Friday, December 16, 2011

W50, Day 4: In the media

Okay, I take offense with the way media sources like the news on t.v. and the internet and movies often portray overweight and obese people.  I've come across the same picture used in two different articles and it's included in the slideshow link I've listed below.  The picture is the front of a fully naked woman (from the waist to the neck), obviously obese, with a doctor's scalpel in front.  The caption reads, "Obesity is a risk factor for developing arthritis in the knees, hips, hands and ankles."  Why on Earth is it necessary to include what most people would consider a humiliating picture with a caption like that?  It's demeaning to whoever's headless body is being shown in such a vulnerable way and the caption makes absolutely no connection to the picture. 

Honestly, I just find this slideshow very offensive in the offhand way they toss out degrading pictures:

I think a lot of people--thin, regular, overweight, obese--would be uncomfortable being shown topless in any health slideshow, but somehow it's okay to do it when the person's fat.  Sometimes I get the idea that people think overweight folks just don't care about how they look.  In the same slideshow, I noticed this picture:

When I see this, I can't help but think, "Yeah, sure, because most overweight people walk about with their shirts bulging out like this because we all just love to look like slobs."  Please note the sarcasm.

And many a time I've seen a news story on t.v. about weight were some enterprising camera person films obese people walking about, capturing and focusing on their most painful areas, their waists and butts, while cutting off their heads (for privacy's sake, I've heard).  I imagine there are few people, healthy weight or not, that would feel comfortable with a camera focused right on their rear end and then broadcast on the local news.  Why is it okay to do this to overweight people?  Are there no stock photos or clips of obese people looking well dressed, respectable, and presentable?  An example might be the way Queen Latifah always looks amazing and well put together.  There's nothing to say that obese people don't take pains to look attractive and dress well.

If you go to plus size websites like, you'll view many models dressed in plus size clothing who look fashionable and neat. In the picture on the left for example, the woman looks beautiful and comfortable (and hey, you can get 50% off).   I would like to note, however, that sometimes I feel sites like Lane Bryant and the Avenue select models that are too small to truly portray their clothing.  They need to get some larger women in these pictures since that's who's going to wear their clothes.  I guess they feel smaller women sell clothes.

My ultimate point is that we should stop and think about the images we see of overweight and obese people on t.v, in movies, and on the internet.  How are these people being portrayed?  How does it affect the way we think of obese people?  There are certainly more positive ways to depict overweight people that wouldn't make them seem like less than human beings.  Overweight and obese people can be just as brilliant, funny, lovable, beautiful, etc. as everyone else--why not picture them that way?

If you're interested, here's an  interesting slide show of the different ways obesity is portrayed in movies:

This article is a lot more information about weight bias in the media:

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