I just watched a video which described a bride who went on feeding tubes to lose weight for her wedding day, titled: Feeding Tubes for Brides-to-Be: Extreme Weight Loss Tactics to Ready for the Dress on Wedding Day
My initial reaction: “What the hell? What’s wrong with this country? Why is this remotely acceptable?”
At a certain point you have to question the value these people are placing on such a superficial ideal, whether that value is reasonable, and what lengths these people will go to to achieve that value. It’s disturbing to observe the torture people will put themselves through to attain a standard of superficial appearances. And it’s probably less about the individual’s problem and more about broader problems with our cultural values that place such a high premium on the judgments of others regarding superficial worth.
Is this problematic? This isn’t an isolated incident of someone wanting to look pretty or “picture perfect” on their wedding day. It’s a cultural-bound syndrome resulting from ideals that prioritize appearances over character, over who people are and what they value. Nowhere else in the world do you find the prevalence of body image disorders than in western societies, and as our ideals spread so too do the disorders. Given our nationally obsession with body image and the pervasiveness of eating disorders among women, I’m not convinced that any profit generating ploy like hCG is carefully monitored for only the extreme cases. This is aside from the fact that hCG injections have been shown to be totally ineffective and inefficacious, that any weight loss is merely due to the restricted 500 calorie diet: so what’s the medical motivation? There is none. Like most weight loss fads that capitalize on physical insecurities, hCG is purely profit motivated.
Also, picture perfect? What’s perfect? Who says? Culture? Media? Why should we absorb ourselves with these ideals, someone else’s ideals? Don’t they rob the humanity from people and reduce them to ornamental shells? I’m arguing that cultures very idea of “attractive” is misguided, that it overlooks who a person is in favor of what they appear to be. Placing so much emphasis on something so contingent, so temporal and fleeting and uncontrollable as physical appearances is bound to produce a neurosis and wreck self image. Look at celebrities who struggle with preserving their looks, who spiral out of control with disfiguring surgeries when youth begins fading and age takes hold. Do they totally love the subjective value within themselves? Or do they love the value derived from the fickle opinions of mass judgment? It’s sad.
And feeling like a woman? What is a woman suppose to look like, or feel like, anyway? I know plenty of women who value themselves and are secure with their gender and aren’t preoccupied with looking any way but themselves. Maybe not as many as I’d like to meet, but they’re out there. But it’s not just starving, it’s overeating too. If we prioritize appearances, and value the judgments of others regarding our appearances that aren’t up to their standards, that’s gonna stress you out and, as you mentioned, increase cortisol levels and the propensity for fat deposition. For someone who suffers with body image, obesity is an ongoing, self-perpetuating phenomenon.
What if being attractive meant prioritizing our own opinions regarding our value? What if character included healthy lifestyle habits? What if people practiced what MLK advocated, and instead of looking at yourself as inferior, you saw yourself as equal, not because of what you looked like, but because of who you are? We need to stop judging ourselves if we wanna stop judging others, and start loving ourselves so that we can love others.
Annnd… that’s all I got. I’m done proselytizing. I just want people to be happy with themselves, for themselves.