Big fat hairy deal

I think we can all agree that the BMI system of judging a woman right in the face about the size of her arse is an unfair, daft, ludicrous, eugenicist, unscientific hangover from an age where everyone was permanently undernourished. I say this because, clothing-wise, I am a British size 16 (American 14) at the moment, allegedly, and yet my new size 16 jeans FELL DOWN today as I was striding about and had to be hitched back up in a hurried and graceless manner while I thanked Fate itself that I was wearing a mid-thigh-length tunic over them, thus sparing the general populace the sight of my bright red undercrackers. I am a 16 about the thighs and bottom, perhaps, but clearly a 14 (US 12) about the waist. Oh, and I wedged myself into a size 14 dress in the changing-rooms the other day, and decided, sadly, that though it fit and was flattering in almost every dimension, the Jane Russell effect (may she rest in peace) was distracting me, and I’m used to my gals (I am a 36 DD, for the record). Does a size 14/16 woman really need to lose two stone/35lbs/16 kgs? I mean, it’s about half-a-stone a dress-size, so I’d end up a size 10. That’s a size 8 in the States. Do I have to be THAT thin to be healthy? Really? When I was last that thin, everyone told me I had ribs like a xylophone, hands like chicken claws, and I kept fainting when I stood up. Admittedly I had an eating disorder (which is why I was that thin), but still, it just seems scrawny, especially for a woman with the bone-structure of an aurochs and the hips and bust of a… a…, well, Jane Russell.

And another thing that really bugs the everlovin’ crap out of me about the weight thing – I am repeatedly told my weight is the probable cause of my miscarriages, overweight women have higher risk yada yada yada. And yet I see, and know of, many women decidedly larger and heavier than myself who get pregnant easily and carry to term with no problems. I mean, God, the NHS is actually complaining about not having enough super-size reinforced obstetrics tables. So why am I super-special-different? Is my body-fat made with industrial-grade arsenic? Am I actually different at all? Are doctors blaming my miscarriages on my weight because, oh, well, fuck it, they’ve run out of options, and who the hell knows anyway, but they’re damned if they’re going to admit that? (I strongly suspect the answer to this is ‘yes’).

And one study I found says that there is an increased risk of miscarriage for obese women, but not for merely overweight ones. The other study I found, the one every single fucking news site on the fucking planet repeated word for word, was this one done in London, which lumped overweight AND obese women in together, claiming that the risk of miscarriage after IVF doubled (from 21 or 22% to 33 or 35%, depending on report) for women whose BMI was over 25, but in the reporting, I couldn’t see the numbers for overweight women alone or obese women alone. The Independent (who really should know better) produced this sensationalist drivel with ridiculous scare-mongering headline. And still, nowhere does it say how many of the obese women miscarried compared to the overweight ones. Just, fatties versus normals.

I call shenanigans. Not least because these studies are both done on women doing IVF, ie they already have malfunctioning reproductive organs. Or their male partner does, and defective sperm is also, actually, think-you’ll-find, a cause of miscarriages, though one a lot of doctors cheerfully ignore (I mean, has anyone done a DNA fragmentation assay on H? Nope. Why not? Fuck knows. It’s not him having the miscarriages, after all. It’s his fat wife). Saying ‘oh, we made adjustments for age and medical history’ is bunk, because every single woman in this study was doing IVF, ie was, already, Reproductively Not Normal, ie, a fat woman doing IVF has more going on than the mere size of her arse, ie her fat issues ARE NOT FUCKING COMPARABLE to the fat issues of a woman who can get pregnant in her own bed/on her in-law’s living-room floor/in her local pub’s car-park.

*Pause, while May gets her breath back and maybe splashes cold water on her face and thinks mellow thoughts about daffodils*

Oh, I’ll carry on losing the weight, if nothing else than because I want to steal H’s jeans and look cuter in them than he does, which will half enchant him and half piss him right off.

Given that I have PCOS, I know my insulin and testosterone and estrogen levels are skewed and being fat is caused by/causes in stupid vicious circle more of the same, allegedly. Allegedly. For the record, I was anovulatory at 9 stone/125 lbs/57 kilos. Completely, totally, anovulatory. I was almost regular last year at 14 stone 7 (200 lbs, 92 kilos). So, yeah, my fat interferes with my menstrual cycle, obviously. Even when I don’t actually have any fat. My fat clearly buggers the space-time continuum.

But I digress. So, being very fat seems unmistakably to between slightly-to-somewhat increase the risk of miscarriage (though the way the media squeals on, you’d think it made it a certainty, which is patent shiny bollocks). Therefore I should make and am making and effort to not be very fat. I just think it’s daft that I am being asked to lose so much weight I actually look scrawny and ill, when the evidence for the effectiveness of looking scrawny and ill is, oh, I don’t know, not wholly convincing? I mean, did you see the bit in the first study I quoted where the underweight women were also at higher risk of miscarriage and all sorts of other horrors? Is BMI really a good and healthy guide to what is underweight, healthy, and fat for a woman like me, who has, did I mention, actual bones made of a great deal of bone, a pelvic girdle you could use as the frame of a coracle, and TITS?


17 responses to “Big fat hairy deal

  • Lulu

    BMI is such a bunch of shit. I feel your pain.

  • sharah

    My RE was much more focused on my waist circumference than overall weight. He wanted me to be at less than 35 inches around, which is about a US size 10 for me. He told me that was a better predictor than bmi for him. For whatever any of that is worth.

  • Womb For Improvement

    Doctors, who really should know better, don’t seem to allow for a healthy weight for individuals. My twin sister who is a scrawny wee thing, and always has been, has been told to put on weight, because they assume she is starving herself. No, she isn’t. That is a weight her body is comfortable with. You walk, you eat healthily, you ovulate – I agree – I think the doctors are grasping at straws.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    The coracle pelvic girdle image?
    With me for LIFE.

  • MFA Mama

    Pfft. It sounds like we’re about the same size currently (although I have birdbones and therefore don’t wear it as well) (also I’m popping out of my DD a bit, but REFUSE to go and be measured because I WILL lose weight, dammit), and I got knocked up once at this size no effing problem. Meh.

  • Illanare

    BMI – bah. I’ve had PCOS and been anovulatory since I was 16 and a size 8. I’ve decided it’s all a bunch of w@nk.

  • Kelly

    My RE says that PCOS can cause miscarriage, but it’s the hormonal imbalances that affect egg quality, not the actual weight. Women on Metformin have a lower miscarriage risk regardless of weight. I was a US size 18 when I started treatment, quickly dropped to a 8 with Metformin/synthroid then stabilized at about a 10. My eggs were just as crappy at a size 8 as a size 18. We decided to go the donor route and I packed on the lbs while pg with no complications.

    BMI is crap. I’m hovering between obese/overweight on the BMI, currently wear between a US 10-12 and have 28% bodyfat . When I was a size 8, I was still overweight by BMI even though I was 25-26% bodyfat,

  • Jenny F. Scientist

    Oh, I think we can all safely agree that BMI is a giant hill of beans. My mom, who’s been a PA for forever, insists that the old adjustment for ‘large-boned’ is, in fact, quite relevant; to wit, some people are more sturdily built than others. Bah to them all.

  • Amy P

    I think we decided once that we were about the same size, except you actually have bone on your bones and a bit more in the upper front (though my actual ribcage is bigger, which is weird).

    If I had a point there, I lost it…

    Fitting into hubby’s jeans is a much more fun goal than hitting a certain number! Does it count that Tom evidently wore a pair of my jeans last week (I hadn’t worn them since I washed ’em last, and they were in the dirty clothes pile with actual dirt on them)? Nah, probably not, since he wears a belt whether he needs to or not…

  • a

    I totally agree with you – they blame the weight because they have no other ideas. And a healthy weight and BMI differs from person to person. With my lightweight upper portions contrasting with my sturdy Polish legs, I know that BMI is no real indicator for me. And since I am short, even 2 pounds can push me from healthy to overweight.

    My view is: weigh enough so that when you look in the mirror, you can say anything from “Eh, not bad” to “I look fantastic” on any given day. Fitting into your husband’s jeans sounds like a fun goal.

  • Quiet Dreams

    Hear, hear, May.

    FWIW (which is likely not much), my own PCOS symptoms were terrible when I was thin. Of course, now I’m fat but I’m on birth control pills, which helps with the PCOS symptoms. This is the only reason I take them, as they are, shall we say, redundant when one is as lacking in sex as I am.

    Ahem. That went a bit astray of where I intended. Anyway, good luck with the BMI games. And good luck with H’s jeans (almost wrote “genes,” but I guess good luck with those, too).

  • twangy

    Exactly! Yes. BMI=load of rubbish. They had this girth measuring device at the doctor’s last time I was there, which I was none too fond of, seeing as how I “failed” it. But a combination of that and the pinch your arm to work out your body fat thing – AND some accounting for body type and fitness too – (very muscular people always register as obese on the BMI – or stocky like the JB – fittest person in the universe, overweight on the BMI(!)) and then, yes, then we’d be cooking with gas.

  • Melissia

    I too am struggling with the BMII beast currently, but for a different reason. My doc has also read those studies, as have I and before I go for donor embryo transfer in April would like me to lose weight. In theory I know it is an excellent idea, if I do get pregnant, of course I want to reduce my risk miscarriage as much as possible. But like you, I have PCOS, have already lost a considerable amount of weight and wearing an American size 12. I could lose another 20 pounds and I am forcing myself to, but I will be the thinnest I have ever been in my adult life.

  • Mina

    I actually read somewhere that according to the BMI, women that are in the overweight category are happier in life and tend to live longer. They also have a better sex life. I find that kinda funny.

  • Korechronicles

    Weight issues and their relationship to the BMI. Arse, I say! The refuge of cowards who find it an easy peg to hang various medical issues on…PCOS being only one of them. And then, when you have given it your all to starve and exercise yourself to within the so-called range of healthy, you find it makes no, or minimal, blinding difference to whatever it was that ailed you in the first place.

    There is far more research evidence, especially in recent years, to do with the hormonal conflict between leptin and grehlin for victory over our appetite and fat storage. It tends to show that it has more to do with how we eat (too often being one factor) and less to do with the what.

    Keep fighting the good fight May. No matter what the medical or weight judging community have to say. I’m right along side of you in the trenches.

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