Dying to be thin
America, as a first world Western country, glorifies external physical feature, classifying tall, thin figures and gaunt cheekbones as true beauty.
Since the majority of Americans are overweight, one would not assume people are necessarily eager to harm their bodies in order to be thin. Going about weight loss incorrectly can be even more detrimental to health than packing on the extra pounds naturally.
From years of neglecting healthy eating and daily exercise, which later leads to morbid obesity for some, or the skinny-mini with body dysmorphia who is malnourished, both are eager to find ways for rapid weight loss.
Many turn to the quick fix that is surgery.
Gastric banding surgery, also known as Lap-Band surgery, and other fat-reducing surgical procedures carry risks of side effects.
Paula Rojeski died shortly after surgery to implant a Lap-Band at Valley Surgical Center in West Hills — she was the fifth person since 2009 to die from the procedure. No one should die trying to be thin.
For some heavily-overweight patients, the surgical option is the only option. These procedures can increase life span quicker than any weight-loss diet and relieve pressure on internal organs, preventing damage.
Yvonne Ortega, Santa Monica College nutrition professor and registered dietitian, said that Lap-Bands “create a smaller pouch using a band so the band only allows the stomach to hold a small amount of food like two tablespoons of food at one time.”
Ortega said although procedures like the Lap-Band may help morbidly obese patients, they are not ideal and are considered aggressive treatments.
Regardless of the technology available, it is unacceptable for people to get to this point of heavy physical and psychological distress. Overweight people need to get up and move, not sit on their asses waiting for a surgery that they think will fix all their problems.
While there are people that need the surgery to survive, there are others putting the image of thinness on a pedestal rather than healthy fitness.
Ortega mentions that when it comes to eating disorders, it is usually women in their 20s who feel pressured from friends, society and media.
“Eighty percent of women all judge themselves after celebrities and feel worse about themselves after reading a celebrity gossip magazine,” said Crystal Bonilla, member of Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at SMC. “The media perpetuates a fabricated image and people react to it; they internalize it.”
Media influence on beauty puts pressure on society to look a certain way, rather than educating people on how to be healthy, people find the fastest way to look like a Victoria’s Secret model.
For example, Rojeski's family's lawyer said that the surgical procedures at clinics were affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN advertising campaign, which featured thin models and promoted that an individual would have a better life after the procedure.
Particularly in Los Angeles, where billboards highlight slim, photo-enhanced models and celebrities, cosmetic surgeries and eating disorders are commonplace.
“Your bad mental health will affect your physical image and your physical will affect your mental; it’s kind of like a cycle of self-hatred," said Chandler Le Francis, vice-president of Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance.
Society turns to the media to sort out feelings, but people are constantly told through advertisements that everyone has to look perfect.
Many forget the “beautiful” people in advertisements are paid to look good. They train hours a day, and have teams of professionals like makeup artists, trainers and stylists who create a facade of perfection.
If it were not for the number of people assigned to polish the look of a model or entertainer, the standards would not be stress-provoking in terms of looking a certain way to fit in.
With the exception of morbidly obese people who need rapid results in order to live, the rest of society is abusing their bodies in the process of losing weight.
From diet pills to master cleanses, people spend hundreds of dollars relying on pills and other fat-burning products to lose the weight quickly without having to step foot in the gym. People automatically think you have to pay for a gym membership and eat expensive vegan food in order to healthy, when in reality you can find reasonable alternatives, go for a run or find exercises to do at home.
Quick fixes to be thin are temporary, just like the rebound who mended your broken heart.
People need to stop dying to be thin, and start fighting to be fit.