A recent iOS Google Maps update has caused backlash from many for encouraging eating disorders and fat-shaming. The new feature shows how many calories you would burn by walking a distance instead of driving, and how many mini cupcakes that the walk would equate to in calories. But these arguments against the update reveal a greater truth: people are too quick to take offense when it comes to anything related to their health.
“Do they realize how extremely triggering something like this is for ppl who have had eating disorders? Not to mention just generally shamey”, tweeted one woman named Taylor Lorenz. Many have had similar criticisms of the update. Stephanie Zerwas, clinical director of the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders at the University of North Carolina, told the New York Times, “We’ve gotten into this habit of thinking about our bodies and the foods we take in and how much activity we do as this mathematical equation, and it’s really not. The more we have technology that promotes that view, the more people who may develop eating disorders might be triggered into that pathway.”
Let’s face it. Today’s culture is too sensitive towards body-shaming. The reality is that an alarming portion of Americans are overweight, and that measures need to be taken to combat this issue. Data from the 2013-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reported more than one in three adults were considered to be overweight. Yet, a navigation app offering the approximate calories burned during a walk is what people take issue with. Is this really where our concerns should lie?
The recent body-image movement is wonderful; all shapes and sizes are praised as beautiful, and stick-thin models are no longer seen as the idealistic woman. Plus-sized models such as Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence are pervading the fashion industry and becoming household names. But, such progress comes with a consequence. This widespread acceptance of all body types implies the idea that it’s okay to be overweight.
Of course everyone should feel comfortable with their own image. But a person’s health should not be put aside just so self-esteem isn’t damaged. An app suggesting that someone walks instead of drives isn’t “shamey”- it’s a valid suggestion. Google Maps is simply promoting a healthier lifestyle for its users, and given the alarming number of people who probably could use a walk, it’s not so far-fetched.