Does Body Positivity in the Media Promote Obesity?

The chosen topic for discussion in this paper is body positivity and its relation to obesity. Body positivity refers to the idea that all individuals deserve to own a positive body image irrespective of how popular culture and society perceive ideal appearance, size and shape (Cwynar-Horta, 2016, p.398). The body positivity movement has goals that include assisting people in boosting their confidence and acknowledging their own bodies, encouraging the acceptance of all bodies, and combatting how society perceives the body and tackling unrealistic body standards. That said, body positivity is designed to challenge how society views individuals regarding their shape and physical size and promotes the acceptance that judgments are usually based on sexuality, gender, race, and disability. As a result, to comprehensively explore the effect of body positivity on obesity, the paper will look into the research question: does body positivity in the media actually promote obesity?

Read also Obesity from a Medical and Sociological Perspectives

            Various literature review pieces assert that one of the primary reasons for body positivity is to tackle some of the ways body image determines wellbeing and mental health. According to Cannaday (2019, 23), having a healthy body appearance serves a crucial role in influencing how individuals feel about their appearance and how they judge their self-worthiness. Cohen, Newton-John, and Slater (2020, 45) add that having a negative body image is connected with a rise in the danger of mental conditions such as eating disorders and depression.  Cohen, Newton-John, and Slater (2020, 30) found that even slight exposure to media contents showing an ideal physique was associated with increased body image concerns and a rise in eating disorder symptoms.

Read also Consequences of Obesity on the Health of Individuals

            According to Cannaday (2019, 33), body image is defined as an individual’s subjective perception regarding their own body, which may differ from their appearance. Behaviors, feelings, and thoughts linked to body image can significantly affect one’s mental health and how you treat yourself. A study by Cohen, Newton-John, and Slater (2020,37) found that body positivity movement contributes to the cases of obesity because normalization of plus size endangers hidden risks of obesity. Therefore, body positivity is sloppy science, sloppy journalism and sloppy peer review. This literature has informed me about body positivity as I have learned that people across the world, more so women been subjected to immense pressure over their bodies. For this reason, these advocates for a kinder perception have been embraced. But with increased popularity, there has emerged a barrage of criticism of body positivity, most notably for the normalization of obesity.

Read also Obesity – Annotated Bibliography

            The body positivity movement peddles the assertion that body elements that vary from the ones we think we possess lead to body dissatisfaction. We start to develop certain feelings concerning our body from the surrounding culture, life experiences, teasing, beliefs and the immediate people to us and the personality regarding how our body should look like. Consequentially, these behaviors perpetuate or even worsen the existence of such feelings and perceptions.

Read also An Evaluation of Issues Related to Childhood Obesity

Body image significantly affects the mental health of the target people. Having concerns related to body image is imperatively a shared experience. While it is not a mental health issue, it can be a risk factor for mental health challenges. According to research, higher body dissatisfaction is connected to a poorer quality of life, the risk of unhealthy eating traits, eating disorders and psychological distress (Cannaday, 2019,38). On the contrary, body appreciation and satisfaction have been connected to fewer harmful dieting traits and overall wellbeing. While the feelings of unsatisfied with our body appearance is a common problem among young women, body image issues happen from childhood all through their later life and severely affect both men and women. a positive body image contributes to promoting psychological adjustments such as less depression, positive self-worth, fewer eating disorders, life satisfaction, and less interpersonal anxiety. Distortions in individual thinking lead to a negative body image.

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