Why Is Being Fat or Skinny Perceived Negatively

By: Hitomi Usui

As social media continuously impacts our daily lives, we become more engrossed in thoughts of body image. We can all relate to this when we scroll through Instagram. Upon observing countless pages and feeds, we notice that most celebrities we follow seem to have the standard body type pushed by pop culture.  However, social media is not the only factor in contributing to how beauty is perceived; a person’s culture and upbringing can influence their views on body image as well. 

Before considering the cultural aspects, let us think about the body image that social media perpetuates. Not only are clear skin and a good tan the main traits of being attractive, but internet culture also places an emphasis on western ideals of wellness. Since our feeds are filled with bodybuilders and Instagram influencers, we perceive that being fit and having defined abs should be everybody’s end goal. As a consequence, when someone thinks they are not “ideal,” social media makes it harder to ignore this thought.  Thus, we compare ourselves to the so-called social norm of having an hourglass or pear-shaped figure. But we don’t realize that our perception is an illusion.

Behind the perfect photo lies hours of editing and staging. Many photographers who take pictures of these celebrities use Adobe Photoshop, blurring away the flaws these people have. Due to the birth of Instagram influencers, more photographers are starting to heavily edit their clients’ pictures, which creates an unrealistic ideal of body image.

We get it.

OK — it’s their job to make the celebrities and influencers look desirable, but this action creates an extremely damaging standard of beauty. Even then, we aren’t aware of these behind-the-scenes processes and end up comparing ourselves to the end result. We begin to look at our flaws through a falsified lens instead of embracing who we are.

Unfortunately, statistics show that an alarming amount of people experience this type of emotion. According to King University, around 87 percent of women and 65 percent of men compare themselves to other images found on social and traditional media, with approximately 50 percent of women and 37 percent of men discerning their bodies unfavourably. But even then, social media is only one part of the perception of beauty.

On the other hand, our environmental and cultural upbringing can also affect our own perception of body image. Some people may think that being overweight or underweight implies irresponsibility, laziness and poor health.  These ideals are continuously perpetuated on pop culture in their own specified countries. For example, celebrities from the K-pop industry are skinny and are idolized a lot in Asian countries. However, many of us don’t realize that these K-pop idols are forced to starve themselves until the industry is satisfied with their weight. 

With that being said, these perceptions are now impacting dating culture as well. If a person were thinking subconsciously about body image when looking for a partner, they obviously would want their significant other to be healthy. Although the subconscious decision may be toxic, it is inevitable about the fact that everyone’s body image is constantly judged. When deemed to be overweight or underweight, one would think that the other is not taking care of themselves and is unattractive. 

Body image issues are definitely problematic among our current generation. Due to the emphasis on appearance, we are now making our choices based on our self-esteem. If social media and pop culture continue to emphasize these unachievable standards, it will be difficult for everyone to be content with their bodies and make the right decisions.

As we move forward with the body positivity movement, we should realize that if a person is content with their own body, we should just let them be. But until we get rid of the definition for the “perfect” body, unfortunately, insecurity will always exist for people who do not feel part of the idolized standard.  

 

Body Positivity Resources 

The Body Positive: 

https://thebodypositive.org 

About Face: 

https://about-face.org 

Vice’s Article: 

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ep45qa/what-does-body-positivity-mean-in-2020 

Body Brave: https://bodybrave.ca