Our Body Obsessed Culture
Stop for a second and picture this.
One day, out of the blue, every single person in the world wakes up and decides that they are going to be genuinely happy with their own bodies. No longer does anybody feel inclined to lose that extra bit of weight they put on over the holidays, or to shrink a certain part of their figure. Instead, everyone decides that they are going to be proud of the quirks that make their own bodies unique, rather than obsessing over how to alter them or make them disappear.
It's sad when we come to realize how unrealistic and unfathomable this vision has become. It's ridiculous, really, how much time and money we spend as a society in our ceaseless ambitions to lose "that last five pounds" or to get "the perfect body". Since when did being happy with ourselves become synonymous to having our bodies look a certain way, anyways?
As a society, we have let ourselves fall deep enough to the point where we don't even second guess the contradictions that are splattered across the covers of lifestyle and health magazines -- tips on "getting healthy" are being pitched right alongside eye-catchers such as "DROP TWO SIZES NOW". All the while, a photoshopped model with virtually unachievable limb proportions and strategically fixed curves poses provocatively across the spread of the page.
Ultimately, this body obsessed culture is the basis on which eating disorders arise, and what must give in order for things to change. As a direct result of this collective obsession, fundamental factors of our mental well-being, such as body positivity and self-love, have become completely buried. What if one day, we could create a reality where no one ever even had to wish that their bodies looked a certain way? What if one day, a physical ideal didn't even exist?
Sadly, the grip of capitalism -- among other factors -- relentlessly ensures that this pursuit remains far more easier said than done. Millions of dollars continue to be profited off of consumers' bodily insecurities, and it would be naive to hope that any of the related industries will have a change of heart anytime soon; just imagine how many companies would go bankrupt instantaneously if everyone suddenly decided to be happy with their own bodies exactly as they are.
Thus, at its core, perhaps the only way we can really get to the other side of eating disorders is to deface and dismantle this current culture of body obsession. We have collectively let ourselves become so deeply invested, to the point where we are often unable to even recognize its existence and power. Maybe it's time that we fight back against this relentless bind and redefine what being healthy is really about: loving yourself, loving your body, and owning it -- just the way it is.
~ Asaka Kaneda