Are we being re-programmed via an ever-growing press trend to not only accept obesity but laud its appearance and acceptance, as if it were an inherent and unchangeable, aesthetically pleasing characteristic, like eye color?
In the search for romance and partners, individuals are being vilified for stating preferences for slender/fit types, which heretofore was argued as biologically driven selectivity for healthy (fertile and able to bear children) partners. Parents are being condemned for not accepting their children’s obesity and castigated when they call it out, however hard it must be on all sides, regardless of the extreme level of destruction they are witnessing in their beloved children and trying to curtail. That this calling out is now also being done for the entertainment of the masses is its own monster; the desire for one’s warholian fifteen minutes overrides tact and privacy in this media saturated culture, where attention comes at vitalized cost. As it sells commercial spots, it is supported by big industry, from a mass media need to fill 24/7 time slots to all weight-related industries, whose success depends on the ongoing attempts and failures of their consumers.
Likewise, designers, retailers and their representatives are being attacked and boycotted when word that their demographic is not all-inclusive is viralized. Given the vast realm of physical and financial demographics, when ever was there a mandate that all clothing lines be manufactured for everyone? Fashion and wearables are material, materialistic products; this is a garment industry reality. Price point alone structures a bigger societal divider than any range of sizes and is not only accepted but celebrated.
Additionally, online and print articles prepare readers beforehand with warnings of disturbing, so-called “triggering“ images when a photo of a corseted or over-thin body is shown, yet articles everywhere else tout the beauty in obesity and champion its integration as a personal, permanent physical reality. Image after image and story after story of overweightedness/obesity is presented by the media for purposes of mass acceptance, admiration and even congratulatory support. In contrast, witness the viralization of non-celeb, fitness-boasting mom posters, bloggers and celebrities who are attacked and denigrated far more than they are congratulated for their slender forms, even if it is about the reclaiming of women’s pre-pregnancy figures.
Obesity is the result of overeating and a stagnant, sedentary lifestyle. The calories the body stores ultimately come from ingested food. Other life elements can exacerbate the degree of obesity and there are rare disorders that wreak havoc with the body, but overconsumption of food is the foundational, pivotal cause. Physical differences and body types will always result in different shapes within healthier, livable weight ranges. Most individuals will assuredly never be built or even look like the modern, pop culturally designated ideals. Some people will always be bigger, some will always be smaller. But to reach unhealthy levels of overweightedness and obesity, commensurate calories must be ingested. This fundamental admission is minimized or absent everywhere as society and the media employs its litany of 1001 excuses, which now include rampant government blaming. However, no one will ever become obese from gorging on genetically manipulated produce, nor will one ever become obese from eating in balance and balanced quantities the commercial crap that fills grocery store shelves and fast food orders, either. It’s not the bowl of neon-hued, fortified cereal in the morning that does it; it’s the entire box consumed at midnight.
Rampant health issues are a cascade effect brought on by obesity. Even weight-loss surgery, the medical industry’s newest darling, is now being singled out for its ill effects and frequent failure. Logic dictates these surgeries should contribute to post weight loss health issues, for weight loss surgery involves invasive implantation of foreign objects and the tampering of the body’s normal construction and function, something the body is designed to fight. Ironically, we see the cosmetic implantation industry continue to grow despite long-known, expensive and painful health ramifications, but vanity and outright laziness happily and voluntarily seek deep pockets in individuals’ deep-seated quests to “fix” one’s self in a society where the homogenized fake has found its own redefinition, that of status indicator and aesthetic acceptance.
When exactly and why did we turn the corner to where the weight conversation is less about bypassing the bypass or undoing it, less about conquering one’s eating disorders or changing one’s lifestyle with permanent intention and execution, and more about embracing the aesthetics of a condition that is now as before extremely costly and morbidly dangerous?
And publicity sells, even if where obesity re-programming is concerned it is now the conflicting deluge of mutually exclusive ideals. Today’s technology facilitated 24/7 media environment is designed to confuse the masses, who are incapable of filtering nuances in the information with which they are bombarded. There is no longer any difference between notoriety and fame. One obvious example is the best-selling Rolling Stone issue featuring the alleged Boston Marathon Bomber on its cover. Another example is the investment in campaign television commercials created solely to broadcast falsehoods, which though immediately called out, still sink elections. We, the collective audience, have become indiscriminate, macrophagic consumers; negative publicity is now equal to good publicity.
So it begs the questions:
Are the media and its recipients being manipulated by industries that know full well the malleability of overweight, unhealthy, searching souls, writers, readers, posters alike? How many deciding members of the media are themselves victims of these issues and unable to allow for unbiased disclosure of all sides of this conundrum? Our universal quest for acceptance and modern, confused notions of happiness do leave every last person susceptible, so the media deluge is sweetened and made more palatable with little, continuous doses of psych 101 reinforcement via rationalizaion through the aesthetic re-programming and perception manipulation of an unhealthy physical state of being.
Could the obesity re-programming trend be as home grown as the echo of individuals in the media who have become, likely unwittingly, unified in this thematic quest from their own negative experiences, or are they perhaps banking on this being the next big PC arena? The lure of success in the nearly infinite, virtual world of journalism/entertainment is as vicious a circle as is the yo-yo effect of repeated, failed weight loss attempts – who is being honest with whom, and once disseminated to the masses, who is able to separate unbiased journalism from the personal agendas of the nearly countless, at times anonymous – and certainly often unqualified – contributors and editors?
In the meantime, what I perceive – and caution against – is society being re-programmed via guilt, vilification and sheer information deluge into accepting obesity, in particular through admiring, lauding and supporting its appearance, as if the results (or non-results, as it were) of failed weight (and health) maintenance were a permanent feature and to be regarded only as such – and a pleasing one at that.
Huffington Post writer Kimann Schultz contacted me [Janet Bloomfield] to see if I might be willing to publish her piece on the obesity epidemic, and if we are being programmed to find obesity acceptable. Apparently, the HuffPo was not interested at all.
I think it’s a terrific article, and with Kimann’s permission, I’ve reprinted it here. If you want to check her references, you’ll need to click through to her blog, and click the article title in the black header.