The media has pushed upon the general public that the thinner you are, the more attractive you are. All manner of media outlets have given people the impression that being larger than a size 0 is a bad thing because it makes you fat, even though realistically, your appearance is a little too similar to that of malnourished African children. We have become trained to see the waif-like figures of fashion models to be the ideal in feminine physical beauty, even though such a form may not really have any benefits in a strictly biological sense. This has had the effect of creating the weight loss pill industry, as well as giving it the backbone it needs to be a feasible avenue of business for pharmaceutical companies eager to make a quick buck or two. However, is being thin really all that the media makes it out to be?
Perhaps the primary concern would be the impact what effect taking a weight loss pill might have on the system. By their very nature, the pills are designed to help a person lose excess weight, typically by burning stored fat or increasing the metabolic rate. However, as testing has shown, a number of the more effective forms of weight loss pill formulas can have terrible side effects on the body. Reports can vary, though some of the more common ones are nausea and occasional cases of vomiting. In some countries, where the standards are a little lax, these pills find a massive market despite the lack of testing on just what potential side effects it might have. Aside from that, a weight loss pill can easily be overdosed by people who are overzealous about losing weight, leading to potentially life-threatening situations.
However, aside from the weight loss pill boom, the media’s effort to push people to become thinner has resulted in psychological damage. Even without the media at work, there will always be a segment of the population that would experience social anxiety because of their weight. Due to the emphasis on physical achievement and perfection among students, high school students typically, those who have more weight than the average student often end up being socially scorned. Large-built students who cannot find ways to compensate for their weight through activities such as sports often find themselves socially ostracized by their peers. After all, the media pushes the message “nobody wants to hang out with fat kids” rather strongly. Now, combine that with exposure to mass media, which pushes people to subconsciously dislike being “fat,” and the social anxiety simply gets worse. There are several studies behind the effects and the treatments for bulimia and anorexia, but very few have tackled the psychological issues and the social anxiety behind these eating disorders.
Finally, perhaps the worst effect the media “push” has had is the prevalent obsession with losing weight, even for those who don’t need to lose weight. The media has made people consciously relate extremely thin, waif-like figures to beauty. This has had the effect of women adopting all manner of fad diets, weight loss programs, and extreme treatments to attain that “perfect” size 0. This is a far cry from the pre-Raphaelite standard, where a full figure was considered the ideal and a little meat on the bones was not necessarily a bad thing. While the public obsession with health stems from this need to get thinner, the fact that some people are stretching the limits on how thin the human body can get while still remaining healthy is not a good sign.
It is interesting to note that men seem less affected by this than women. There are several possible explanations for this, though there is a distinct lack of overly-idealized male figures in the media, as compared to the female ones. According to some studies, it is generally harder to determine an “ideal” for the male figure, apart from one that appears capable of performing the tasks subconsciously associated with the male gender, than it is for females. There are several likely sociological and evolutionary reasons for this sort of discrimination, but the number of men experiencing the same social pressures as women is increasing.