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.
Circumstances have assuredly changed.
Excess body mass, especially in Western societies, is not viewed as favorable any longer; to the contrary, there's now a considerable negative perception attached to excess weight. This negative perception has been established, at least in part, by the reality of food ampleness in Western countries. When everyone can eat, eating plentifully doesn't carry much significance. But food ampleness isn't the only basis for new perceptions about over weight. Two other scenarios also provide insight: it's now widely understood that excess body mass is detrimental; and the media often shows imagery of slim 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 an effort to suggest the media is pushing visuals as a means of poisoning society's values. We must all accept that we are responsible for that which we believe, and how we respond to our values. Still, it's illusion to argue that the media's wide reach doesn't impact belief.
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.
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 thriving body is a desirable thing. A conditioned body is a desirable thing. But, while it may be formidable to do having to cope with such pervasive feedback, each one of us must build our own morals as to what's an alluring type of body, and what isn't. If we sit back and allow the media to develop this belief system on our behalf, we place ourselves in a compromising, and potentially dangerous position.
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