America is obsessed with thinness. It's seems more like a running joke when contrasted with the fact that two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. Much of this is fueled by the media which sets the standard for beauty i.e. super thin women are sexy and heavy set women are unattractive. Society also pressures women to be skinny, and heavy set people are often the target of cruel jokes and ridicule. Heavy set people are labeled as ugly, stupid, lazy, etc. No one wants to be called such names. That's why millions of women try to emulate the ultra-thin look of some runway models.
But on the other side are overweight and obese women who seem terribly hostile to any woman who is smaller than their size. And men are to blame, too. Most of us are turned off by super thin or heavy women. I admit that I'm more attracted to women who are fit and toned than to heavy set women. We all have our own definition of beauty, but when does it cross the line to something else?
Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
People come in all shapes and sizes. It's dangerous to make everyone conform to a certain standard, it destroys individuality and pressures people into doing things that are altogether unsafe or impossible. Yet society has been doing just that for a very long time. Centuries ago rotund people were considered attractive because it symbolized intellect and wealth. Average weight and thin people were seen as lazy underachievers.
Over time, attitudes changed and thinness became the standard. It's interesting because physical fitness seemed to be completely ignored. Modeling agencies preferred very tall women with unhealthily low body fat. For some reason this was considered attractive in spite of the fact that women by nature require a certain percentage of body fat if they are to remain healthy. And by nature men are more attracted to women with feminine body than a women who lack curves. (Just as women are more attracted to men who are toned and muscular as opposed to heavy set or thin.)
The Pitfalls Of Trying to Live Up to Other People's Standards
The problem with this is that women began to starve themselves to achieve the super thin model look. Magazines featured emaciated looking women in miniskirts and bikinis surrounded by men who seemed to really want them. This was social proof that women felt the need to emulate.
The fastest way to get thin is to stop eating. Grapefruit diets, cabbage diets, water pills, laxatives, etc. are what a lot of desperate women turned to hoping that somehow it would make them as desirable and sexy as the model on the magazine cover. But that type of weight loss was unhealthy and unsustainable. For some women, it was seen as a terrible failure on their part. With their self-esteem tanked, they developed a hatred for food causing them to develop eating disorders e.g. binge and purge or total starvation.
It is a problem that continues to this day. Some of women will spend hours at the gym doing cardio hoping to burn away the fat, but neglecting to eat healthy foods. As with those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia, these women became physically and mentally sick. In their eyes they were ugly and that was all they could see.
But Is It Okay To Be Heavy?
The mission of this website is to encourage people to lead a healthy lifestyle. From a scientific standpoint overweight and obesity are unhealthy. Too many studies point to the dangers associated with excess weight. We should strive to be as healthy as possible and that includes maintaining a healthy weight.
In my opinion, instead of defining healthy weight in terms of clothing manufacturers' labels, or the people who appear on celebrity and reality TV shows or even the body mass index (BMI), we should stick to the body-fat percentage range that the American Council on Exercise (ACES) recommends.
When you look at the ACES percentage body fat norm for men and women, it's obvious that women naturally deposit more body fat than men. That's because fat is crucial to life sustaining functions.
Having too little fat is just as unhealthy as storing too much of it. The reason why I don't like the BMI standard is that some people have more bone density than others thus they might be categorized as heavy when they're in fact in good shape. And it fails to distinguish between lean body mass and fat mass. So the body fat percentage is much more reliable in my opinion.
Women are not going to look the same. Sandra Bullock, Catherine Zeta Jones,Tyra Banks, Crystal Renn, Kelly Hu, Eva Longoria and Katy Perry all have different physiques than Xin Cao Li, Timea Majorova and Rima Fakih but none of these women is any less attractive than the others.
Depending on genetics and other factors, women of healthy weight are going to distribute fat differently which may create the impression that some are heavier or thinner than others even if they happen to be the same weight. That's something people should always keep in mind.
Why does society label people as too fat or too skinny? Shouldn't the focus be on health instead of what the media says? Aside from the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight, why is it anyone's business anyway?
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American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org/calculators/bodyfat-calculator.aspx
"Pressure To Be Thin Or Heavy - Is It Anyone's Business?" copyright 2011 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.