It is no secret that one of the most pressing issues in the United States is the obesity problem. The food we eat and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles have caused us to pack on the pounds, and the obesity rate is through the roof. For a long while, the hype surrounding obesity focused on ways to help the obese population to slim down. However, the constant media-preaching of obesity as a negative and skinniness as a positive led to all sorts of self-esteem problems, and eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia skyrocketed. Recently, though, there has been an influx in positive self-image messages from the media, popping up through groups in social media sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. While the intent behind these groups is noble, are they sending the wrong messages? Loving your body is a one thing, but when your body is unhealthy, is “embracing” your obesity just an excuse not to do anything about it?
“Fat Camaraderie.” This phrase, taken from this YouTube video comes from one of the contributors to the group ProjectLifeSize – a group of average to overweight girls making videos about their daily weight musings. The idea behind the group is nice; a place for people to share similar experiences with an audience. Because there is still a lot of fat-hate in the media and society, an outlet in which these girls can share their feelings about the stigmas against them is great. However, in many of these videos, very little is said about the health problems related to being overweight, and even less is mentioned about attempts to live healthier lifestyles. Several of the comments on these videos are from people who are self-described “happy fat girls.” Is this banding together sending the wrong signals?
Accommodate the Overweight? There has been a huge debate recently over whether or not obese passengers should be forced to pay for two seats on an airplane. Each side of the debate has a legitimate argument. Many overweight travelers complain that this is unfair; that they are only one person and therefore should only pay for one seat. However, the other half of the debate is from those who would be sitting next to these overweight passengers: “If they’re taking up half of my seat, they should have to pay for it!” This article stating that these obese passengers should be accommodated, and that they shouldn’t have to pay extra for it actually compares obesity to having a physical handicap requiring a wheelchair – something I found to be way over the top! In actuality, over the past 10 years there have been shocking changes made to public areas to accommodate obesity. For example, seats in movie theaters have increased in size over the years, and so have public bathroom stalls. One may argue that accommodating these lifestyles is encouraging them to continue.
Will media and society be able to find a happy medium between the positive and negative messages about weight? Obesity is an issue that is not going away any time soon. It is important to feel comfortable in your own skin, but also so much more important to be healthy in your own skin.