Link: They Starved So That Others Be Better Fed: Remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Experiment

They Starved So That Others Be Better Fed: Remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Experiment

People should read this. Mostly because I’ve seen one guy flat-out defend the idea that caloric intake is the only answer to weight loss using this experiment. And it is totally disgusting to do so. Anorexics and Bulimics undergo serious physical changes because of their eating disorders. I have one friend who still gets flack from people because of the way she has apparently permanently damaged her body because of her eating disorder. Because, obviously making a person feel like crap after the fact is such an enlightened thing to do.

Using such an experiment against fat people as justification to minimize their individual struggles is disgusting as well. Weight loss should never be an end in itself. There is no reason to consider a fat body abnormal or inherently bad. Weight loss should be a part of a plan to reach a bigger goal,  not the ULTIMATE GOAL, as deemed by our thin-obsessed society.

Trust me, the pressure that motivates women to become anorexic is exactly the same which has caused me to continue to struggle with my weight. Anyone who says that it is different, or tells me I am wrong doesn’t know. After all, compulsive behaviors don’t just come in one variety. The compulsion to not eat, weigh yourself constantly, weigh every bit of food you ingest, and live at starvation level runs just as deep as the compulsion to satisfy some deep hungry spot within one’s self, crying out to feel better. Dealing with long-term mental health issues, like depression, has made me realize I have a plethora of “compulsive” behaviors, and under certain circumstances, eating chocolate is one of them

Telling a person who is fat that they should just stop eating, especially if you think they have a problem with compulsive or binge eating, is like telling an anorexic to eat or a bulimic to stop throwing up. Many will not see the similarities. Many will defend their right to mistreat the fat person, while suggesting that since the eating disorders are recognized that these people are deserving of compassion, unlike the fatsos who have no self-control.

If I was to let those who try to tell me to eat less control the way I actually lived my life, I would have to tell myself daily, every time I felt hungry, that it was just a lie my body was feeding me. That it was proof I don’t have any self-control. That I am fat and thus should control what I eat, MUST control what I eat, and lose weight. No matter what it takes. No matter the cost. I’m fat, and thus ugly, and the only way to fix that is to force my body to do what I want it to!

Doesn’t that sound like exactly the thing an anorexic would say? Reason it out far enough and you can see that the negative self-perceptions of those who struggle with obesity are the same as those who struggle with anorexia. The behaviors that come of these thoughts are the only thing that is different.

People need to understand what happens to a body during starvation, and they need to understand that this “starvation point” is different in everyone as well as the negative effects of not getting enough of what an individual body needs. Some need more iron than others, some need more protein, some more dietary fiber to combat cholesterol, some can eat salt, some can’t, same with sugar. At the end of the day, the most empowering belief you can adopt is that your health is not cut from some generic mold. You don’t HAVE to fit in. It is better, in fact, to be illfitted to others molds because it forces you to recognize and pay attention to your own actual physical body, your own actual health, and not what others say you should or shouldn’t do.

Understanding the full spectrum of the human condition is the only way to combat false dichotomies and the tendency of people to walk the path of “mutual exclusivity”. When an individual stigmatizes a person like me, it is done with the deep, perhaps even subconscious desire, to bolster themselves, to make them special, right, better, superior. To these sort of people, it is always better to be anything from outright hateful to insidiously “positive” (in a complete left-sided fashion) than it is to adopt a truly positive and accepting attitude at the expense of one’s own ability to feel superior. Why else would a person try to teach me about eating some appropriate amount of calories, if they were not invested in making their way of life seem to be the most superior of all ways of life.

My and my friend recovering from an eating disorder are not inferior people. Period. Our demons may be very real though internal, but they would not be here if we were not surrounded by the hell that is other people.

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