Is it Unrealistic for Women to be Lean?

White aviator and equestrian Beryl Markham grew up in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Many women are participating in a campaign to criminalize the publication of Photoshopped pictures, claiming that it deceives women into believing that they can be lean. One YouTube video advocating these laws has attracted 16m views. Unfortunately, this displays an ignorance of history. Humans in their natural state are lean and native peoples were lean prior to adopting Western diets. For instance, thousands of Kenyans fought WWII, ate a Paleo Diet, and were considerably leaner than their British counterparts. The British tried to fatten them but the Kenyans refused to eat Western food. There is nothing special about black African genes; whites such as Beryl Markham, author of West With the Night, were lean because they grew up in Kenya and ate African food.

Kenyan soldiers on a WWII minesweeper, courtesy of the UK National Archives.

My wife Mary stands 5’7″ and weighs 125 pounds, as she did when graduating from high school hundreds of years ago. She eats all the food she pleases and exercises only 12 minutes each morning, running on a treadmill, much to my chagrin, as I think she’d optimize her health if she exercised 30 minutes each day. I stand 6’0″ and weigh 175 pounds, as I did decades ago. Most people believe that one can be lean only with heavy exercise but that’s not so. Diet is much more important than exercise.

Our culture is accustomed to food that our digestive system can’t process; we’re not endowed with a big protruding stomach that ferments plants like a chimpanzee, sheep, or cow. Instead, we’re an omnivore that eats meat to operate our large heads, consuming great energy. Eskimos become healthy while eating lean meat exclusively; vegetarians must eat carefully to gain sufficient calories and avoid plants that require fermenting. Wheat and other cereals, corn (maize), rice and refined sugar degrades health. Dairy, including pizza and other cheese, is food suitable for baby cows but is only healthy for starving humans who want to gain weight, as most Europeans were 5000 years ago when developing the ability to digest lactose.

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