We've all see the video clips of some fat behind or huge protruding belly waddle across our television screens as the news does its occasional health reports on obesity, but there is a strong move to "normalize" obesity today, led by those who want to see more plus-sized models. (These are for the most part the same people who would have others believe Marilyn Monroe would be a size 12 or 16 today.)
Let's look at the facts. If "normal" is defined by "everyone is doing it" then obesity is becoming "normal," because there is no doubt Americans are increasingly overweight. However, if "normal" is defined by historic measurements and what is healthy, then obesity is far from normal. Unfortunately, there is increased pressure on the fashion industry to come up with ploys like vanity sizing and more plus-sized models to make overweight Americans feel better about their unhealthy lifestyle.
There was a time when cigarette smoking was the norm. Everyone did it, and for decades we had models and movie stars puffing away on cancer sticks. The end result was more and more Americans took up smoking. It was seen as both "normal" and "beautiful." The impressionable young took up smoking in their teens, preteens and some in elementary school. Smoking had been normalized. The result of elevating an unhealthy lifestyle was rising cancer and emphasyma rates.
We don't need to make obesity anymore accepted or normalized than it already is by putting up more photos of obese or overweight models. Obesity is not healthy. It is not beautiful. It is a leading cause of most major illnesses: heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, pancreatitis, and the failure of other organs.
Dr. Davide Dragone and Dr. Luca Savorelli of the University of Bologna in Italy wrote the paper Thinness and Obesity: A Model of Food Consumption, Health Concerns, and Social Pressure.
The Thinness and Obesity paper, which was presented at the 2011 annual conference of the Royal Economic Society in London, states that countries like the U.S. where the fashion industry is more accepting of plus-size models have heavier populations:
"To promote chubby fashion models when obesity is one of the major problems of industrialized countries seems to be a paradox. Everyone has to trade off in life a number of things like the pleasure of eating and going to the gym as a cost, so if you just fix the average healthy weight, then maybe you will throw up some incentives to be thin."
While we don't need more anorexic models, we also don't need more overweight models. Instead of trying to normalize another unhealthy lifestyle through vanity sizing and plus-sized models, we should be doing a better job of educating American on the dangers of obesity. Americans should look more closely at their personal body mass index as a true indication of whether they are underweight, overweight or healthy. As Dr. Dragone and Dr.Savorelli point out, Americans need the self-discipline to trade the pleasure of eating for the benefits of the gym, exercise and healthy eating.