Though it may be difficult to believe, there was a period when additional body fat did not present a negative in the slightest; in fact, additional body padding was once accepted as an indication of prestige. The assessment went that an individual with body fat held the ability to eat amply and do so frequently. It should be documented that this particular perception was accepted during a period and in locations where food deficiencies and food absence could and did happen.
Times have certainly changed.
Excess body weight, especially in Western culture, is not only no longer considered favorable, there’s now a strong negative stigma attached to it. This stigma is reflected in the reality that, in most of the West, food is plentiful and easily accessible (though not always easily had, depending upon a person’s circumstances). But food plenty isn’t the only reason for a change in perceptions about excess weight. Two other reasons also provide explanation: it’s now common knowledge that excess body weight is unhealthy; and the media regularly displays imagery of thin people.
The media’s presentation of lean is a forceful image-maker. The image of lithe bodies, often exhibited in highly pleasing ways, leaves a substantial imprint. And the media presents these visuals time and time again, so perceptions are retained.
This isn’t meant to imply the media is using imagery to somehow poison society’s consciousness. We must all take responsibility for what we believe in, and how we act upon our belief systems. Still, it’s fallacy to believe the media’s vast reach fails to affect opinion.
Essentially, the media’s depiction of the thin, majestic body image is used for commerce. The media is trying to convey a pleasing image and affix a commercial item to it. They’re looking for profit, and they’re consciously presenting body image to make it happen.
But trouble can occur when the public endeavors to imitate the “perfect” body visual they get from the media. Eating dysfunctions are a possible result. The extensiveness of food disorders in Western society is surely related to frequent media imagery of slim, and the innuendo that a lean body is exceptionally pleasing.
Then there’s the emotional hurt and suffering felt by those whose bodies aren’t the same as slender. Large people in society sometimes take a psychological crushing because of their image. They’re at the wrong end of the shinning example. They’re less — or so the belief and the interaction sometimes goes.
A well body is a positive thing. A shapely body is a positive thing. But, difficult as it may be to do when dealing with so much imagery coming straight at us, each of us individually must put together our own principles when it comes to what’s a pleasing body look, and what is not pleasing. When we allow the media to establish these sorts of values for us, we fix ourselves into an exposed, and potentially harmful position.