Catching Dick: Not Why We Care About Weight

Amy Schumer said in her humorous acceptance speech at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards: “I’m like 160 pounds right now, and I can catch a dick whenever I want, and that’s the truth.”

The line, like many in her speech, is obviously very funny. But the humor is directed at a misperception that is not so funny. With our society’s superficial focus on youth and appearance, we have emphasized all the wrong reasons for maintaining a healthy body weight, which has nothing to do with “catching dick.” We are sold the idea that remaining slim is primarily important as a means of attracting the opposite sex, rather than as a path to good health and longevity. That inherent and unquestioned assumption about our motivations for weight loss is why Schumer’s line is in fact so humorous. But being overweight, even by a little, is no laughing matter.

I have written much in the past that fat is not fit; any claim in that direction is just wishful and dangerous thinking. But such thinking remains common. Here is a typical claim we see in the media, in this case the June 4, 2015, Daily Mail: “…even if you are fat, the key to prolonging your life seems to be how fit you are.” Wrong.

This misleading media play goes on even though the theory that a person can be overweight but healthy has been disproven repeatedly. Some confusion arises because in 1998, the National Institute of Health claimed a person could be overweight and be considered healthy; but the report has been fully repudiated by more recent studies.

Last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie —> Read More