Out of all the anti-vax myths to stick around these 18 months, the one that bothers me the most is COVID isn’t really a problem if you’re “healthy.” Somehow this misconception persists despite the well-documented, ongoing and debilitating effects of long COVID amongst everyone, the young and healthy included. The problem, of course is that word “healthy” and the fact that culturally, this country has no idea what that word means.
I worked at a gym for years and I can tell you first-hand that our collective understanding of healthy exercise is neither understanding nor healthy. It’s barely exercise. Personal trainers frequently lead their clients to injury. A reason for this could be that so many of their certifications are in fact scams.
American medicine itself is a business stunningly unconcerned with health. Milk doesn’t do what you think it does. The food pyramid is a con. Many doctors still use BMI as a health indicator despite its racist history and the fact that it’s complete nonsense. The entire American concept of health is designed around a beauty standard by and for white men.
As a friend succinctly posted the other day, weight is not an indicator of health; health is not an indicator of worth.
Also, contrary to popular belief, health is not so much of an individual responsibility as much as a reflection of an individual’s environment. We tell 24 million Americans living in food deserts to eat better. We tell 31 million uninsured Americans to be sure to get regular checkups. We tell the 45 million Americans struggling to get out of poverty to make more time for themselves. We tell the 52 million Americans struggling with mental health that they just need to get motivated. And we tell the 61 million American adults living with a disability that they just need to exercise more. And we tell them all of this in the most ableist ways possible.
This solution to the pandemic is not on the individual and blaming each other will not get us out of this. We will, however, continue to face variant after variant of the coronavirus until we understand that our collective health is on us collectively and demand that our institutions act accordingly. Until then, wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Do it for someone else.
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