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29 March 2005
Obesity and Self-Esteem
Today obesity is talked about as a major physical health problem. It can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, immobilization, and many other problems. However many articles fail to mention what is one of the most important and most destructive problems. This is the effect of obesity on one's mental health and wellbeing. Being excessively overweight usually instills in it's victims a sense of self worthlessness and gives them a very negative self-image. This can lead to an array of problems that affect the person in a way that is much more direct and difficult to deal with than physical problems. While the problem is known to affect men, it strikes women much more often. The models and celebrities in the media that set the standard for what women should look like are thinner than 90-95 percent of the American female population (Seid p.6). This is an unrealistic portrayal of what the human body should look like when compared to most women's genetic makeup. Women's self-image, their social and economic success, and even their survival can still be determined largely by their beauty (Seid p.5). Men on the other hand seem to have it a little easier when it comes to looks. Their self-image is largely determined by what they accomplish in life and not by whether or not they meet the social standard for looks. Modern clothing and fashion require women to show off their bodies more in tight clothes and by showing more skin than in the past. According to Roberta Seid women's bodies which never used to be exposed to the public, are now essentially nude with a small layer of fabric dividing them from the world. Also, she states that more importance has now been placed on how women's bodies look in the nude because of fashion magazines and commercial images instead of how women look under layers of body enhancing clothing (p.6)....
Cited: Gawande, Atul. "The Man Who Couldn 't Stop Eating." New Yorker 9 July 2001.
Koplan, Jeffrey P., MD, MPH, and William H. Dietz, MD, PhD. "Caloric Imbalance and Public Health Policy." Journal of the American Medical Association (1999).
Schwartz, Hillel. "Fat and Happy?" Never Satisfied. Free Press, 1986.
Seid, Roberta. ""Close to the Bone": The Historical for Women 's Obsession with Slenderness." The Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society. 1994.
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