Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Weight, Appearance, and Shame

Recently I've been thinking about how as a society we are so hard on one another, particularly about things like appearance - especially related to weight. What prompted this? Celebrities.

Many companies use celebrity endorsements for their ads. This includes popular weight loss programs. I'm not criticizing these programs; I've tried some and had success in the past. They just were not long-lasting for me. Some people do really well with them.

I can't forget to mention the celebrity endorsements for things like pills and diets. These are generally not something I support....Especially pills. There is no quick-fix for weight loss and many of the products that boast fast, easy weight-loss are unhealthy.

I do partake in some celebrity endorsed products. I am a big fan of Jillian Michaels. I think I have purchased all but one of her DVDs....That one will come when I finish the current. I don't buy them because Jillian is on the cover. I buy them because I like them. I tried one back when there was a lot of hype around it, I liked it, and I've continued to buy them. I like how she focuses on circuit training. Technically this qualifies as cardio, however, many of the moves are strength-training moves. These workouts make me feel sore, sweaty, like I'm weak, and a huge sense of accomplishment when I'm done. The bottom line? Her workouts make me feel amazing.

Anyway, back to what I was originally discussing... Celebrities and weight. I like that celebrities endorse healthy methods for losing weight. Thank you!!

What I don't like is that the media goes wild with this stuff. On (possibly) overweight celebrities...First they are too heavy. But at the same time that they're criticized for their weight, they're also praised for it. Often times though, they lose weight (for whatever reason). Then the media praises them again. Sometimes though, the media speculates that they've lost too much weight. Then of course the underweight celebs have to have their share of being attacked.

Why is this something that we are so interested in?

I feel that if no one gave it a second thought, the media wouldn't be as obsessed with how much, or how little, celebs weight. Or what they look like. Naturally in media-land weight impacts on level of attractiveness. however, we crave this kind of thing, so the media continues to please us.

Weight, in general, is for some reason a big deal. Why should it matter to you what I weigh? Why should it matter to me what so-and-so from work weighs? It shouldn't matter, but it does. There are times when it is appropriate (like when it's your job to encourage someone to be healthy, or be concerned about their health), but for the average person it's inappropriate. I'm not your doctor (pretty much the only person in your life that I can think of who should comment on weight without being invited to do so). I'm not your nutritionist. I'm not your trainer. I have no business knowing what you weigh...Unless you invite me into that part of your life.

BUT...If I'm thinner than you, I'm better than you...Right?

WRONG. That's what many people tend to think. We use things like appearance as a means of being "better than" others. This isn't true. However, your health might be better than mine if you're 20 pounds less than my current weight and you're my height (says the BMI calculator). Is it about health though? Probably not. It's about how we look, where we shop, what we can do, and how others judge our level of attractiveness.

FYI: Not all thin people are "hot." I've seen several that I do not find attractive. That's another thing... Attractiveness varies.

Also? We're nosey. That's what it comes down to. We all have to know what's going on with everyone else. We gossip. Weight is something that people gossip about because it's generally not something that's common knowledge. Once you make it available to the public, people are less interested.

This brings me to my next point. Most people are sensitive and secretive about their weight. This includes celebrities. They will defend their weight and talk about it in general, but how often do they reveal their weight? How 'bout their clothing size? This is a rare occurrence.

It's none of anyone else's business, that's true. However, if we were less insecure about it and shared it more openly, that would make it much less interesting to others. Here is where celebrities could have a huge impact on society. If they were to share their weight and size people would become less interested. Sure, at first, it'll be a frenzy; possibly a huge "shocker" because it's so rarely discussed. After a while though, if it becomes more common, people probably won't care as much. But, we are private people in some ways.

I will admit that I'm as guilty as anyone else when it comes to weight and size of celebs. I've been guilty of Googling this information. This is not because I want to write an article condemning someone for being too fat or too thin. This is because I have an ideal shape and size in mind. Bodies are different but in general knowing the range of someone who is a similar height, build, and age can give us an idea of what we might look like at a similar size. There are online programs that generate little avatars of what we might look like. Looking at a real human doesn't seem that much different to me. Knowing how much so-and-so weighs or what size she wears would help motivate and inspire me. Instead, I have to look at people and guess, which is often totally inaccurate.

I'm sure that the differing opinion is that weight is a private thing. I addressed that...It's only super private because we make it that weight. I'm also sure that some might say that by knowing the height, weight, sizes, and measurements of celebrities may cause us to strive for goals that may not be attainable for us. Knowing this information might cause things like eating disorders to spiral. The thing is, society is generally not the only factor that contributes to ED. In some cases it has involvement but in many (most?) cases it is about so much more; often it doesn't even start out being about appearance. I do believe though that societal pressures and stress can contribute to feelings and thoughts that may lead to ED. It all depends on the person. Seeing Super Skinny Celeb A. on TV last night didn't make me anorexic today.

It's not secret that the media has put a huge spotlight on weight. Weight affects our appearance and level of attractiveness. If we don't feel that we look like society feels we should, we might feel shame. If we were all a little more open about these things, it just might help us to better accept one another.


No comments:

Post a Comment