Tuesday, June 18, 2024
News, analysis and commentary by UBC Journalism students

The great weight debate

Brace yourselves. I’m about to let you in on my deepest secret. I love celebrity gossip. Most of the time….

By Sarah Stenabaugh , in Feminizer: Western cultural values , on February 3, 2009

Brace yourselves. I’m about to let you in on my deepest secret.

I love celebrity gossip. Most of the time.

While many of you were following the Super Bowl this past weekend, I was glued to CNN’s weekend long debate over singer Jessica Simpson’s weight gain. Apparently, she is now a size eight.

However, as much as I love celebrity gossip, the who’s fat and who’s thin headlines can sometimes be ridiculous. Since when is a size eight considered fat?

No wonder people criticize the media for the distorted body images of many young girls today.

I mean, the “thin is in” trend has been around long before my time but it seems girls today are bombarded by media outlets depicting beauty as a size 00 and publicly scrutinizing high-profile women who are not that size.

Needless to say, society’s obsession with thinness is at its height and may be wreaking havoc on more than our country’s impressionable young teens.

Canadian doctors are now seeing symptoms of eating disorders like bulimia nervosa, binging and purging, in kids as young as five. Investigation into the sudden increase of eating disorders in young children has now been initiated by the Canadian Pediatric Surveillance Program.

Although current research is limited, many specialists believe that young children are not oblivious to society’s social messages.

Dr. Leora Pinhas, the psychiatric director of the eating disorders program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, warns that youngsters are social sponges and even though they cannot see through social messages, they do get the sense that being overweight is wrong.

So, as I am able to laugh off the¬†news coverage of Jessica Simpson’s weight gain as insane, a five-year-old child watching the same program with his/her parents wouldn’t interpret it in the same way. It’s the exact same as how some teens don’t realize that the pictures in their fashion magazines are digitally retouched and that the model they see doesn’t really exist.

Now, I realize that the media and celebrities cannot be entirely blamed for our society’s obsession with perfection, but they continue to add fuel to the fire with useless debates-like whether or not Jessica Simpson is fat.

In the end, the present pressures on young girls to be rail thin is enough to make your stomach turn. However, even the thought of a five-year-old suffering from an eating disorder because of society’s social messages makes me want to ban buying or viewing celebrity gossip for anyone under the age of 19.


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