Imagine a man surrounded by a pack of supermodels at the beach. The man in shorts, the super models in bikinis. Look at their physique. I bet in your imagination you are seeing a muscular build on the man, cleanly chiseled muscles. The supermodels slim, with swollen chests. Although not immediately apparent, this train of thought is a form of social conditioning which has reshaped our natural perceptions of body image. This forces us to conform to a certain stereotypical mind set; that we must physically look a certain way to be considered good looking.
Walking into the gym it is obvious these ideals have shaped our way of thinking; ninety nine percent of those in the gym are not training for a sport, triathlon or bodybuilding competition. If not for performance based reasons why are countless men and women shedding sweat and blood so vigorously? As I lie on the bench-press loaded with a series of plates, I ask myself the same question. Am I doing this to satisfy my ego, or am I just insecure about the way my body looks? The answer lies within the Medias’ brainwashing imagery. When was the last time you saw an overweight or ‘healthy’ woman advertising Nike’s new swimwear line, or a music video with a bunch of ‘KFC girls’ dancing around? The increase in frequency of viewing those physically ‘fit’ causes us to believe this is the way we should look like, that it is the way everyone else looks. This therefore applies pressure on us to look this way, to fit in and be considered attractive.
So why does this ideology even exist? Money, the very thing that makes the world go round, drives this insidious marketing tactic. Sports and fitness companies are pick-pocketing the vulnerable who have their backs turned, oblivious to this deception. Just think of all the makeup, fitness books, supplements, nutritionists, and cosmetic surgeries being purchased to improve one’s looks .The number of businesses which are thriving simply because we have been made to feel inadequate as we naturally are. How would these businesses survive if we were left to feel happy with ourselves?
Even companies selling fitness machines are taking advantage of our ambitions towards aesthetic pleasure. Just look at advertisements for exercise equipment guaranteeing a quick six pack. AB circle pro claiming a 4lb weight reduction in 2 weeks or your money back guaranteed. The other half of the story we fail to recognize is the strict diet and low body fat that is required to obtain and maintain that muscle definition. Both men and women are falsely being led to believe that taking fat burning pills will result in a size 8 figure; when these are no more effective than ‘obecalp’ sugar pills. Sports nutrition companies are exploiting unhealthy insecurities for financial benefit.
This marketing technique is not only being exploited by fitness companies, but also by the marketers of anything, from heaters to dentistry. It seems everyone is taking advantage of this new ‘insecure generation’, exploiting it to their advantage, worsening the situation. Turning on the television we are bombarded by a barrage of ads for ‘healthy living’, weight loss companies and supplement companies, all trying to make a quick fortune. On television MTV broadcasts shows such as ‘Get Thin or Die Trying’ and ‘I Used to be Fat’.
This channel aimed at teenagers, is broadcasting the wrong message. In the past, we associated weight as an issue with older age and ‘Jenny Craig’ as a solution to what is known as the midlife crisis. However, due to the range in the age of viewers, symptoms of health disorders are seen at early ages, as low as ten years old. On first glance it would appear that the media has created a healthy ‘fitness trend’ within our societies to counter the increasing rates of obesity, however much the opposite is occurring. Eating disorders such as anorexia are beginning to increase at alarming results. It seems there is so much pressure to look a certain way, men and women will do anything to achieve these results.
There is nothing wrong with being ‘fit’ and as a result changing your body; it’s just the manner the media is using that makes it unacceptable. For example judging others by their physical appearance is an innate response by humans to used hundreds of years ago when we were cavemen and mate selection came down to genetic strength (indicated by physical appearance/strength). Therefore body image is a natural human response, however due to the media’s intentions, it is turning into an insidious disease slowly creeping within our societies.