Wednesday, September 22, 2010


In our culture, thin is “in.” There are all kinds of opposing views over negative body image and how the media may contribute to it. Is it that the media promotes an ideal that we as a society passively accept, or is it that the media is responding to something that’s already there? For example, in certain African cultures, fat is “all that.” Before a girl gets married she will be sent to a “fattening” tent and force fed until she gains weight. Extra weight is considered sexy. Women put on as many clothes as they can before they step onto a scale, hoping to see the number be just a little bit higher. That is the exact opposite of the common practice of removing shoes and socks in the hopes of seeing a lower number .

People say, “Look at us Westerners, we’re so lame, we should learn from these women in other countries.” It’s not that simple. I notice two crazy things about these opposing perceptions of weight and beauty. First and foremost, why is it that the ideal is the opposite of what is easiest? As in, in our culture, where food is over abundant, why isn’t the ideal to be larger … because it’s so easy to keep weight on with all of our high calorie and affordable options? And in areas where food is more scarce, where it would be almost natural to maintain a low weight, why is the ideal heftiness? What the heck? Are we as humans masochistic?

The second and more troubling thing I notice is the gendered way these ideals manifest. Why is it always put primarily on women to bear the brunt of body size/beauty standards? I don’t have an answer to this question, but I am definitely interested in researching it, formally and informally. In order for us to do away with the policing of body size, we have to understand who’s doing the policing and why. I don’t think we can blame it all on Cosmo and Vogue… most of it, but not all.

No comments:

Post a Comment