What ‘slim’ looked like in 1940 – feedback

Scott Logan, who formerly served as Nova Scotia’s Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Promotions, responds to our observation that John F. Kennedy would seem skinny today:

This piece and the previous on “Your Lying Pants” speak so graphically to socializedKennedy norms. When the majority of people smoked it was “cool.” When—for various reasons—the tipping point was reached where the majority were non-smokers, the efforts to reduce tobacco’s harmful impact on society gained great momentum.  In tobacco, the strategy was based on “re-normalizing” society’s previous normal view of smoking. In other words the “new cool” was re-cast in a non-smoking image.

The health of the population is based on numerous factors, not the least of which are recognized determinants of health. However, with the majority of citizens in numerous North American jurisdictions overweight or obese it is difficult to re-normalize the perspective on healthy body weight, or to gain any sort of broad-scale momentum on health promotion efforts to reverse the tide.

It is a hugely complex issue, and so it is likely that until something fundamentally sociological changes our psyche on what’s a normal body weight and until we look at the agri-food industry with the same scrutiny tobacco companies now face,  it would seem that false waist sizing will continue to be a new norm all its own.

Contrarian has been trying to lose weight himself, a project that got underway last summer when my avoirdupois crept into the obese zone – 50 pounds above the upper limit of the normal range for my height (according to those BMI calculators).

I made good progress, shedding 30 pounds in a few months. Then something totally unexpected happened: a good friend demanded I stop dieting. He said I was starting to look unhealthily thin. In fact, I was (and am) still 20 pounds over the normal zone—20 pounds overweight, in other words, and 70 pounds above Kennedy’s weight, despite our shared height of six feet.

Losing 20 more pounds* will put me just inside the upper limit of the so-called normal range. Kennedy’s 150 pounds put him well above the lower limit of normal. As Logan points out, today’s social standards make that normal zone seem anything but.

*Readers are welcome to give me a deadline.

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