually called The Would You Fuck this Chick? Project.

    I know that’s almost as shocking as the fact that I wasn’t trying to be scientific.

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  74. I’m willing to bet Sarah’s not setting any records in her triathlon career.

    Me thinks people throw around the term triathlete a bit too loosely. A sprint triathlon can be super short: 1/4 mile swim, 6 mile bike, and 1.5 mile run (and some come in even shorter than that). Then throw in the fact that most sprints have a ridiculous time limit to account for the morbidly obese and elderly. Just b/c you can float your way through the swim, take a casual bike ride, and walk the run section, doesn’t mean you should call yourself a triathlete.

    *snort*

    I guess someone should tell him I’m doing a half ironman in June and that my shortest race was still twice what he is talking about.

  75. I’m willing to bet Sarah’s not setting any records in her triathlon career.

    See, and I had you pegged for Most Patience in the Face of Ignorant Assholes. By a mile.

  76. I also think it’s hilarious one mefi commentor said he can’t tell if I have boobs in my WW outfit. I’m about a HH cup. They’re damn hard to miss. While they may be heavy, they’re fat sacks, not concrete sacks. Besides, boobage does not affect health and is totally irrelevant to the whole issue.

  77. I guess someone should tell him I’m doing a half ironman in June and that my shortest race was still twice what he is talking about.

    He’d still come up with some reason that he’s better than you. Shit, the poor fucker needs something to cling to in his life.

  78. I also think it’s hilarious one mefi commentor said he can’t tell if I have boobs in my WW outfit.

    Hey, now. We don’t make fun of visually impaired people around here. ;)

  79. *sigh*

    I’m not exactly patient. I’m just bullheaded. I do what I want and if someone gets in my way, I just use my fat ass to bulldoze right over them.

    See? It’s good for something!!!!

    Besides — it’s easy to call someone out over the internet. I’d like to see him do it to my face. And if he did, I’d suspect about a gazillion other *REAL* triathletes would go throw him in the lake because they don’t put up with shit like that.

  80. And just for that, I’ve started putting up my 2008 schedule. It’s not going to be a light one like this year ;-)

    Now, if only race directors would confirm more dates…

  81. Besides — it’s easy to call someone out over the internet. I’d like to see him do it to my face. And if he did, I’d suspect about a gazillion other *REAL* triathletes would go throw him in the lake because they don’t put up with shit like that.

    No shit. And I would pay good money to see that.

  82. I’d rather it not have to happen. It’s sad how a few assholes can make an entire sport/lifestyle look like a bunch of snobby bastards. I’ve always gotten shit from runners — never from a triathlete.

  83. I’d rather it not have to happen.

    Yeah, absolutely.

    From my perspective (as someone who definitely does not consider myself an athlete, granted), no real athlete could question that you are absolutely one of them. Sometimes, it baffles me how people can be such assholes.

  84. by the way — the picture of you in the yoga pose? absofrigginlutely awesome. I don’t know if I’d ever have the balance and arm strength to do that.

    One of my bike guys was challenging me to a power yoga session. Perhaps I need to take him up on that :-)

  85. Thanks, Sarah!

    I really didn’t think I’d ever be able to do that pose, either. And the first time my teacher suggested I try it, I couldn’t. There was all this build-up about how she KNEW I was ready… but I actually wasn’t, so it was a big letdown.

    A couple weeks later, she told me to try it again. I was all, “Fuck you, we already established that I can’t do this.” But she insisted, and poof — there it was! I’ve never been so surprised at my own ability to do something in my life. And now it’s relatively easy for me, as long as my wrists are warmed up.

    I’m not a big fan of power yoga, ’cause I’m more into the meditative aspects and stretching and strength-building and really getting to feel my way into a pose. I have friends who love it, though.

  86. Like the pictures! It’d be cool to have body fat percentage as photos as well. I don’t bother with BMI at all – it doesn’t matter how much I weigh (within reason), as long as my Lean Muscle Mass is decently high.

  87. I don’t bother with BMI at all – it doesn’t matter how much I weigh (within reason), as long as my Lean Muscle Mass is decently high.

    Well, Kate, the thing is, it doesn’t matter how much you weigh even if it’s not; you’re still a human being. And I’m sure there are plenty of people around here whose weight doesn’t fall under what you would consider “within reason,” but it turns out, they’re healthy and happy the way they are.

    Too many people do still bother with BMI, which is the point of the project.

  88. (Fat without reason, here.)

    Re. WW b00b visiblility… “Hey, now. We don’t make fun of visually impaired people around here.”

    That reminds me, did y’all hear the one about the Braille t-shirt?

  89. I just thought you might find this funny Kate:

    a friend of mine IMed me out of the blue and asked if I knew I was included on “that BMI flickr stream.”

    He’s someone who would never go looking for that unless it showed up on some weird message board.

    This thing has gone FAR!

  90. fillyjonk, I’m not sure who you are to compare.

    And I’m not sure what this is in reference to, but in case anybody needs a reminder that Fillyjonk is one of the boss ladies around here, she is.

  91. I’m sure I’m not the first one to say something like this, but damn! I wish I could send you the video of my husband competing in a powerrlifting contest. 219 at 5 foot 8 inches he has a BMI of 33. He’s got less than 10% body fat, and is a certified personal trainer. The man can bench press 420lbs, but is considered morbidly obese by government standards.

  92. And for the ass who claimed that the term “triathlete” was used too loosely…anyone who trains for and participates in a race that encompases swimming, biking and running is a triathlete whether they come in first or dead f*ckin’ last.

    Pardon my language, please. I’m a triathlete who takes this stuff very seriously.

  93. And I’m not sure what this is in reference to, but in case anybody needs a reminder that Fillyjonk is one of the boss ladies around here, she is.

    I figured it out — Robin wasn’t being snotty, it’s that I mentioned we were the same shape!

    The similarities don’t show in my pic, Robin, but I’m actually in the first row.

  94. Oh my I am so sorry. i should really proof read things first before i send them out into the net. What I trying to say was I didn’t know what fillyjonk looked like so i could compare my body to hers. I am so Sorry for all the confusion. I only now just checked back.

  95. That’s okay, Robin! If there hadn’t been 82974591806 comments on this thread it would have been perfectly clear. :)

  96. “…I wish I could send you the video of my husband competing in a powerrlifting contest. 219 at 5 foot 8 inches he has a BMI of 33. He’s got less than 10% body fat…”

    Just keeping the spotlight on the fact that plenty of people who have way more than 10% body fat are a) normal, b) perfectly healthy, and c) not dead.

    This is important. While the fact that the BMI mislabels muscular people is kind of interesting, I think the main point is that it condemns people to a cultural “death” who are perfectly normal, and fat, people.

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  98. I would LOVE to send you something for this, if I only owned a pair of scales! I was 182 last time any doctor even bothered to weigh me, and that was about 8 years ago. At my height, five-five – I’d guess that comes in the obese category…math in my head is not my strong point! And I’m slightly bigger now.

    But this is completely, totally crazy, yes. As my husband pointed out, this weekend on TV most of the country was watching a bunch of ‘obese’ guys chucking a ball around. But then, nobody thinks of the England rugby team that way, do they?

  99. Oh yeah, and PS…Julia in the Superwoman costume….I want an outfit that does that to MY boobies…I have the, um, accoutrements but they don’t meet in the middle and give a proper cleavage, and oh, the annoyance when you try to look for any bra above a 36 back that will do that for you…

  100. Good points mindy, although i don’t agree about the boobs part. At the end of the day if I have an extra 10lb of fat in my thighs and someone else had an extra 10lb of fat in their boobs, it makes no difference in terms of health, it’s just the fat is distributed in a different way which is usually down to genetics.

    That said, its really too much abdominal fat you gotta watch out for. You can have a normal body fat percentage but too much fat around the waistline can cause health problems unlike breast and thigh fat.

  101. What’s so ironic with me is I used to have a high body fat percentage (30%-32%) but that certainly didn’t matter to most doctors because my BMI was still normal. But now my BMI actually puts me just within the overweight category, however my body fat percentage is down to around 24%-26% due to losing a little fat and adding a fair bit of muscle mass.

    So now I’m wondering if doctors will tell me I’m less healthy purely because my BMI says I’m overweight, even though I’m fitter and leaner than I used to be with a normal BMI!

    So my personal opinion is BMI is a complete and utter farce. It needs to be scrapped and doctors need to start seriously considering people’s body fat percentages.

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  103. Hrrrmmm.

    I’ve had an ongoing argument with my doctor for the last six years.

    My doctor routinely screens me for heart disease and diabetes, because, at 5’6″ and 214 lbs, I am “obese” with regards to the BMI scale.

    My body fat percentage (as measured by electrical resistance) is 18% – average for a female athlete, but not for a secretary. I can bench press 250 lbs and leg press nearly 400. I go to the gym every night after work and lift weights for about an hour and a half. My cholesterol is on the far low end of normal. My blood pressure, likewise, is on the far low end of normal. I have normal glucose tolerance and normal blood sugar. Stress tests (which I am subjected to once a year as part of my annual physical, because my doctor is utterly convinced that I am going to DROP DEAD because I’m so overweight) reveal that my heart and lungs are comparable with that of Olympic athletes, despite my nasty smoking habit. I consume approximately 2500 to 3000 calories a day to maintain the muscle I’ve worked so hard to build. I wear a 38DD, and a size 16 – which means I’m clearly obese….or not!

    I have seen myself at 135 lbs, which placed me solidly in the middle of the “normal” BMI range. It was terrifying. “Heroin chic” doesn’t begin to describe my appearance. You’ve seen photos of Auschwitz survivors, no? Put one of them in a nice dress, and you’ll have a good idea of what I looked like. My pelvis was clearly visible, through clothing – not just the points of my hips in the front, mind, but the iliac crest, in the back. My sacrum was visible, as well, along with the outline of my sternum and each and every rib. Calista Flockhart at the height of her bulimia had more padding than I did. Even then, when I was consuming more heroin than food, I wore a size 9! My kidneys and liver were shutting down, and when I checked myself into a treatment facility I was labeled “dangerously malnourished” and “severely underweight” – but my BMI was “normal”..

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  105. Hey Kate, are you still accepting submissions? Ive noticed that you dont have any “super morbidly obese” people (woohoo, im super!). But, im taking photos, and I have a BMI between 49 and 52, depending on how tall I am measured at, and the time of day :-)

  106. At my heaviest, 297 lbs, I had a BMI of 51. I’ve lost some weight 40 + lbs, but will never be able to meet the “healthy” level of BMI. It’s just too unrealistic.

  107. How does one calculate BMI?

    Great blog by the way. if you’re still doing this sort of thing do let me know if I can contribute my stats and photo.

  108. That said, its really too much abdominal fat you gotta watch out for. You can have a normal body fat percentage but too much fat around the waistline can cause health problems unlike breast and thigh fat.

    Y’know, not wishing to be overly unpleasant, Kaitlyn, but just as most of us here get pig sick of being told that teh fatz is gonna kill them for reals by the wellmeaning world and hid wife, as if we have never heard it a billion times before or are too dumb to have been paying attention to the message …I, as an apple-shaped fat woman get reeeeeally cheesed off about being told my evil abdominal fatz is gonna get me, especially by other fat people who have the good fortune to be some other shape. Just as there’s fuck all most of us can do about our fat, there’s fuck all we can do about our shape either, which, in my case, is quite undeniably genetic. So please, no more well meaning health lectures about belly fat; the apples know, okay?

  109. Buffpuff, excellent rant. I’m not an apple shape, but I’m equally irritated by that, and I actually can’t believe we let it slide on this thread. Guess what, folks — DIETS DON’T WORK FOR APPLE-SHAPED PEOPLE, EITHER!

  110. Ta, Kate. Much obliged. And apologies for my typing dyslexia. (“hid” = “his” ). It was the phrase “watch out for” that got me. Hello? Got a mirror; been gazing at my short, round middle my entire life and all the watching, dieting or frigging hoola-hooping in the world ain’t ever going to make my abdominal fat migrate to my comparatively skinny, flat arse.

  111. It was the phrase “watch out for” that got me.

    I think this means that if you don’t watch out, your fat might grab a knife and stab you when you’re not looking. The same way “mayonnaise in the summer can kill you”.

  112. I’m just beginning to skim but…if you want to add another one to “normal” and “not quite underweight but about to keel over from not eating” I’ve got both. (Former–currently; latter–a year ago, anorexia making me bound and determined to finally hit “underweight.” It didn’t happen, because my body apparently can not function at anything below my current weight, firmly in the middle of “normal.”)

  113. Oh, and a SINCERE thank you to everyone who shared their photos. I know that *I* am so used to seeing only glum, depressed, unfabulous “fat” people — because don’t you know, you gotta be blonde and 99lbs to be happy! — so it’s nice to see some smiles on those beautiful faces….and beautiful bodies….I am honestly jealous of many of the so-called “overweight” girls. Curves!! Gahhh.

  114. I’m so glad to see this. I wondered if I was the only one who thought that chart was total bullshit. I think one of the biggest problems with the BMI is that it doesn’t seem to take into account that women have BREASTS!!! I love the site thanks for making my day!

  115. Angel, I t also think the fact BMI doesn’t take breasts into account is probably a contributing factor as to why so many skinny, big-breasted women believe themselves to be “fat”. I’ve met women who deliberately wore a bra that was too small for them because they equated a larger cup size with fat. Sadly, I think some people in the medical profession believe breasts to be symptomatic of fat as well.

    I’m hypermobile and suffer with fibromyalgia in my upper back. Some years ago, the rheumatologist who was treating me for the latter referred me to a hyper-mobility clinic for physiotherapy. Before undertaking physio I had to have an assessment with the specialist in charge of the clinic – who turned out to have a complete bug up his arse about my weight. I dealt with him and his prejudices as calmly and assertively as I could, assuring him I ate healthily, walked lots, and did, (at that time), two to three 45 minute cardio workouts a week at the gym. Eventually, the talking-to-the-wall aspect of the exchange forced me to brandish my rack at him and say, “Hello! Upper Back Problem!!” I pointed out that every woman on both sides of my family has whoppers and that I had them even when I weighed what he would have considered a more ideal weight. He wrote to my GP and rheumotologist claiming he didn’t think I had fibromyalgia and heaping disapproval on my fat…but strangely never volunteering any suggestions as to what he thought was wrong with me.

    IMO BMI also gives many supposed professionals a fantastic excuse to be lazy.

  116. I have seen myself at 135 lbs, which placed me solidly in the middle of the “normal” BMI range. It was terrifying.

    Nogling, when I got married first time round I was 125. For me, at 5’5″, that’s the low end of an ‘acceptable’ BMI. I wasn’t dieting at all, just rushing round and making myself ill with the stress. I felt like death warmed up, and my skin required slathering with makeup to look good in the wedding photos. My mother has kept those photos, despite the fact I’ve been divorced for over a decade now, and I suspect it’s because for most of my teens I was 140 and upwards and these are the only photos she has of me actually looking ‘slim’ (to her – most of her life she’s been 5′ and around 100, and applies that standard to every other woman).

    When my second husband (then boyfriend) and I were moving house, we came across the old wedding dress tucked away in a bag and I decided to finally chuck it. Now, my husband is slightly heavier now, but back then he was so thin he could get his thumb and forefinger to meet round one ankle. Thin enough that they wouldn’t let him donate blood. Anyway, he was goofing around and decided to try my old wedding dress on…and he couldn’t get into it!

    I see lots of reports these days complaining that we’re getting used to seeing bigger sizes as ‘normal’. Definitely not so. In fact, I wonder if many people even realize how thin some so-called ‘normal’ weights actually are.

    And buffpuff, there’s a whole spate of horror stories over here in the UK about how the NHS routinely refuses to pay for breast reduction surgery in women with severe back and other medical problems. They just tell women who in some cases were F or G by their teens, and whose breasts have grown further with successive pregnancies and breastfeeding, to ‘go and lose weight’ as if that will solve everything. Ludicrous.

  117. Whups, sorry. Just meant to italicize those first couple of lines where I was quoting Nogling. Hope that’s not too confusing…

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  119. I have long-suffered from an eating disorder and have a number of photos of myself, ranging from a low-bmi of 12.5 to a high bmi of about 20- and all the way in-between.

    I’d be happy to share any that you would be interested in, I’m a caucasian female. My natural body-weight is around 54kg at 167cm- which gives me a bmi of just-over 19.

    I find it interesting that- during different times throughout my illness, I gained and lost weight- in one set of photos where my bmi was around 14.1, I looked COMPLETELY different to another set of photos where my weight was exactly the same.

    I think it’s a poor indicator, as it doesn’t allow for fluid-retention, muscle-mass, bone-structure, etc.

    I think people should just their healthy weight based on how healthy they feel and how healthy the doctor says their body is! (i.e. bloodtests, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.)- and also, just by following a healthy, balanced diet- even with a few naughty treats in-between.

    BMI sucks!!!! haha…

  120. I weighed in today @ 132.6 being 5′6″ and my lying scale said BMI of 28.3 I have always been underweight till the last 2 yrs because of surgery and accidents. Now I am in the overweight category according to my scale. I am a size 7 in Juniors. When did this become overweight. I totally skipped normal weight!! Where was it I missed it ! People still say I am skinny all the time. But the goverment has labeled me different. I guess I need to work out 7 days a week w/ a personal trainer to become marathon ready in shape to be “normal”. wish I had a picture for you to judge. I also have long legs and arms and my waist even when I was a size 3 and 12% unhealthy BMI my waist was never smaller than 28 inches. They do not account for body type at all! Sorry rants from the skinny fat person!! This is BS to try to adhere to. PS My Dr thinks I am good and was glad I gained weight!

  121. I really wish you were still doing this. I just found this entry a little while ago on a random google search because I was fed up with my bmi being ridiculous. If you get this going again please let me know. I would absolutely adore to send in photos. I just spent the better part of a half hour reading all of the comments and looking over the pictures. The women are so beautiful and it really puts an emphasis on how screwed up bmi is. I’m automatically always going to be lumped in the obese or morbidly obese inless I starve myself til I weigh like a 100 some odd pounds or so(never calculated it) because I stand at 5″1

  122. Angela, I don’t think you’ll read this, but your scale wasn’t telling you your BMI, but rather your body fat percentage. The two are different things. And, medically speaking, a body fat percentage of around 28% is considered within the “normal” or “healthy” range.

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