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The Image Of Body Weight

By Scotch Q. Ennis

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.

Matters have definitely changed.

Excess body heft, especially in Western nations, not only isn’t seen in a favorable light any more, there’s now a broad negative stigma connected to overweight. This stigma is demonstrated in the fact that, in most Western nations, food is abundant and easily found (though not always acquired easily, depending on one’s current existence). But food abundance isn’t the only answer for a turnabout in beliefs about body fat. Two other circumstances also offer understanding: it’s now well known that excess body heft is damaging; and the mass media regularly exhibits imagery of slender 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.

Generally speaking, the media’s portrayal of the thin, sculpted body type is used for commercial purposes. The media wants to present a desirable image and attach a product to it. They want to sell, and they’re using body type to do it.

But problems can occur when people attempt to emulate the “perfect” body type they see in the media. Eating disorders are a possible outcome. The widespread nature of eating disorders within Western culture is certainly related to extensive media imagery of thinness, and the inference that a thin body is particularly desirable.

There is also the emotional pain and suffering suffered by those whose body type is in contrast to slender. Overweight people can take a psychological pounding because of their appearance. They’re at the opposite end of the ideal. They’re inferior — or so the thinking and the treatment sometimes goes.

A healthy body is a good thing. A fit body is a good thing. But, though it may be difficult to do in the face of so much feedback, each of us must develop our own value system as to what’s a desirable body type, and what is not. If we let the media create this value system for us, we put ourselves in a vulnerable, and potentially damaging position.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Ennis, Scotch Q. "The Image Of Body Weight." The Image Of Body Weight. 28 Jan. 2010. 17 Jul 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Ennis, S (2010, January 28). The Image Of Body Weight. Retrieved July 17, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Ennis, Scotch Q. "The Image Of Body Weight"

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