Discussing obesity

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Psychology ・APA ・2 Sources

Obesity is a well-known concern in Western cultures such as North America and Western Europe. Most people in certain parts of the world desire to be leaner. This has resulted in widespread body dissatisfaction, particularly among young women and girls. Depression and low self-esteem have been linked to poor body image. Worse, the affected individuals develop eating problems as a result of their desire to achieve a specific body size and shape. The paper will evaluate one print advertising and one music video by commenting on the types of messages the print advertisement and music video are seeking to convey about eating and body image.The paper will also detail the relationship between eating disorders and western cultures.

Critique of the print ad

The print advertisement selected shows images of eight women with a photo caption that reads ""the perfect body."" Under that statement, we have another one that says perfect fit, perfect comfort and perfectly soft. There is something evidently common among all the eight women. They have slender body sizes with little clothing on. The print advertisement is attempting to demonstrate to the audience what the definition of a perfect body size implies. It drives the message home by displaying images of eight skinny and skimpily dressed young models. The print advertisement emphasizes the value and the importance of body image in the western culture, particularly among the women. It shows us that image is the most important element a woman can offer. The advertisement portrays slenderness as a sign of confidence and good health. It shows that women can only achieve comfort and perfection if they are slim and underweight. The message in the print advertisement is wrong and misleading. First, there is no real definition of a perfect body. Any body size is perfect provided a person is confident and proud in her skin. Women in the western culture are living in an era where there is an obsession with ultra-thin bodies. In this age, it is common to find images of extremely slender models when perusing through the pages of magazines. For instance, the print advertisement shows certain standard of a body, which women in western cultures have to live up to. The advertisement sets ridiculous standards for women in regards to body image. When women fail to measure up to these standards, they start developing a negative body image and poor self-perception. They also get themselves in unhealthy diet patterns and develop eating disorders.

Critique of the music video

The music video is about a song titled The Pussycat Dolls done by Snoop Dogg featuring Buttons. Just like the print advertisement, the music video portrays the same message that a woman’s mind and her values are less important than her body. It reinforces the importance of a woman’s body in the society. The video also objectifies women. Women are portrayed as sex objects dressed and dancing sexually. The video puts more focus on the body than other areas like the face or even personality. It depicts the body like it is disconnected from the mind. The women in the video just like in the print advertisement are mostly tall and slender. The video exposes thin young women performing in a sexually charged manner. The message in the music video is evident. It attempts to show that women can only be sexy if they are thin. Music has a significant influence on young peoples’ lives. Young people draw a lot of lessons from music videos on how to dress and how their bodies should be. In an effort to match the standards depicted in music, young people try to dress in a certain way. They also change their diets to keep their bodies thin. In most cases, they avoid high calorie foods that may make them gain weight. The change in eating patterns and diet is likely to lead to problems like eating disorders. The video gives a wrong impression of a woman’s body. Attempting to show that a woman can only be sexy if she is thin and dressed in a particular manner is wrong; it sets the wrong standards for the women and erodes their self-worth.


One of the major causes of eating disorders in the world is culture. The rate of eating disorders in the society varies depending on the culture in question. It has also been identified that eating disorders are more rampant in modern or contemporary cultures than the traditional cultural groups. Outside western cultures like Africa eating disorders are almost non-existent. In fact, in some of these cultures being fat and plumb in most cases is celebrated. Weight is often associated with high levels of fertility in women, social status, strength, and prosperity (Shuriquie, 1999).

We have had widespread cases of eating disorders in western cultures over the last few decades. The most common eating disorder in the western culture is anorexia nervosa. People who suffer from this form of eating disorder have a fear of gaining weight and an enormous determination to lose weight. Eating disorders in western cultures are majorly recorded among the women and less among the men. The high rate of eating disorders is associated with the higher levels of expectation in regards to beauty that is placed on women in western cultures. However, increased exposure to western media and expanding rates of globalization over the last couple of years has also increased the rates of eating disorders in non-western cultures.

There is a lot of pressure placed women in western countries to remain thin. This pressure comes from the media through advertisements that portray slender models as a classic definition of beauty. The idea of beauty in western cultures has changed over the years and slimness was not always perceived as attractive. In the 1950s, for instance, being plump and curvy was often attractive, and curvy women were often celebrated. However, that definition of beauty changed over the years. In western cultures today, beauty is portrayed in a different light. Women with thin bodies are considered more beautiful than their curvy counterparts. This modern conception of beauty in western cultures is always expressed in television commercials and advertisements. On average, a kid in a western country is exposed to over 30,000 television and print advertisements annually. These advertisements play an important role in shaping their definition and perception of beauty. Beautiful women in advertisements are often portrayed as thin and slender. Young women often get greatly influenced by what they view on television screens. They start internalizing what they see on screens and magazines, and their desire to imitate what they view becomes even stronger. The young women begin changing their diets and eating patterns to attain the desired body size and shape. Because what the western media portrays are often unrealistic and idealized, most of the people often get frustrated when they fail to reach their target. Some develop a negative self-image and develop eating disorders.

The western media have different aims. The major aims of the media are to inform, change, persuade and educate individuals. The society is shaped by what is depicted in the media. People believe that what is shown on screens or written in magazines is true. The media influence behavior and lifestyles. It dictates how people eat, dress and talk. When it comes to the body image, the western media is very important in shaping public opinion and influencing consumers’ belief. People believe in what they see in the media, whether it is right or wrong. The western media has been very critical in shaping people’s perception of beauty.

There is also a huge availability of high-calorie food in western cultures. As an outcome, people are growing fat each day and the gap between what is considered an ideal body and the undesired body is also growing. People in western cultures are thereby attempting to reduce their body weight to fit what the western society defines as the ideal body, and the best way is putting restrictions on their diet and altering their eating pattern (Shuriquie, 1999).

Eating disorders have a socio-cultural genesis. In fact, it is commonly perceived as a syndrome of the western culture. One of the major causes of eating disorders in the western cultures is the attitudes that people have towards obesity (Banles, 1992). Obesity in western cultures is often perceived with fear and skepticism. As a result, most people strive to shade weight and keep their bodies in shape for fear of victimization and stigmatization. The first strategy they adopt is altering their way of eating, including diet and the frequency of eating. Most of the people develop eating disorders in that process (Banles, 1992). There are also the high social standards that the western societies have placed on beauty and what beauty is. Most of the people, especially ladies are caught up in strive to become beautiful.

Western nations like the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have historically been criticized for the heavy emphasis they impose on having a small and fit physical appearance and the negative stereotypes they direct towards obesity. This obsession with small physiques has led widespread disaffection with body sizes and image among the female gender. However, there other major concerns associated with this obsession. Chief among them among them is the development of negative attitude towards food and widespread eating disorders among these societies. Socio-cultural expectations lead to unachievable standards of beauty creating pressure among the girls. Socio-cultural expectations exert a lot of pressure on young women by demanding them to conform to certain societal standards. In western cultures, there is a positive relation between beauty and slenderness. Beauty is viewed as a channel to happiness and freedom.

The obsession with thinness is universal. In fact, in nonwestern cultures there exists a positive relationship between growing fat and social status. Access to food in nonwestern cultures is often limited; fat people are therefore perceived to be rich and have more limitless access to food. Things seem to be different in western cultures where food is plentiful. Obese or overweight individuals are always considered lazy and careless (Shuriquie, 1999). There is a lot of social stigma against in western cultures. For example, they are easy targets for bullies in schools.

Eating disorders are more rampant in western, modern and industrialized nations of the world than other cultures in Africa or Asia. Even in western nations, the problem is more common among the upper social classes in the society. The western cultures place a lot of value on slimness. A slim appearance in western countries is seen as a sign of discipline, confidence, social acceptance, class, beauty, and sexual attractiveness. As an outcome of this, people in western societies are often obsessed with the idea of remaining thin. While slenderness is celebrated, obesity is viewed in an entirely different light. The societal perception of obesity is very negative.


Banles, C. G. (1992). Culture in Culture-Bound Syndromes: The Care of Anorexia Nervosa. Social Science & Medicine, 34(8), 867-884. Retrieved 28, Sept. 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/027795369290256P

Shuriquie, N. (1999). Eating disorders: a transcultural perspective. Retrieved 28, Sept. 2017, from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/118716/1/EMHJ_1999_5_2_354_360.pdf

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