By: Nikki Nies
Depending on one’s cultural and personal views, the perception of what’s healthy and attractive can or can not be synonymous. By medical standards, many Americans meet the criteria of overweight to obese. Yet, critics of the BMI measurement state it is not always an accurate measurement of healthy and/or attractiveness.
A lot of critics suggest the lack of adequate nutrition in the Western diet has led to the current obesity epidemic, yet it seems some people are comfortable or sometimes prefer extra cushion or being “thick.”
A healthy lifestyle is subjective, but a standard measurement is how one’s lifestyle is linked to overall nutrition, obesity, physical activity and one’s risk for chronic diseases–heart disease, diabetes and cancer. When looking at lifestyles, one’s cultural specificities of how food and fat operate in body according to class, gender and ethnicity, need to be evaluated as well. A study led by Lovejoy et al., 2001, found Black women tend to be more satisfied with their weight, size and appearance than their white counterparts. A possible explanation for this difference may be the “afrocentric aesthetic”, which may allow blacks to resist mainstream beauty and that black men prefer larger women than white.
Healthy eating has been criticized due to the limiting consideration of food practices and has negatively played a role in the addition of dieting.I’m not sure when the loathing of fat was introduced in American society, but it has had a double edged sword. Being healthy promotes a healthy weight, but often times it’s mistaken as an attractive weight, yet healthy and attractive weight are not always the same thing.
With the cultural pressure to meet and remain a smaller size, it has led to body distortion, eating disorders and/or poor body image and self esteem.
Modern media has dictated what an attractive weight is, which isn’t always realistic. “Penalities”for being overweight or obese is less severe for black women than white. While a person’s weight is part of the assessment of one’s physical appearance, it’s unfortunate that in our society so much emphasis and acknowledgement of weight is part of mainstream news and attention. Physical attractiveness has been noted to help one’s prospects in the labor markets, in romantic relationships and throughout various face to face social interactions.
Although discrimination against weight can’t always be proved, it’s been widely scrutinized as responsible for social exclusion, public ridicule and the development of depression and/or isolation.
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