According to Countries of the World, a 2008 study indicated that 33% of the people in the United States of America suffered from obesity. Of course, this number has increased over the past seven years. This largely, of course, contributes to the the fact that the United States of America feeds its people unhealthy food at unhealthy restaurants for low prices and produce is difficult for middle class Americans to afford and nearly impossible for lower class Americans to even consider purchasing. But when many people, especially women, think of the word “fat”, they do not think of McDonald’s hamburgers and supersized meals being fed to impoverished children trying to make it to their next meal. Instead, they think of a larger inscribed woman with a thick red x across her body. It’s a symbol of what you don’t want to be if you plan to be pretty. But why is it like that?
Ideas of beauty change between cultures and different time periods. A woman in the United States who is considered fat today may be considered ugly. Conversely, years ago, when food was scarce, fat would have been a symbol of affluence and coveted by many. Being a size two only meant that you were too poor to purchase good food with fat on it’s bones. Currently, many developed countries are in a cultural place where it is ideal to be thin; it indicates that person has access to a gym and healthy food as well as time to exercise and money to purchase food that will not clog arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes 10 years down the road.
That said, many people in developed countries will associate being fat with being ugly simply because they believe, whether or not they are willing to admit it, that it is associated with some underlying indications of poverty or even sloth. Magazines indicate what people think, or at least what people want to read. After all, if no one wants to purchase a product, it eventually stops being sold. Therefore, when I’m flipping through a magazine while purchasing chapstick in Target, the reason why I see “How to lose 5 pounds in one week” is because someone, a lot of someones, wants to read that. They may even be taking the advice out of it, which is why copies continue to be sold and printed. So, it’s obvious why magazines continue to print and push ideas concerning weight loss. Because as a whole, some significant portion of society is buying in, literally.
But how do we get them to stop is the real question? No woman who is more than a size six wants to keep going into stores seeing only clothes made for women who barely have any meat on their bones. No one wants to keep reading about weight loss after a doctor tells them that they could lose a few pounds if they wanted to, but if they didn’t, they’re at a healthy weight. The answer is to stop treating “fat” like it’s a bad word. Fat reduces to nothing more than nonpolar molecules strung together in a person’s body. And fat can be extremely good. Brain matter is primarily composed of fat indicating that losing too much weight will lead to a literal decrease in brain function. Fat also acts as padding for joints and keeps you warm. Fat will also readily store energy, so that if a person is unable to eat for a few days, or not eat enough, like many college aged women will simply because they are so busy, they won’t die. What boils down to fat is what keeps cells in our bodies from swelling and then lysing because it does not allow all of the water you taken in to find its way into your cells and disrupting the biological gradient created. Fat alone is not bad. Fat in excess becomes bad just like excess water, protein, or fat soluble vitamins will. Without fat, no one could exist. To stop seeing magazines fat shame women, stop making it okay. It is easier to buy the Seventeen Magazine and read it and look disgusted than simply deciding not to buy that product. But if every woman decided that she would not allow a magazine to render her false information, causing young women to spiral into a horrible depression over such a trivial matter of body weight, I’m sure that that would not be published.
Obesity is bad. It is linked to several life threatening diseases. But fat is not, and probably has never been synonymous to obesity. It loosely refers to any person, especially a woman, whose weight is over that which is socially desirable. The socially desirable standards of being 105 pounds is unhealthy for most people and we should stop following it not only because it is wrong, but because it is unhealthy and insanely unreasonable. Each of us has the capacity to change our world and our societies by not accepting what it throws at us. If you don’t want to keep seeing things, stop accepting it.