Advertisers have been exploiting the vulnerability of women with misleading messages about the ideal woman for over a hundred years. From small to large to small again.
In many cultures and historical periods women have been proud to be curvy and even, by our standards, fat. To some it was a sign of fertility and strength. Unfortunately, the weight loss, medical, and advertising industries, the media and main stream society in general insist that thin is the only beautiful. This plays a large role in our unhealthy obsession with body weight and size. Women who are overweight by today’s standards are faced with discrimination and social ridicule.
Often large women who are concerned about their health are afraid to be seen at the gym or running in the park, for fear of public humiliation.
People laugh and smirk (look at that fat lady running) and it feels hurtful and humiliating. People smile encouragingly (Good for you) and it can feel patronizing and discouraging.
For many, the stress of eating in public or even in private contributes to eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. This can take a serious toll on one’s self esteem and unfortunately when our confidence is down we are probably least likely to take care of ourselves, i.e. eat healthily and weight loss exercise regularly. In addition it can slow down the metabolism, contributing to more weight gain and cause permanent and even fatal damage.
These days, girls seem to be body aware and image conscience at a younger and younger age.
Constantly bombarding impressionable children, in the formative years of their growth and development, with ideals that are impossible to live up to can easily trigger feelings of inferiority and lead to long lasting emotional issues, negative self image, poor nutrition and medical problems.
It is detrimental that women stop aspiring to be the women on TV, in magazines, and in movies, and realize that not only have these images have been altered by computers, plastic surgery, makeup and flattering camera angles but many of these celebrities live extremely unhealthy lives; many of them smoke or take pills, eat restrictive diets, and have abusive exercise schedules. Most of these women do not represent ideals of fitness or health.
It is imperative that we, as women, begin to support and encourage each other more, instead of perpetuating the problem by contributing to the supply and demand of weight loss products and anti-feminist, media produced propaganda.
We must realize that healthy, fit and confident are, always have been and always will be more beautiful than starving and self sacrificing. It’s time to stop beating our selves up for who or what we are not and embrace ourselves and each other for who we really are.