So, what’s your fat age? Every woman should know their fat age — and luckily for you, there is now a way to calculate this. If you are clueless about what a fat age is, it’s simple: a fat age is a way to shame you into feeling bad about both your eating habits and your age.
This story comes to us courtesy of The Daily Mail, and they link to a “Fat Age Calculator” that “is designed to give you a very rough indication of whether or not you are eating too much fat and saturated fat.” It may be worth noting, however, that even the calculator’s website admits that:
“Fat Age” is not a clinically recognised term. This calculator is simply designed to give you a rough idea of whether you are eating too much fat or saturated fat. The calculator assumes that what you tell us about your dietary intake has changed little during your adult years since you turned 18.
So it’s not clinically recognized — and you’d have to be on pretty much the exact same diet for your entire adult life for this to even pretend to mean anything — but why let little details like that get in the way of using “fat age” to make women qualify their worth based on their diet?
The article asks seven celebrities (my American self only recognized one of them: Britt Eklund) to use the “calculator” and then they spill every last detail of their eating habits. Somehow, of the two women come out with a fat age of over ninety. This is starting to seem about as accurate as that Facebook quiz that named John Mayer as my ideal celebrity boyfriend.
It’s hard to know what the worst part of this article is. It links to this thoroughly disreputable calculator that doesn’t seem to be recognized by any physicians; it is notable that not a single doctor, nurse, or dietician is quoted in the piece. They’re not even trying to pretend this is something that has any real scientific basis, but there are apparently no qualms about putting the link to the calculator in the article so that readers can use it to judge their own bodies. If “fat age” somehow becomes part of the vernacular — doubtful, perhaps, but I always have my hackles up about these things — it will be even more idiotic than the fact that BMI is used as a be-all end-all calculation by some people.
Basically, every woman in the piece has her real age listed next to her fat age, and then lists her dress size before reciting all the details of her dietary habits. These are seemingly the only measures by which a woman should judge herself. The article is obsessed with numbers, which strikes a very unsettling chord to me. Reducing women to a series of figures and measurements in the name of pseudo-scientific bullshit is horrendously irresponsible. One woman says that “I don’t eat beef and only eat a little lamb, and I was sure I had a low-fat diet…In the supermarket, I am drawn to the chocolate aisle like a magnet. I think that as it doesn’t give me spots or make me fat, it isn’t doing me any harm, but this test has made me dramatically re-think my beliefs.” Terrific. (There is another woman who says that “As a gymnast, I used to control my weight by not eating, but I know now that is silly.” The use of “silly” to describe self-starvation makes my hands ball into fists.)
I gave in to my own curiosity and took the damned quiz. It just asks you to enter in the number of times per week you currently eat a certain food, a qualifier that won’t do anyone much good given that it is almost unheard of for someone’s diet to remain exactly the same for an extended period of time. Basically, the quiz is a bullshit snapshot, one that helpfully says at the bottom of the page that they will provide some links to weight-loss products if you’re unhappy with the results.
Here’s the thing: even though I know it’s bullshit, I was still anxious to have a “low” number, because base a frightening degree of my self-worth on things that revolve around my weight — and I’m not alone in doing so. And even though I know the Daily Mail article is another exercise in idiocy, sometimes idiocy has consequences. These kinds of “fluff” articles that are written under the guise of promoting good health simply serve to whittle women down to the barest minimum of criteria for who they are as people, namely sizes and weights. While the calculator can be used by either men or women, the article doesn’t seem to care about what a man’s fat age might be. By putting this in the Femail [sic] section of the newspaper’s website rather than the health section, it shows that these kinds of stories have nothing to do with “healthy fats” or “unhealthy fats” or anything of the sort; instead their aim is to define women by their appearance and what they put into their bodies. Given the fact that I caved and calculated my fat age despite knowing it was scientifically and medically unfounded, maybe I should congratulate them on accomplishing their mission.