The Image Of Body Weight

By: Scotch Q. Ennis..

Though it may be difficult to believe, there was a period when additional body fat did not present a negative in the slightest; in fact, additional body padding was once accepted as an indication of prestige. The assessment went that an individual with body fat held the ability to eat amply and do so frequently. It should be documented that this particular perception was accepted during a period and in locations where food deficiencies and food absence could and did happen.

Times have certainly changed.

Excess body weight, especially in Western culture, is not only no longer considered favorable, there's now a strong negative stigma attached to it. This stigma is reflected in the reality that, in most of the West, food is plentiful and easily accessible (though not always easily had, depending upon a person's circumstances). But food plenty isn't the only reason for a change in perceptions about excess weight. Two other reasons also provide explanation: it's now common knowledge that excess body weight is unhealthy; and the media regularly displays imagery of thin people.

The media's show of thin is a powerful image-maker. The visual of slender bodies, often presented in highly desirable ways, leaves a strong impression. And the media shows these visuals over and over again, so the impression is maintained.

This isn't an effort to suggest the media is pushing visuals as a means of poisoning society's values. We must all accept that we are responsible for that which we believe, and how we respond to our values. Still, it's illusion to argue that the media's wide reach doesn't impact belief.

For all intents and purposes, the media's display of the thin, chiseled body type is meant for commercialism. The media hopes to present a desirous image and ascribe some product or other to it. Their basic motivation is to turn a sale, and they're presenting body imagery as a way see it happen.

But trouble can occur when the public endeavors to imitate the "perfect" body visual they get from the media. Eating dysfunctions are a possible result. The extensiveness of food disorders in Western society is surely related to frequent media imagery of slim, and the innuendo that a lean body is exceptionally pleasing.

Then there's the emotional hurt and suffering felt by those whose bodies aren't the same as slender. Large people in society sometimes take a psychological crushing because of their image. They're at the wrong end of the shinning example. They're less -- or so the belief and the interaction sometimes goes.

A well body is a positive thing. A shapely body is a positive thing. But, difficult as it may be to do when dealing with so much imagery coming straight at us, each of us individually must put together our own principles when it comes to what's a pleasing body look, and what is not pleasing. When we allow the media to establish these sorts of values for us, we fix ourselves into an exposed, and potentially harmful position.

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