What the fuck is up with the BMI, anyway? Can I please just rail against it here for a minute? Why do I feel so horrible about being in the “obese” category? I KNOW that I’m a goddamn size 8 and I have big boobs and work out a lot so the BMI is full of shit. Being obese isn’t some horrible flaw anyway! That a column about men and women and diet culture is stupid for using the BMI scale to call motherfucking NFL athletes “obese” and “whales”. Why do I know that the BMI and even the number on the scale is an idiotic way to determine health and self-worth, and yet I STILL feel guilty for not being more slim?

When did this guilt begin? With my genetic heritage of swarthy, busty Latina-ness? Growing up with my mom who, like most Colombian women, is obsessed with weight and would happily drop a few thousand pesos on liposuction and permanent make-up? Or was it college, along with the stress-eating, the copious alcohol intake, and the lack of time to exercise? When I got the job where I sit at a desk? Or was it as simple as a lifetime of ads and doctors and the BMI telling me what’s normal and “healthy”? Goddammit, why is there so much conspiring against us? Why does it affect me so much even when I’m an independent fierce feminist who knows this shit is stupid, who knows that “obesity” does not mean “bad” or “a failure”?

I’ve been reading all kinds of body positive blogs– fatshionista, eat the damn cake, etc.—trying to get a handle on this. I’m in therapy. I look at myself in the mirror and remind myself of the parts I find slammin’. I try to practice mindful eating. I exercise almost every day, but never weigh myself. My partner tells me I’m beautiful. I read studies about how “obesity” is arbitrary and not actually well correlated to increased morbidity or illness. And I know all these things are true and useful and should make me feel like a strong female, hear me roar. But every single day, while I’m walking around with the swagger of a confident lady who never thinks about these absurd things, I find myself thinking, if only I could fix my upper arms, if only I could flatten that weird bulge at my hip bone, if only my thighs were slightly more defined…

Then what? Would there be more to fix if I attacked my “problem areas” with crazy diets and furious weights or even, as I sometimes am tempted by, lipo? Would it ever end? Will I ever stop feeling guilty about my body, and then feeling ashamed for feeling guilty?

The thing is, I can’t diet. I just can’t do it. Diets to me are like lipo: hugely prohibitive, dangerous for my health, and it doesn’t even guarantee that the fat stays off—in fact, to the contrary, as we all know, the weight almost always come back. I know that’s true. And I still hear the siren song of HCG or fasting or that weird cayenne pepper one or…

So, I exercise and exercise, trying to enjoy the endorphins and peacefulness, but I still have the nagging thought: ‘the fat would come off faster, you’d get toned faster, if you just stopped eating so much.’ I feel almost lucky that I can’t even bring myself to stop eating carbs and cheese, because I think that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop until I was as hyper-regimented and disordered about food as humanly possible. I think I’m scared of how far I’d take it, of how much of myself I’d be willing to sacrifice for thinness: my Colombian curves, my time, my mind, my health. I think that once I started buying into what the BMI is telling me to do, I would be willing to sacrifice everything. It makes me ashamed to say it but I have to fight it every day: ‘I am not obese, I am not obese, I am not obese… ‘