Friday, February 7, 2014

The Fat-Skinny Dichotomy

It's no small secret, in America we are obsessed with weight. If people don't weigh too much they weigh too little. We have magazines that butcher people from head to toe - cutting and cropping, smoothing and blurring, and even engorging when necessary (small boobs are small boobs, people, let's stop trying to make them something they're not). Yet, at the very same time, we have article after article about people battling with their weight, tricks celebrities use to stay thin, how to lose ten pounds, the easy guide to eating better, the 7 minute workout guaranteed to help you lose weight (sure, if you tack it onto the end of an hour-long session in the gym).

Magazines offer us a difficult, if not impossible, standard to live up to; however, in those very same magazines are pieces about how important it is to be proud of your body no matter what size you are, big, little, curvy...no boobs, love your body! But media, you just told me that my body isn't good enough and that I need to lose weight, and now you're telling me to be proud of it?

We have a media culture that is telling us we're too fat and that's not okay, but that we should be happy about being too fat and proud of who we are. How is that possible? At what point is it not okay to be proud that you are carrying an extra 50-100+ pounds?

Now, don't get me wrong - the self-loathing that often accompanies body image can be crippling and devastating on so many levels. Obesity has not only spread from an epidemic, but is now considered a disease, and I fully comprehend that "just lose some weight," is like saying, "just go lift up that car." And I can appreciate the movement that you should love you, and it's absolutely right. You SHOULD love you. You're great!

But loving you and being okay with being unhealthily overweight are not the same thing. Loving you enough to do something about it is where the true strength lies.

I believe that these problems run far deeper than just surface level media. Much of it starts with ignorance about what a good diet should look like, this spills over into healthy foods being drastically more expensive than unhealthy foods (seriously, go price a loaf of white Wonderbread at the store), and then the entire cake is iced with a delicious frosting of "You're too fat and need to lose weight, but hey! Don't forget to love yourself for it!"

By calling obesity a disease, we have turned it into something that can be "cured," and I think that helps provide a goal to strive for. But when the media presents us with this weird it's okay to be fat, only it's really not dichotomy, I think they not only set unrealistic expectations for what's actually attainable, but send an extremely mixed message -"You should feel bad about being fat because you don't look like Gorgeous Bombshell on our cover, but if you can find a way to feel good about it, then good for you. Have a guilt-free cookie, Chubs."

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