The UK is Dealing With Body Image Issues in a Guide for Parents. Shouldn't We?
America's obesity problem is now being tackled by the federal government's anti-obesity initiative spearheaded in collaborative efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, as well as the non-profit Institute of Medicine. The anti-obesity movement was recently launched to coincide with the showing of the highly publicized HBO program Weight of a Nation.
With all of this hype, the message has been clear about FAT CRIME. Fat is bad, bad, bad. Yet, the anti-obesity campaign's diet and nutrition program suggests little innovation since Dr. Spock's protocols about the risks of fat kids in the 1950s and President Kennedy's fitness initiative in the early 1960s. After all this thrust toward being slim and healthy, since the 1950s American obesity has increased exponentially. Indeed there has been a general misdirection by the anti-obesity campaign about what Americans should eat, and about the contribution of the industrial food complex to the obesity crisis. A further problem is that the anti-obesity initiative may be reinforcing the sub rosa concept that thin is superlative, fat is bad and the body images related to overweight are horrific. We don't know for sure that this concept has not contributed to the rise in obesity along with other variables. But we do know that It is a concept which has exacerbated severe eating disorders.
For all its good intentions, an indirect outcome of the anti-obesity initiative will be to continue to promote the worst folkway that females in this country and many developed countries have to face: the ethic of "You can't be too rich or too thin." Slender, stick-insect women plaster magazine covers. Thin women people film casts. Slim women are the heroines of books (Check out the most popular romantic fiction book covers; I've yet to see a plump/fat beauty.) Anorexics in the fashion industry have perished just living on diet soda and lettuce leaves. Other fashion models have maintained their vital underweight BMI of 16 (normal low BMI is 18.5) to keep looking bone sleek for their next job. Celebrities have admitted to their being anorexics (Christina Ricci) or bulimics: (Jane Fonda outed herself in her autobiography).
The anti-obesity campaigners have not dealt with this. They should. There is one coin of weight obsession: on one side is obesity, on the other, anorexia and bulimia. In its obsession to deal with the obesity epidemic, the government has shuttered its focus on the growing rates of anorexia, bulimia and self-abuse which sometimes rides with those eating disorders. It has overlooked the #thinspiration movement on social media sites, which sometimes is a cover for anorexia and bulimia. It has not even fathomed that women past the age of 50 and even up to age 75 face eating disorders and body image issues. Let's face it! In this country, SKINNY IS SACROSANCT. No American woman wants to be seen as not appearing thin. And most are not happy with their body image if they aren't "thin."Continued on the next page