Why should medical health practitioners, exclusively, define what counts as overweight? Why is the evaluation of mass automatically medicine’s jurisdiction? Since when did medicine, or science, generally, intentionally make evaluative claims and use evaluative language? (This is part of the problem with Sam Harris’ naturalist morality) Science can’t make evaluative claims in good faith. It can make claims conditional on values or descriptive claims, but not normative claims. Medicine can make the claim, “Being such and such a mass is bad if you want don’t disease X,” and the claim, “There is a positive correlation between mass and type-2 diabetes”, but not the claim, “So and so is overweight”/”You weigh too much”. What’s more, medicine CANNOT legitimately label someone overweight, and we should not accept it when they do.
The medical metric/s for determining whether one is overweight is just that—medical. The judgment is perpsectival. From the perspective of modern, Western medicine, one may or may not be overweight, but from the perspective of some other group of people (a professional community or individual) the judgment that one is overweight ought to be completely divorced from the medical determination.
The issue is more complex, because the fashion industry, the media, and the medical establishment collude to reinforce this totalizing and absolutizing use of the world “overweight.”
The pejorative use of “fat” and “overweight” is a load of crock. The label depends on an arbitrary division of people into either the acceptable/normal/thin category or the unacceptable/abnormal/fat category. This division ignores the graduated nature of the spectrum—there are an infinite number of different possible masses! (not to mention the obvious fact that the words “fat” and “overweight” are relational). Again, the labels “fat” and “overweight” are idiosyncratic, contextual determinations which lack universal, absolute meanings.
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