A university in the oppressively polite, socialist utopia that is Canada recently removed the weight scale from its fitness center. As Today reports, Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario removed the scale over student concerns that it was “triggering.” This decision, naturally, has caused some controversy. Used abundantly in this debate are the buzzwords of the day: triggered, body positivity, and healthy at any size, among others.
Trigger warnings and other phrases of their ilk were intended to help those currently working through psychological trauma to avoid items that may cause them to be “triggered” and therefore reopen that mental wound. For those facing PTSD and other mental conditions, trigger warnings can be a godsend.
Trigger warnings are not, however, intended to warn someone they might be offended. Taking offense is not trauma and suggesting otherwise cheapens the experiences of those facing real trauma. For the sake of clairty: Eating disorders are not to be taken lightly. Body dysmorphia can be debilitating and life-threatening. Someone recovering from these problems could legitimately have issues when stepping on a scale.
But, a certain level of common sense needs to come with the concept of triggering. A fitness center is exactly that: a center concerned with fitness. While weight is not the end-all, be-all, metric of health, it is a factor and part of a larger picture of overall health and fitness.
Enter the extreme left of the Healthy at Any Size movement. While weight is not a perfect indicator of health, it is impossible to be healthy at any size. Obesity is objectively unhealthy. According to the CDC, the average medical cost for obese individuals is almost $1,500 more than those of normal weight. Obesity-related conditions like heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers are also considered leading causes of death in America. It is possible to be healthy without looking like someone on a magazine cover, but some sizes are objectively not so.
At the core of this movement is the concept of body positivity. Suggesting that one’s self-worth and identity should not be reliant on the physical shape of one’s body is a noble and legitimate cause. It goes without saying that society has often glamourized unrealistic expectations of body shape, and this has contributed to self-esteem and self-worth issues for millions of people. Being comfortable in your skin and recognizing that who you are is not only how you appear, should be promoted and celebrated.
However, like most things that Social Justice Warriors champion, the concept has been reduced to absurdity. SJWs demand that we accept people can be healthy at any size, and anything counter to the narrative is immediately shunned and ignored. Those who offer differing opinions are vilified and labeled a bigot or, in this case, some kind body-shaming brigand intent on seeking out and destroying the mental wellbeing of anyone with an elevated BMI. Being body positive and comfortable in your skin does not mean ignoring legitimate health concerns or pretending they do not exist in an attempt to feel better about yourself through willful ignorance.
What the body positivity movement does have going for them, and rightly so, is the fact that someone’s size is none of our business. Individual health is, well, individual. Now one could make the argument about increased healthcare costs and the burden it puts on the taxpayer, but realistically, that is not something you are going to fix by making fun of someone.
There is no need for you to tell some random stranger how overweight they are. They know that already. There’s a happy medium that we can find, and should occupy, between recognizing the legitimate health issues of being overweight and obese and being a decent human being to the people around us.
We can be kind without catering to oversensitivity. We can be empathetic without eliminating the ability for people to be challenged by their surroundings. Unfortunately, our cushioned, safe-space filled, first-world problems lifestyle has resulted in many of us forgetting a simple truth:
Life is a battle, and your body is your weapons system. If you do not maintain it, it will jam when you need it most.
I’ll see you in the gym, or maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll be by the scale.