After over a year of being told that we must wear masks — “not for your health, but for other people” — it seems we are now being told more or less the same line about vaccines. Rumors abound about the possibility of “vaccine-passports,” Nazi-style papers that may be required to travel in or to certain places. Many colleges and universities are already mandating vaccines.
This would imply that the concept of “bodily autonomy” is more akin to a contextual privilege than a “right” in the proper sense. Health privacy seems to be moving in that direction too.
Perhaps it’s for the best. After all, many thousands of people have died because of COVID.
But if we have decided that freedom isn’t worth the risk of letting others forego the benefits of expert opinion, then there is another dimension of our current health-climate that demands our attention, perhaps even beyond vaccines and masks.
I am speaking of obesity and fitness.
Scott Adams mused that perhaps a pandemic actually didn’t happen among thin people. Among healthy people, COVID mortality rates were so low as to be insignificant. The “pandemic” really only happened to overweight or otherwise unhealthy people.
Now let us consider the “body positivity” movement, which really kicked off in 2004 thanks to Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. The aim of this movement was to normalize average body-types while pathologizing traditional model physiques as “unrealistic” or even “fake,” in order to lower people’s standards and to be happier with themselves as they are.
The effect of this movement is difficult to measure, but if the CDC is to be believed, obesity happened to jump up between that time period and now pretty dramatically:
From 1999 –2000 through 2017 –2018, US obesity prevalence increased from 30.5% to 42.4%. During the same time, the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.
But let’s do some quick math, and just assume the CDC is accurate. Let’s assume — just hypothetically — that the official estimate of 610,000 deaths from COVID is correct. And let’s assume that the difference in severe obesity would correspond with deaths, i.e., people who are currently severely obese and died would not have died had they merely been obese. And let us very generously assume for simplicity that COVID deaths correspond with a cross-section of America, rather than almost exclusively overweight ones. The difference between 2000 and today in severe obesity is 4.5%. If we subtract that from our total deaths, we get 582,550 deaths.
That means that conservatively, body positivity and its advocates probably killed at minimum 27,450 Americans.
It’s probably an order of magnitude higher.
And that’s just from COVID.
What this kind of data fails to take into account is other metrics for health, including strength, endurance, VO2 max, and the like. Many “skinny-fat” desk-workers maintain a decent BMI simply by not eating too much, but their overall health has still declined from where their grandfathers’ would have been at the same age, often walking more and working more physically demanding jobs. America is probably even less healthy — overall — than the obesity data would suggest.
Working out and staying healthy in an age that no longer requires it of us takes motivation and inspiration. It takes a superhuman ideal that we want to move towards. We’ll never be those ideals, but with time and effort, we can become more like those ideals.
Think Arnold Schwarzenegger.
What the body-positivity movement has done is systematically remove, dilute, and even pathologize those ideals.
Is there any possible way that that couldn’t have resulted in worse overall health in America?
And if so, is there any possible way that the body positivity movement didn’t kill people during the COVID pandemic?
If we are deciding to do away with bodily autonomy and health privacy, then perhaps it’s time to implement new policies… policies that would be FAR more effective at dealing with public health concerns like COVID than inefficient litter like masks or untested chemical therapy like mRNA vaccines.
How about mandated exercise?
How about we make personal BMI public knowledge, encouraging healthier, fitter citizenry?
After all, our health and fitness affects others.
Aside from the stress that obesity lays on our hospitals and insurance systems (you probably pay higher premiums because other people are fat), we learned in 2020 that fat people can actually spread disease more easily than fit people. They get sick more easily, and their immune systems tend to be weaker. And in a world where HOAs and city governments can fine or even evict home-owners for letting their property become too ugly, there is something to be said for the sheer ugliness of being fat, and the effect that has on the public atmosphere.
If you’re going to be fascist, you may as well implement the good parts of fascism.
How about we make posting physique a more regular part of our culture?
I am not a fan of bullying, even fat-shaming — though many men claim that being fat-shamed saved their life. But it is important to notice the language games that body positivity activists play when they talk about “body shaming.” No one is shaming their “body,” as if the excess fat dripping off their face and gut like a saggy life-jacket is something they were born with and have no control over. No, what they are being shamed for by said bullies is the lack of discipline and care in their health, which is demonstrated by their appearance. It’s a matter of character.
We can’t know the particular circumstances of everyone we run into. Any given fat person may be working several jobs to try to pay the bills, surviving on donuts and 2 hours of sleep a night. Life can get away from you, and people make their own choices in trying to make things work.
But when someone publicly takes a stand for controlling other people’s health decisions — by way of masks or vaccines — and they’re fat?
That’s a confusion in priorities.
And perhaps it is in the interest of the public health — in many variety of public interests — to remind them.
There should be no public dialogue about COVID — or, indeed, illness in general — without mentioning the true epidemic which 2020 revealed: obesity.
Personally, I think this is better understood as a moral epidemic — gluttony, laziness, entitlement, and the ressentiment of the mediocre and their desire to tear down the high ideals of health that once shone from the glossy pages of magazines, the broad spreads of billboards, and the imagination-fuel of film. Every mention of COVID should be paired with a mention of obesity and its causes.
But regardless, we can’t seem to go a day without hearing about masks or vaccines. If we ever want the monotony to end, Americans who love freedom have to quit taking the moral high ground, hoping that the other side will learn something from repeated stern warnings about some future consequences.
They’ve already killed tens of thousands. Minimum.
Are you afraid to remind them of that fact?
Are you afraid to remind them that it makes them ugly?
There should be no discussion of COVID or public health policy without bringing up the single most obvious, most fundamental, most simple aspect of health: fitness. We should be discussing — openly and unapologetically — the sorts of policies that will result in better physical health and fitness. And anyone who so much as whispers something about “mental health” (as if that was separate from physical fitness), or concern about people feeling ashamed or ostracized, should be associated with COVID deaths… probably in addition to excess deaths by cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Body positivity kills, far beyond whatever masks or vaccines may or may not be able to stop.
Perhaps after a long season of fat-shaming and public discussion of the costs of America’s obese, unfit trajectory, might we expect people to begin to understand the value of freedom again. That’s my hope anyway.
But that time is not now. And it isn’t coming for a while.