Weight loss stories are used in the fitness and health industries to draw the consumer in, displaying the body in a transformational state. This contributes to the social construction of living up to the ideal standards of beauty. The before and after images of the weight loss transition are one of the most concerning factors, they show a beautiful women before and then the “healthy” version of herself in the after. In the before image the women looks unhappy, in the after image she is ecstatic with displaying the new version of herself. The weight loss images are expressing the fascination of being skinny, the after images embody the answer to being “happy”. As a society we focus our culture around looking “perfect” and in order to be truly happy and healthy we must be skinny.
The idea that being skinny is equivalent to be happy is corrupt. The media is molding the way women view themselves and pressuring them to feel less than if they don’t look a certain way. As someone who has battled with self-image issues I can testify that these images of weight loss are not inspirational, they contribute to the distortion of “real beauty.” This is one of the reason women and girls battle with depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and suicide; all we are women displaying their bodies as objects of desire. Now, weight loss is needed for those who are extremely unhealthy. But they make the choice on their own and with the support of their doctor, in order to live a longer life. But weight loss stories generally are women losing 10-15lbs. Do you see the difference?
In order to get more views and followers on social media accounts (YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook etc.) the fitness & health advice blogs are drawing viewers in by having weight loss images and bold words of LOSE WEIGHT FAST, BE HEALTHY & HAPPY, SKINNY IS THE NEW PRETTY. I see this all the time on the YouTube accounts of fitness trainers. The accounts with the most views are always the ones with titles that deal with losing weight.
It’s our fault as the consumer/viewer/follower. When we click on the link we are contribute to the number of views, we are showing marketers what really draws us in. As consumers we hold all the power. We have the ability to shift cultural norms with the click of a button. Women (who make up 85% of purchase decisions) have the power to not click on the links, follow the brands, watch certain channels, and read those magazines. Women are very powerful, but tainted from the constant struggles of feeling flawed.
In order to make change we must see the issue, we must hold the media accountable by denying their temptations of societal pressures. Women need come together to express their frustrations, share their stories, and use their purchasing power to demand a healthy norm of self-love.