I do not know for certain if the United States is a country made of mirrors, but I sometimes suspect it might be. I also suspect that there is no person living in this country who can actually pass by one of these mirrors without taking in his or her reflection. Some are cautious about it and sneak a peek from the corner of an eye. Others are blatant and linger, digesting the familiar face and body that returns the assessment. All formulate an opinion.
More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are either obese or overweight. The average woman in the United States is five feet four inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. That's a BMI of 27.5, which is on the high side of overweight (overweight = BMI of 25-29.9).
Whereas the desired American female has been described as tall, thin, and athletic, women who do not fit this image may be less than satisfied with their image. Women who are obese may very well find satisfaction even more elusive. Negative body image is one of the underlying reasons why weight-loss surgery is increasing in popularity in America.
Research is currently underway to assess what effect weight-loss surgery has on body image.
Body Image and Media
The media has baited the hook, and the public chases after a trophy that will probably never be had. It is similar to purchasing a winning ticket for the lottery: It is possible but not probable. As a matter of fact, the average five foot four inch tall American female will never be tall and slender. She cannot match the media sales image of "desirable."
Males share the experience. Bare-chested young men sporting bulletproof abs recommend this or that deodorant while mid-aged men watch and calculate the number of sit-ups they will need to do to bulletproof their own stomachs.
A major global study concluded that current characterizations of beauty are restraining and normally beyond reach. A current contention is that this unrealistic presentation helps to promote social acceptance of discrimination against obese people.
The Effect of Weight-Loss Surgery on Self-Image
Much has been said and written about the physiological effects of weight-loss surgery but comparatively little has been said about the psychological effects of weight-loss surgery.
The literature suggests that those who have had gastric bypass have
Improved self-image. Less is known about the impact of this new self-view.
Spousal relationships often become stressed, and the divorce rate following bariatric surgery is high. It is also known that parent-child relationships can be pressured.
Patients who have had weight-loss surgery can experience an emotional detachment from food. This alone can produce psychological strain that effects social interactions. The lifestyle changes the patient implements after obesity surgery can also have adverse affects on members of a household.
Reeducation About Body Image
A professor associated with the pending study believes reeducating people about self-image is a critical component to accepting oneself. This will help lessen the extremes people employ as they try to grab a brass ring that is always beyond reach.
Eating disorders and severe exercise regiments driven by desperation are common in the United States.
Reeducation or early education about body image can improve a bad self image or unrealistic expectations. If this were done, perhaps those attitudes that promote obesity could be alleviated. The extreme measures that people employ to fit a mold that is a poor match for them might be alleviated also.
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.
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Published On: March 20, 2012