The Beauty Myth: Time To Wake Up

Nothing in American culture has caused so many health problems as the Beauty Myth. The belief, due to media-crazed hype, that women must be painfully thin to be beautiful has caused both physical and mental distress for so many young women. The fact these issues are mostly ignored outside the medical community is an even larger problem. It is ignored because it affects mostly the half of the population that is thought to be unworthy of thought, women.

Using myself as an example; I have been on both sides of the weight issue and have been part of the problem. As a model in my teens and twenties, I was painfully thin and portrayed that image. I was also suffering from a common disorder among our young, anorexia nervosa. I counted every calorie, lived on salad almost exclusively, and exercised like a madwoman to maintain the weight expected of me. At five-foot-five (66 inches or 165.10 CM), that weight was an unhealthy low of one-hundred-ten pounds (50 KG); right off the BMI chart altogether at the low end. Normal weight for someone my height is roughly one-hundred-eighteen pounds (54 KG) up to one-hundred-forty-eight pounds (67 KG): and I strove to lower that even more.

 

Fast-forward to my forties, and I am attempting to find some relief from a lifetime of major depressive disorder. I was put on a medication called Remeron, a tetracyclic drug, used for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In six months I gained a whopping one-hundred-fifteen pounds (52 KG)! Suddenly I went from the normal end of the BMI chart to the obese domain. I was devastated, as you may imagine. My delayed research indicated that researchers don’t know why, but some medications can cause weight gain of up to twenty pounds a month and change your metabolism and the way your body stores nutrients. I have struggled for the past ten years to remove that weight, with little result.

I now have all the complications you would expect from being overweight: diabetes, high cholesterol, and self-esteem issues aplenty. As a teen suffering anorexia, my self-esteem has always been largely tied to my weight. I now live with “fat discrimination” and “body shaming” as a regular occurrence. One of my oldest friends does not believe that I don’t just sit on the couch, stuffing my face with pies, cakes, and cookies. I have
been called both a cow and a pig, especially by young men.

I have now seen both sides of the beauty myth coin and would like to call attention to them both. Neither extreme is healthy, either physically or mentally, for anyone, man or woman. For men, it is different. Men don’t live under the beauty myth’s focus. Not to say, by any means, that there aren’t young men whose self-esteem is tied to body weight and image, or suffer the debilitating effects of anorexia, there are, but it is far less common than it is for young women.

Human beings come in all shapes and sizes. Many have medical issues that put them on one side or the other of a healthy weight to begin with. Most women do not meet the glorified ideal portrayed through the media naturally. We expect a young woman to be thin to be beautiful putting a tremendous strain and mental fixation on our youth. Who doesn’t want to be considered beautiful?

Especially in this media-driven, advertising society where beauty is worshiped more than any god. It forces young women who were not fortunate enough to be small-boned and low in body fat into being anorexic to fit that image, to fit in, to be good enough, loved enough. In the case of so many, like Karen Carpenter, a music icon of the seventies, it can lead to death, or at the very least, an unhealthy idea of eating. I know an eight-year-old girl whose mother put her into modeling.

She is already showing signs of developing anorexia, and she’s not alone. The age of development of these disorders drops every decade. Body shaming has become a common term because it is so prevalent in our society which is so enmeshed in social media.

The good part of social media is that people have become more aware of health and wellness. We have begun, as a culture, to educate ourselves about a healthy weight and how to achieve and maintain it. At least among some of the adult population. Our young women are still inundated by the media ideal of beauty being an unachievable or life threatening level of thin. It’s time we started to open our eyes to the problem of the “beauty myth” and start to break through it.

Michele is an American writer, a student of psychology, and a substitute teacher. You can follow her blog ‘a single step’ here: 

https://notasweknow.wordpress.com/

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Why Setting Goals Is Not The Answer To Success

Have you ever reached a goal you’ve worked hard for and expected to feel a burst of elation only to feel a little dissatisfied? Or that you just immiediately increased the target to another goal?

In this short clip Adam Alter, author of ‘Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked’  argues that goals are never fulfilling and what you should focus on is implementing ‘systems’ instead.

Through the example of smart watches and fit bits Alter describes how people initially feel good about hitting a daily exercise goal. Yet soon the number becomes hollow and they

 

 

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have to keep increasing their exercise target in order to feel satisfaction or to feel that they’re achieving their goal. Otherwise they feel like their failing and eventually give up because they feel it’s not worth it.

This is an unsustainable way of achievement and Alter argues the problem with goals is they’re based on negative feedback, “if you don’t hit this goal you’re losing”

Systems on the other hand are based on a positive feedback mechanism. For example a blogger instead of saying “I’m going to write a post a day” can instead adopt a system of spending 40 minutes writing a day. Instead of focusing on getting a specific number of posts your focusing on becoming a better writer and saying

“Here’s my system, 40 minutes of writing a day and whatever number of words I get I’m achieving”

The Death of Owning

The Google generation is fascinating. Children growing up in an age with unlimited access to information at the end of their fingertips. Have a question about sex? Ask google. Forgot to do your homework? Copy and paste Wikipedia.

Its incredible to believe that only twenty years ago none of this was possible. You needed to own books, actually ask real people uncomfortable questions and unless your friend let you copy their work you were screwed if you didn’t do it.

 

In 2014 I wrote on the massive impact of streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify were having on the power of consumers and disrupting the economy through the digital world. Since then, Uber and Air BnB have further changed the game in the subscription economy, Instagram and Snapchat have become the social currency and more and more people have traded the onerous obligations of ownership for the ease of subscription and service.

The video attached above documents how this massive shift in power from industry to consumer marks the end of the ownership economy and the beginning of the subscription economy.

Young people these days don’t dream of buying a house and a car and working for a big investment bank. They dream of travelling the world, spending on experiences rather than materials and sharing the photos online for the world to see.

Where will this lead us? It has the potential to be as detrimental as it has to be phenomenal. There’s something intimate about owning a physical book or a physical Vinyl record – preserving memories of a time. A place. And a feeling. Subscription on the other hand is highly perishable, its gluttonous, and digital storage is not as familiar as a physical item.

What do you think?

What Do Humans Really Want?

Are humans just naturally lazy, comfort and pleasure seeking beings? Or do we really want dignity and fulfilment?

in this riveting excerpt professor Noam Chomsky discusses how the billions upon billions of dollars spent on advertising has been used to psychologically manipulate are ideas of what we want.

Tracing trends from the industrial revolution of the 1800’s to the educated poor in the 1930’s, Chomsky argues that what we really want is a sense of belonging and dignity in our work, not evermore accumulation and consumption of products.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

How to Avoid the Society Trap

Do we live in a world where someone will always have to work a horrendous job they have no connection or interest in? Or can we restructure society and trade back to its roots of individuals contributing and bartering with one another in order to create a symbiotic relationship and community?

Here Joe Rogan analyses the structures of a globalized society in which most people have lost all connection and meaning to their work He argues that so many of us have been forced to sell out on doing something fulfilling in order to have stability.

A thought provoking listen

Do Millennials Confuse “Clicktivism” with Real Activism?

In this short clip of Intelligence Squared’s debate “Millennials Don’t Stand A Chance” the speakers discuss the modern generations attitude to activism.

If Martin Luther King was marching in 2016 would thousands of people click attending on Facebook only not to show up on the day? Has the Millennial generation become more naive by social media or do they have the same traits as previous generations only magnified and documented in an online medium?

The Difference Between Gratification & Happiness: We’ve Known Since 341 BC

Epicureanism is said to be a philosophy of pleasure seeking.

Not in a capitalist sense of “treating oneself” by purchasing instant high in disregard of long term low, Be it through Sugar, alcohol or drugs. Climax is said to be an unsustainable and long term potentially destructive means of pleasure seeking. Real happiness is a state of being in which free expression, feelings of achievement and contribution can lead to the highest form of pleasure – fulfilment.

This short clip explains some of Epicurus’s finding on the importance of friendship. And also provides some interesting nuances to the notion that money and products can provide pleasure.