Healthy vs. Attractive Weight

By: Nikki Nies

Depending on one’s cultural and personal views, the perception of what’s healthy and attractive can or can not be synonymous. By medical standards, many Americans meet the criteria of overweight to obese.  Yet, critics of the BMI measurement state it is not always an accurate measurement of healthy and/or attractiveness.

A lot of critics suggest the lack of adequate nutrition in the Western diet has led to the current obesity epidemic, yet it seems some people are comfortable or sometimes prefer extra cushion or being “thick.”

Original Image by Kiran Foster via Flickr
Original Image by Kiran Foster via Flickr

A healthy lifestyle is subjective, but a standard measurement is how one’s lifestyle is linked to overall nutrition, obesity, physical activity and one’s risk for chronic diseases–heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  When looking at lifestyles, one’s cultural specificities of how food and fat operate in body according to class, gender and ethnicity, need to be evaluated as well. A study led by Lovejoy et al., 2001, found Black women tend to be more satisfied with their weight, size and appearance than their white counterparts.  A possible explanation for this difference may be the “afrocentric aesthetic”, which may allow blacks to resist mainstream beauty and that black men prefer larger women than white.

Healthy eating has been criticized due to the limiting consideration of food practices and has negatively played a role in the addition  of dieting.I’m not sure when the loathing of fat was introduced in American society, but it has had a double edged sword.  Being healthy promotes a healthy weight, but often times it’s mistaken as an attractive weight, yet healthy and attractive weight are not always the same thing.

With the cultural pressure to meet and remain a smaller size, it has led to body distortion, eating disorders and/or poor body image and self esteem.

Modern media has dictated what an attractive weight is, which isn’t always realistic.  “Penalities”for being overweight or obese is less severe for black women than white. While a person’s weight is part of the assessment of one’s physical appearance, it’s unfortunate that in our society so much emphasis and acknowledgement of weight is part of mainstream news and attention.  Physical attractiveness has been noted to help one’s prospects in the labor markets, in romantic relationships and throughout various face to face social interactions.

Although discrimination against weight can’t always be proved, it’s been widely scrutinized as responsible for social exclusion, public ridicule and the development of depression and/or isolation.


  1. Ali M, Rizzo J, Heiland F. Big and beautiful? Evidence of racial differences in the perceived attractiveness of obese females. Journal Of Adolescence [serial online]. June 2013;36(3):539-549. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 26, 2014.
  2. Kokkinos P. Nutrition and exercise: The safest way to health. Hellenic Journal Of Nutrition & Dietetics [serial online]. January 2011;2(1):19-22. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 26, 2014.
  5. Ristovski-Slijepcevic S, Bell K, Chapman G, Beagan B. Being ‘thick’ indicates you are eating, you are healthy and you have an attractive body shape: Perspectives on fatness and food choice amongst Black and White men and women in Canada. Health Sociology Review[serial online]. September 2010;19(3):317-329. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 26, 2014.

Disordered Eating


By: Nikki Nies

Every one knows someone who has struggled with a daily eating habit, even if a loved one hasn’t been officially labeled as to have an eating disorder.  One doesn’t have to be classified as struggling with an eating disorder to seek help.

In actuality, there’s an additional term, disordered eating, which isn’t as publicly recognized. Disordered Eating.

Disordered eating is eating in a way that could or does harm you physically or psychological

The cause of disordered eating may be due to the desire to lose weight, attempt to achieve unrealistic body ideals, genetic factors, trauma, mental illness, childhood family patterns, medical condition,a way to handle stress and/or manage weight.  Disordered eating habits can occur in “waves” or occur for long periods of time.

Indicators of disordered eating may include:

  • Overexercising
  • Fasting or juice cleanses to lose weight
  • Following strict food rules
  • Eliminating an entire food group from diet (i.e. carbohydrates) besides for religious, cultural or preexisting reasons (vegetarian)
  • Eating the same “safe” foods daily
  • Extreme calorie counting and/or restriction
  • Thinking about food more than 50% of the time
  • Lying about how much was consumed
  • Bingeing or vomiting
  • Smoking for weight loss
  • Intentionally skipping meals or “forgetting to eat”
  • Consuming a lot of low cal or no cal foods
  • Weighing oneself obsessively
  • Adopting a new diet solely for weight loss (i.e. becoming a vegan)
  • Visiting pro-bulimia or pro-anorexia websites
  • Consistently overeating when not hungry
  • Strong fear of gaining 5 lbs.
  • “Dieting” for more than 3/4 of one’s life
  • Use of diet pills and/or laxatives

What’s the difference between disordered eating and eating disorders, you ask? Well, an eating disorder can be classified as disordered eating, but disordered eating isn’t always recognized as an eating disorder. Disordered eating is not easily defined either.

Disordered eating can lead to early onset of osteoporosis, muscle cramps, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, poor sleep quality, weight gain and/or lead to an eating disorder (i.e. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or Eating Disorder Otherwise Not Specified).

Check out my secondary blog, No DEED Goes Unnoticed, which is about Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders (DEED)at  If you or a loved one is struggling with disordered eating there are numerous resources waiting to help you.  Every situation and individual is different and deserves specialized attention to problem at hand.  Check out a thorough list of available resources at

If this information could help a loved one, please pass on in a kindly manner.  Thank you.