A guest blog artcle by Kristen Kuzanek (world citizen, student)
As someone who has struggled with their weight for the better part of my life, it is appalling the way society views those who do not have the ideal body image, whatever that is. I am not alone in this struggle; I know many other people feel the same way.
There are five ways in which women can be viewed: too thin or sick looking (possibly suffering from an eating disorder), the ideal body image, average, a few extra pounds, and obese. Clearly if you do not have the ideal body image there is an issue since there are four categories other than ideal.
Society has this mindset that girls should be a size zero, no thanks to the media. Starting at a young age, characters on television shows (cartoons included) are thin and beautiful women. Rarely, if ever, do we see heavier characters on shows, commercials, magazines, etc. Society has set the norm for women to be thin; if you are not thin you are a deviant in society. It is almost like saying if you have a few extra pounds on you then you do not meet the norms of society. This has been portrayed in almost every aspect of media out there today. We see all the time on magazine covers celebrities being criticized for gaining or losing weight even in the smallest increments. For example, a “Dancing with the Stars” professional dancer was recently criticized because it looked as though she gained five pounds. People were saying she should not be wearing provocative outfits with the weight she gained.
GIVE ME A BREAK!
There is no doubt that there are individuals in society who are overweight and obese; we see all the time the United States being criticized due to the weight epidemic here. What people fail to realize is that some people are not overweight or obese due to their own actions. This is not to say that there are some who do put themselves in this unfortunate circumstance on their own, but that is not the point. Some individuals who have medical conditions that send their weight soaring.
It cannot always be controlled.
Because of the way women are supposed to look, we rarely see bigger characters on television or in magazines; And often when we do they are being harassed for their weight. For example, there is a television show called “Mike and Molly” where both main characters are overweight. When the show first came out it drew much attention, not because of the show itself, but the characters on the show. People would make comments like “who wants to see two fat people being romantic on TV,” “it is disgusting that these two fat people are allowed to have their own show,” etc. Some people are just ignorant and then there is the mindset that society has placed.
It is impossible to say that we are accepting of one another – clearly we are not. Society is ignorant to the fact that everyone has physical differences. Just because someone does not have the “ideal” body image, it does not mean that they should be treated any different.
They are just as human as the next person.
Society has this unfortunate habit of creating these ‘norms’ for society that tend to hurt more than help. As W.I. Thomas wrote “if people define a situation as real then it is real, in its consequences” (Ward 2011). Society has created the situation that women should be thin with the ideal body image as the only reality, but what they have failed to realize is that there are many consequences that come with it. Some girls strive to be that ideal weight by any means possible – typically eating disorders come into play. Then there are those girls who are tormented their entire life. They feel as though they do not belong and may take their own life.
The issue of weight is no doubt a problem in America, but yearning to be a size zero is … a bit drastic! If a woman is fine with her body image, then who are we as a society to tell them otherwise? Each and every person has a different way of living their life and that is how it should be.
Society should not be the one setting rules to living life.
I have come to realize that my body structure will never get me down to a size zero. I would not even want to get that thin because that is not who I am. I am fortunate in the fact that I have not been tormented due to my weight. I have awesome friends and family who accept me the way I am for who I am, not what I look like or should look like. I wish that society would take on the same mentality and let women live peacefully the way they want to. The United States is after all a very diverse and unique nation, with many different people and physical differences.
All of the above is a part of what makes us who we are. That is how we should define ourselves – as unique members of a diverse nation!
Ward, Elijah. 2011. W.I. Thomas Theorem quote given during a lecture on Race. August 23, 2011