TV makes people fat.
Just not for the reasons you think.
We laze there stuffing our faces with junk, such as Oprah, 90210, Jersey Shore, American Idol, and the like. Sure, we also stuff our mouths with over-processed, under-nourished snack foods, but we stuff our minds with something that may be even worse.
If TV (and other media) didn’t try so hard to portray skinny as the ultimate image, there would not be as many fat people.
In our impatient attempts to acquire the perfect bodies, we damage them even more. Often multiplying our fat cells with temporary-fix diets, while harming our bodies and metabolism through dangerous and expensive means.
Dozens of studies have linked ideal body image to media exposure.
Instilling the need. Playing on the fear. Dangling the snake oil.
TV and magazines sell you reasons why you need to appear a certain way. And then sell you ways you can be as thin as Madonna, Teri Hatcher, or Valerie Bertinelli.
Rarely do they sell you reasons to be intelligent or ways to be as knowledgeable as … Well, who even knows who is knowledgeable? It is exceptional to hear of such people.
This is an argument that may have been made thousands and thousands of times. So why debate it yet again?
Because, regardless of how much of our society’s potential is sacrificed in pursuit of senseless ideals, and how many of our young people’s lives are lost or squandered as result of this, the point has yet to be made, or rather, accepted.
In a time when we are all so quick to jump on the anti-bullying bandwagon – a more than important cause, highly deserving of the attention – we still fail to acknowledge the scope of the insidious bullying tactics used by the media.
Bullying creates an imbalance of power whether on a physical or social scale.
The media use tactics that bully people of all ages, including young girls – and boys, into adopting unhealthy, unrealistic ideals to be consistent with social norms as defined by them, the media.
While there exists outstanding pressure for females to be thinner, males are pressured into being more muscular.
McLean Hospital, a leader in psychiatric study in the United States, finds an alarming trend in boys’ desire to mirror the bodies of action figures. The hospital likens its seriousness to that of girls who aim to mirror Barbies.
Its observations of these little plastic toys and their effects on boys have led to further links between media messages, body image disorders and use of steroids and other drugs.
Beauty, as is often presented to us on TV or in magazines, is enshrined in an illusion. It is a big business and a big effort to attempt to even attain – let alone maintain it.
Acceptable Beauty never sweats, will not wrinkle, and boasts a shiny head of hair – yet, remains hairless everywhere else.
Most important, Acceptable Beauty has the body of a nymph-like 12-year-old girl with a grown woman’s bust.
Kind of like an ant carrying a couple Cheerios.
The quest for perfection is endless, the products to pursue it are limitless, the body hatred is devastating, and the damage to our self-esteem is handicapping.
There are 3 billion women in the world who do not look like supermodels and eight who do. Factor in Hollywood, and not nearly one per cent of the world’s population has set the standard for general cultural acceptance.
The “thin ideal” is indeed so thin that this minute faction of society sets the goal.
And it’s not just about thin or muscular anymore either. We are living in a “Too, Too” culture. “I’m too tall… Too short… Too bald… Too hairy… Too light… Too dark…”
Body image is a big issue for some, small for others, but pretty much an issue for almost everybody.
In the animal kingdom, some animals rely on sounds to recognize each other. That is why birds chirp, wolves howl, and trees bark. Some animals, such as dogs, rely on scent.
Humans primarily rely on sight. The appearance of a positive body image, befitting of cultured expectations, denotes success.
Conversely, a negative body image denotes failure.
And if appearance is our measuring stick, cosmetic surgery is our magic stick.
Cosmetic surgery is not even a recognized specialty in Canada; nonetheless, there are countless “specialists” out there. Any doctor in the country with a license to practice medicine can be a plastic surgeon.
So Fake is the new Real. And really fake is the goal. Health, kindness, compassion, and intelligence almost seem inconsequential.
Sure, not all girls abandon academics. Still trying for the As – but more and more so they can get Cs and Ds upon graduation – C and D cups that is. Yup. One of the most requested graduation gifts in North America for girls…
There are many girls however, who do abandon academics for plyometrics or anything that can reduce their weight. The number 1 wish for girls eleven to 17 is to be thinner. And many pour themselves into this quest, forsaking their futures.
Study after study links images on TV and in magazines to the development of eating disorders, disordered eating, and serious body image issues.
Disordered eating and body image issues may not take lives, but they do take livelihoods.
Eating disorders do take lives, and are steadily on the rise, for males and females, killing ten to 20 per cent of their victims.
Imagine if that many kids died from bullying at school.
How many lives have to be wasted, and how many more people have to die before we accept the fat and accept this as bullying too?
Today, while everybody is so intent on bullying and stopping it, do not forget some of the biggest bullies of all. The media.
Bullying the fat to be skinny, bullying the skinny to be skinnier, while ultimately bullying the whole of society into being fat, one sit-com, one reality show, one diet pill, and one bad boob job at a time.
The media. They truly are, big fat-bullies.
So, instead of bowing to the bully and working so senselessly to reduce poundage, let’s finally work willfully to shed our cultural bondage.