Today I found out that the Univeristy of Sydney does an annual nude calendar. It’s specifically the veterinary students, both male and female, posing with their future clients: horses, cows, etc.
Today I also saw this post about an obese woman capturing people’s negative reactions to her body as they walk by her.
Body image debates happen everyday and today I’ve been battling-it-out in my head and decided to write it down.
Overweight People, Dollars, and Morals
Advertisements generally show attractive people. For example, in the University of Sydney calendar there are some people with curves but no one is fat. Should there be some fat people?
Australia has a high percentage of overweight citizens, so I assume some fat students were left out. It’s important to ask if it’s wrong to exclude overweight people because nudity is now less taboo and more normal, so we’ll be seeing more of it in ads and movies. Do we want to be campaigning for more fat, nude bodies?
I like celebrating diversity in body types to at least some degree. For instance, I recently came across this post sharing amazing photos of Olympian’s bodies. The pictures capture many woman who lack the big ass, big breasts, or petite model figure we usually see in ads. I like that kind of diversity.
Viewing those photos made me realize where I draw the line: health. Show me thin, show me curves, show me lean and mean, but don’t show me fat. Being overweight is nothing to be proud of. It’s unattractive, unhealthy, and not something people should ever strive to be.
The reason that ad dollars go towards hiring healthy models is because they are attractive and therefore attract attention. Maybe consumers like healthy bodies because of evolution and what a thin body said about the likelihood of survival and offspring that could also fight and survive.
Or, maybe our desire for healthy bodies is from our culture and generation after generation of brain washing. Regardless, does it matter? Even if it is cultural, it still seems moral. The incentives should align to encourage people to treat their bodies well.
Recently France banned models who were so thin that they were unhealthy. That would have been a smart action if they’d also banned models who were so overweight that it was unhealthy. However, they only banned thin models. That’s odd because far more French people die from being overweight than underweight.
I’m Not a Doctor But…
Some people, including doctors, argue that obesity is a disease. As idiotic as it feels to say that I know better than doctors, I just don’t believe disease is at the root of the cause. Maybe, after eating unhealthily for prolonged periods, the human body can develop a disease. Maybe that disease is passed on genetically. I can believe that.
What I cannot believe is that responsible adults become fat without overeating or being stagnant. And what I definitely cannot believe is that even if you are genetically “big boned” and thicker, that you can’t be fit. Take Amanda Bingson as an example. She’s an Olympian who is both larger than average and still fit:
I’ve worked with a few people who were overweight and deflected guilt and they didn’t eat well or exercise. I hope that the thyroid excuse will turn out to be a fad. It is difficult to believe that…
- If two parents eat healthily
- Then have a baby who they feed healthy food
- Then live an active lifestyle with that baby
that there’s some chance that that baby will turn out to magically be 300 pounds when he/she grows up. Big bodies are built from calories and water. Muscles come from working out a few times a week. Calories are burnt through exercise. Physics isn’t magic.
Some people think that excluding fat people from ads is a type of “body shaming”. If it is, I think I’m okay with it. Being overweight is a Western privilege and it doesn’t show up in starving African villages or villages living off rice in Asia.
If some people have a medical problem which makes staying fit difficult, fine. That’s not a reason to stick those people on magazine covers though. Most people on Earth have the means to be fit. These Olympians are in peak shape in spite of the challenges they faced:
This is part of the dark cloud in my life or, more accurately, the “politically correct” bullshit filling my ears. I want to fill my life will people who don’t look for excuses, even when good ones are available. I want to come from a nation of citizens who overcome challenge instead of choosing failure and citing a challenge to deflect blame. I want overweight people to say five words “I’m not trying hard enough”.