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Have you ever wondered why women care so much about their body weight? I bet you have a very specific number in mind when it comes to your comfort weight. “Health at Every Size” and many other movements in this direction are wonderful but don’t quite correspond to the truth. These movements have a very good intention but do not change the fact that for women, their body weight is an important indicator of personal wellness. I even know women who weigh themselves daily. The psychologist Dr. Lisle calls them the Weigh-Monkeys. Why is that?
A woman’s body weight is an important indicator of her mate value. It sounds harsh, it is, but it is not my concept, it is the concept of nature that has evolved over many millions of years. The whole spectacle takes place subconsciously, of course. Men also pay attention to their weight, but on average much less, because it does not have the same importance for women. Beauty is strongly defined by body weight and body shape. This is universally the case in the world. Our ancestors thought a heavier woman meant she was pregnant. A pregnant woman was no longer available to the mating market. Men looked out for slim women because that signaled singlehood to them.
Waist to Hip Ration – an indicator of attractiveness and health
According to Buss (2019, pp. 139-141), healthy reproductive women have a WHR (waist-to-hip ratio) between 0.67 and 0.80. In men, the fat distribution is slightly different, ranging from 0.85 to 0.95 for healthy men. Women with a higher WHR have more difficulties becoming pregnant, and those who do become pregnant become pregnant later than women with a low WHR.
The WHR is also an indicator of long-term health. Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and gallbladder dysfunction are related to body fat distribution, not total body fat per se. Regardless of body fat, men find women with a lower WHR most attractive.
Women with a WHR of 0.70 are considered more attractive than women with a WHR of 0.80, who in turn are considered more attractive than women with a WHR of 0.90. Thus, a lower WHR signals health and attractiveness. Although models and beauty queens have become somewhat slimmer over the decades, their WHR has remained about the same at 0.70.
With a waist size of 75 cm and a hip size of 95 cm, that makes 0.79. So you are still in the healthy range. The well-known 90-60-90 has a WHR of 0.67. So you can see that there is still a lot of room for 0.80. Nobody needs this ratio to be healthy and to be considered attractive, although a low value is considered particularly attractive.
Fat distribution is also genetically determined, but with a healthy diet, a ratio of a WHR up to 0.80 is possible.
Genetic differences in body weight
According to Plomin (2019, pos. 1947-1948), three genotypes influence body weight. AA, AT, and TT are what they named. Adults with the AT genotype weigh three pounds more on average than TT genotypes, and people with the AA genotype weigh six pounds more on average than TT genotypes.
|genotype||weight difference compared to TT||percentage of people|
Under the same conditions, these three people weigh differently. The AA genotype has a particularly hard time losing weight because it stores fat very easily. According to Plomin (2019, pos. 2001), the A allele (allele: a functional form of a gene) used to be needed to store fat reserves for bad days – of which there were many.
The A allele reduces the extent to which we feel full and satiated after eating. The problem today, however, is that we live with a stone-age body in a modern world where there is plenty of highly processed food on every corner.
Thus, if you eat the classic diet, like most of those around you, the average weight can’t just be 6 pounds more, but 60 pounds more for the AA genotype than the TT genotype. This is because our food has become more calorie-dense than humans ate over millions of years. This includes all processed foods, such as oil, sugar, and flour products.
For your understanding, no one is genetically destined to be overweight. The problem is the caloric density of what we eat. Thus, it depends on what we eat and not how much. But not everyone achieves a model weight with a healthy diet. However, one manages to reach a weight that is within the healthy BMI.
It’s a shame when people with lean genetics point the finger at overweight people. It’s like discriminating against someone smaller than average. But if some are overweight and no one is destined to be, why are they? As mentioned before, it’s because of what we eat. Our food has never been as rich and unhealthy as it is today. If everyone ate what our ancestors ate, the problem would not exist.
Unrealistic goals in terms of body weight
Many women set their weight loss goal or the desired body weight unrealistically high. This demotivates and therefore everything is thrown overboard again. The reason for this is the ego trap. I’ll explain this concept in detail in the article “The Ego Trap – Why you lack motivation in weight loss“.
That all sounds hard, doesn’t it? I think so too, but it’s not my opinion of it. I wish it were different. My opinion on this is to shift the perspective a bit. No one needs to have model measurements of 90-60-90. Medical professionals recommend keeping the WHR below 0.80 to minimize the risk of the above diseases. This should be the main motivator for you. If you weigh yourself daily, then move it to once a month for three days in a row and take the average from that. For one thing, this is much more meaningful than weighing yourself daily, furthermore, it can demotivate you to weigh yourself daily. Nobody loses weight overnight. It is a slow process.
An alternative approach
“Healthy at Every Size” is a good approach in that our human value should not be determined by a number or our appearance. But this approach forgets the health risk and human nature. A movement will not stop this process that has evolved over millions of years.
I would rather call it “Worth at Every Size.” Of course, even a very slim person can get sick, but this is about diseases that are promoted by excess fat. The other extreme is body shaming, which is a shame. Rather, awareness should be raised that even being slightly overweight increases the likelihood of various diseases. I’ve been thinking about writing something on this topic for a while because it’s very sensitive. It is associated with a lot of shame among those affected.
I would like to take that away because being overweight has nothing to do with intelligence or discipline. I know firsthand what it’s like when all the “skinny” people around you have never dieted, but position their opinion onto you without having the slightest clue.
We used to compete with the village princess or the local hero, now we compete with thousands of village princesses on social media every day. We feel inferior as a result and lose sight of ourselves and, above all, what our ideal biological weight is. Even if the desire to be slim is deeply rooted in us to be more attractive for the partner market, with this knowledge we can direct our focus more on health.
Today, thanks to the latest research, we know that genetics is a major factor in our weight, which can only be corrected with the right diet and not with willpower or discipline. With a whole food plant-based diet suitable for the individual, without counting calories, but eating as much as you want, you can make it to a healthy weight.
If you need help with weight loss, binge eating, or healthy eating in general, feel free to schedule a consultation with me.
- Buss, (2019), Evolutionary Psychology – The Science of the Mind
- Plomin, (2018), Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are