Body Image & Fat Issues
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In 1978, Fat Is A Feminist Issue, Susie Orbach’s seminal book on body image, exposed the moral bankruptcy of an image-mad, slim-crazy culture. Some 25 years later, the number of young people with eating disorders is rising and body weight issues must be seen against a background of rising obesity.
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Also, the growing number of body-conscious men means fat is no longer just a feminist issue – it affects everyone, such as the parents of those boys who now account for 20% of adolescents suffering eating disorders. Furthermore, despite our preoccupation with weight-loss, the population has actually grown fatter. Much fatter. In two decades the average British man has gained eight kilos, while his female counterpart has put on six and a half. One in five British adults is clinically obese and, if trends continue, a quarter of the population will be that way by 2010.
Last week health experts warned that the obesity pandemic represents the biggest challenge in humanity’s evolutionary history. Already there are people whose worlds have been reduced to the size of their dingy bedrooms because standard NHS wheelchairs won’t support their weight. A feminist issue? Fat is a medical emergency.
Body Image & Fat Issue
So where does that leave the body-image agenda, which has focused for 25 years on slating the ‘culture of thinness’ promoted by the media and has called instead for ‘realistic’ role models ? At a time when obesity poses a grave threat to children’s health, shouldn’t we be changing the record? Sad though it is that two-thirds of British women dislike their bodies and that almost half are on diets, the truth is that nearly half of us are officially overweight. Perhaps we are right to be dissatisfied with our unhealthy bodies. Maybe it is time to think the unthinkable and admit that, actually, we could do with losing a few pounds.
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