Losing a little weight can do wonders for your sex life. So says Duke University psychologist Martin Binks, who presented a study Monday at a meeting of The Obesity Society showing that shedding a few pounds can improve things in the bedroom by making people feel better about their bodies.Now, I’m not disputing that many people would be healthier if they lost weight, and I’ve made it no secret around here that my fat arse could stand to lose a few pounds. But for crying out loud, this study is utter bullshit. For obese people who have mental and emotional problems associated with intimacy, obesity itself is rarely the root of the problem—the constant drumbeat that the obese should be ashamed of themselves is the problem.
"You reap a lot of benefit from a moderate weight loss of 10 percent," Binks said. "It's a wonderful message. You don't have to reach some ideal weight to be healthy and happy."
It is one of the few studies to examine the mental and emotional problems that obesity can cause for intimacy, not just the physical troubles such as hormone imbalances or impotence.
Those who disdain proponents of fat acceptance love to say that if people love themselves in spite of being overweight, they will never be motivated to lose the weight. But, in reality, as Ampersand has pointed out:
there has never been a diet that's been shown in a peer-reviewed study to lead to healthy, sustainable weight loss in most fat people over the long run. Much more often than not, weight loss dieting leads to depression, damaged self-esteem, moodiness, long-term weight gain, and in some cases the ill effects of weight cycling - but not to long-term weight loss.Indeed, the referenced article about how losing weight can improve one’s sex life notes that those enrolled in the diet program “regained some of the pounds they initially shed.” So what, exactly, does that mean for the sustainability of the mental and emotional problems that weight loss is supposed to cure?
For the vast majority of overweight people, a Health at Every Size approach is better, because the fact is, some people will never be able to lose and keep off weight, even if they increase their healthfulness, which everyone can do. When we look at every fat person as the same, tar them immediately with the unhealthy brush, and scream that fat acceptance is the same as encouraging bad health, we’re discounting what is likely the best solution for most overweight people—being healthy at their current weights. And not just physically healthy, but mentally and emotionally healthy, too. Ampersand again:
Given the incredibly high failure rate of weight-loss diets over the long run - and the damage done by failed weight-loss diets not only to physical well-being, but also to self-esteem and mental health - I don't believe that pushing weight-loss as a remedy is justified. Weight-loss fanatics have dominated the conversation about fat for over half a century; what can they show for their efforts? Are Americans now less fat? Are we happier about our weights and our bodies?I say the time for a new approach has arrived. The insistence on associating self-esteem with weight is not helping people get thinner or healthier. It’s only making people feel like shit. Health at every size, beauty at every size, self-acceptance at every size. I’m never going to be a size 2, and you know what? I don’t have to be. Not to be happy, and not to get laid. This body—fat arse and big tits and all—has never been a liability, because I don’t believe it is…in spite of the barrage of messages I get every day telling me differently. Pfft.
Pressuring Americans to be thinner has a record of utter failure for longer than most of us have been alive. If people were capable of thinking reasonably about weight, that would be enough to convince most of us that it's time to try a different approach. But anti-fat ideology is too powerful, much more powerful than logic. It doesn't matter how much the new data differs from the old: the remedy is always the same. Diet, diet, diet, weight, weight, weight.