According to the Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc.
- Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
- 40 – 60% of high school girls diet.
- 50% of girls between the ages of 13 and 15 believe they are overweight.
- 80% of 13-year-old girls have dieted.
- 40% of 9 year old girls dieted.
Where do these girls get their body image information? From the media, who decide what is beautiful and plaster it on everything from magazines, TV, movies, billboards and advertising in stores. Heck, many other countries prize larger women. They associate thinness with illness, while being larger is associated with health and wealth. Marrying a woman with bigger hips, stomachs, and breasts is considered a good thing, as her body size is considered an indication of her potential to be a good child bearer and mother. It is mainly here in the US that we prize being underweight. Honestly, it was not always this way. Slowly, society is moving away from the super thin, unhealthy body image and starting to embrace the idea of a fuller-figured woman as happy and healthy, but right now we’re still having to overcome the notion that being a smiling curvy girl is glorifying being fat.
So, let me ask you this: What is the difference between having a healthy body image and glorifying obesity?
If you have read any of my posts you know that I have been fat my whole life and even now after losing a lot of weight I am still considered obese. Before losing some of the weight I definitely had body image problems. I felt worthless and ugly no matter what I did. Now, even though I am still overweight, I am happy with me. I am healthy; I do not have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or high cholesterol, all things that are usually linked to being overweight. I can walk 3 miles or exercise hard for an hour and not feel pain the next day. I honestly can say that I do not want to be a 120 pound stick figure. My husband would not like that either! LOL! So am I glorifying being fat by saying that I am happy with myself? I don't think so. It is really simple. There are healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people (and visa versa). Some people eat lots of junk food, exercise very little and never get fat. Some fat people exercise 5 days a week and eat a healthy diet. But our society values one shape over another and therefore no matter how healthy I may be I will still be treated poorly because I do not fit into that box. Actually, I crush the box, and I am ok with that!
I feel that the people who are seen as glorifying obesity are the people who do not want to change or do not know how to. It may be to say that they are happy with their lives so that they can continue to eat as unhealthy as they want and wear clothes revealing clothes while claiming that being fat is great! I'm sorry, but those people are fooling themselves. Being fat is not fun. I pretended with a lot of people that I thought I was good looking and happy. I put on a great show or mask, but off stage the reality was not as I portrayed. Unfortunately, we do have TV shows that portray fat people as happy go lucky and all good with being unhealthy.
What needs to be promoted is a healthy body image. We send kids home from school with shaming letters because their body mass index is higher than the random number we have come up with. We don't take into consideration that there are times in children’s and adolescent’s growth and development that they naturally will add weight, which they then lose as their bodies grow. We push kids into dieting, while we eat normally in front of them like we’re punishing them for how they look. Why not change the whole family’s eating and exercise habits so that everyone benefits?