Health has become the ultimate trend. Far beyond the durability of our bodies and minds, the new idea of health is actually much more of an aesthetic one than a biological one. Do people really care about their health? Are they really in the gym training 6 days a week because they don’t want to have to get a hip replaced at 70? Or are they doing it because they want to be seen as healthy?
Far be it from me to tell anyone how they should take care of their bodies though. That’s up to every individual and I’m certainly in no position to judge anyone. We’re all just trying our best here – I get that. But what I do take real issue with is the way that we use the word “healthy” today.
Here are three reasons why I think we need to stop using it.
- It’s lazy and misleading. Health is such a complex subject. The factors that contribute to a person’s health are so vast and varied, scientists still know very little about why our bodies do the things they do. Saying a person is healthy or unhealthy (especially without conducting a detailed physical and mental exam) is such a blanket statement to make about something we still know so little about.
- It’s one dimensional. It never ceases to amaze me how often people continue to talk about health in a strictly physical sense. What about mental health? What about emotional health? Despite there being a real movement of mental health advocacy in the last five years, we still seem to talk about health in terms of the physical body only.
- It’s marginalizing. I honestly don’t know how this has happened, but somehow health has become a moral issue in recent years. We’re now led to believe that we are contractually obliged to be healthy, and that if we’re not putting our (physical) health above all other things in life, there’s something immoral about that. What about the people who will never and can never fit into the “healthy” mold? What about those with chronic illnesses or diseases? What about those with disabilities? By moralizing health, we exclude and marginalize those who don’t have a choice. Which is fucked up.
What’s The Alternative?
Instead of bandying around the word “health” in such a flippant and uninformed way, I’d love to see us moving towards talking about how we take care of ourselves.
At least that doesn’t pretend to be based on hard scientific facts and is holistic instead of one dimensional.
The idea of taking care of yourself also allows for diversity and the idea of what may look healthy for one person looks different for another.
Finally, the idea of taking care of yourself is based on a feeling of self love. It’s not harsh or punitive. It implies a sense of self love in practice, which is something we could all benefit from. Right?
What are your experiences of the word “healthy”? Do people use it as an excuse to body shame you? Have you ever felt bad for not being as healthy as your sister or cousin or colleague? Do you really believe people are that invested in health, or do you think it’s all just about staying on trend?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below!