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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Overweight Women - Discrimination Against Women




I come from a part of the world where women are embraced for being big. You see, back then people that were fat were viewed as being healthy and happy. On the other hand, if someone was skinny, like I was always skinny; people believed that skinny people were sick,miserable and unhealthy. It's like fat was in and skinny was out. This still holds true as some parts of the world do embrace fat women while others tend to have a problem with obese women.

When I came to America, it's all the opposite.Fat is out and skinny is in and its at a huge cost. In Art History, I learn about the "woman of Willendorf"(picture above). She is portrayed with large breasts, large hips and a detailed vulva and symbolizes fertility.The aim of this paper is to explore women and obesity.

Through the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern ages, Womanhood has had and still has its share of woes. The ability to survive in a world dominated by men and a society which is not sympathetic to the travails of women has not been easy: “The indifference of the world which Keats and Flaubert and other men of genius have found so hard to bear was in her case not indifference but hostility. The world did not say to her as it said to them, Write if you choose; it makes no difference to me.
The world said with a guffaw, Write? What’s good of your writing” (Woolf 2462)? Women lived in a world where they were viewed as brainless and merely as vessels to breed sons and daughters-one of the many debased classification of women; still with the rise of courageous women and movements like women lib enabling women to evolve to some extent from being the doormats they once were; to date women are targets of weight bias that takes an emotional, physical, and social toll on their lives.

The media and other mediums of communication are major culprits in the discrimination of overweight women. In their portrayal of beauty; women are usually depicted as tall, skinny, and of a certain built. Seldom does an overweight woman grace the cover of popular magazines neither is she photographed next to a beautiful car or a strong male with a six pack.

This preoccupation with obesity and weight gain affects women to an extent which is often detrimental. Susan Bordo argues, “The practices of femininity and particularly of dietary restrictions and body modeling reinforce the feel and conviction of lack of insufficiency of never being good enough. At the farthest extremes, the practices of femininity may lead us to utter demoralization, debilitation, and death” (p.166).

According to Bordo, obese women are made to feel inadequate, not good enough and their self esteem is attacked. They do not have the temperament to handle constant kidding about their weight. What may appear to be funny or hilarious to others is never funny to the ones who are subjected to it. When people are labeled a certain way, they have the tendency of making that name theirs and usually believe that such labeling defines who they are.

Such is the case with overweight women who are often led to a path of destruction. Eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia come into to play as some women become obsessed with exercise to achieve the “ideal” weight and this impedes them in the area of health. Women feel inadequate and the struggle to be accepted for whom they are rather than what they’ve become is a constant battle.

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