Obesity re-programming: is perception being manipulated?

An ever-growing press trend demands we not only accept obesity, but laud it as if it were unchangeable—even beautiful.

[Ed.: Then-HuffPo writer Kimann Schultz wrote this back in 2016. They refused to publish it. Do you think it was because the claims were too ridiculous—or giving the game away? The story has been updated with screenshots of fatness in media per 2022 to hit you over the head with the answer.]

Are we being re-programmed via an ever-growing press trend to not only accept obesity but laud its appearance and acceptance, as if it were an inherent and unchangeable, aesthetically pleasing characteristic, like eye color?

In the search for romance and partners, individuals are being vilified for stating preferences for slender/fit types, which heretofore was argued as biologically driven selectivity for healthy (fertile and able to bear children) partners.

Parents are being condemned for not accepting their children’s obesity and castigated when they call it out, regardless of the extreme level of destruction they are witnessing in their beloved children and trying to curtail.

That this calling out is now also being done for the entertainment of the masses is its own monster; the desire for one’s Warholian fifteen minutes overrides tact and privacy in this media saturated culture, where attention comes at vitalized cost. As it sells commercial spots, it is supported by big industry, from a mass media need to fill 24/7 time slots to all weight-related industries, whose success depends on the ongoing attempts and failures of their consumers.

Likewise, designers, retailers and their representatives are being attacked and boycotted when word that their demographic is not all-inclusive is viralized. Given the vast realm of physical and financial demographics, when ever was there a mandate that all clothing lines be manufactured for everyone? Fashion and wearables are material, materialistic products; this is a garment industry reality. Price point alone structures a bigger societal divider than any range of sizes and is not only accepted but celebrated.

Additionally, online and print articles prepare readers beforehand with warnings of disturbing, so-called “triggering” images when a photo of a corseted or over-thin body is shown, yet articles everywhere else tout the beauty in obesity and champion its integration as a personal, permanent physical reality.

Related: Cosmo’s 25 dumbest pieces of relationship advice ever

Image after image and story after story of obesity is presented by the media for purposes of mass acceptance, admiration, and congratulatory support. It’s healthy, even!

In contrast, witness the hate mobs forming against non-celeb, fitness-boasting mom posters and bloggers who are attacked and denigrated for their quest for slenderness — even in cases where they’re merely trying to reclaim their pre-pregnancy figures.

Obesity is the result of overeating and a stagnant, sedentary lifestyle. The calories the body stores ultimately come from ingested food. Other life elements can exacerbate the degree of obesity and there are rare disorders that wreak havoc with the body, but overconsumption of food is the foundational, pivotal cause.

Physical differences and body types will always result in different shapes within healthier, livable weight ranges. Most individuals will assuredly never be built or even look like the modern, pop culturally designated ideals. Some people will always be bigger, some will always be smaller. But to reach unhealthy levels of obesity, commensurate calories must be ingested.

This fundamental admission is minimized or absent everywhere as society and the media employs its litany of 1001 excuses, which now include rampant government blaming. However, no one will ever become obese from gorging on genetically manipulated produce, nor will one ever become obese from eating in balance and balanced quantities the commercial crap that fills grocery store shelves and fast food orders, either. It’s not the bowl of neon-hued, fortified cereal in the morning that does it; it’s the entire box consumed at midnight.

Rampant health issues are a cascade effect brought on by obesity. Even weight-loss surgery, the medical industry’s newest darling, is now being singled out for its ill effects and frequent failure. Logic dictates these surgeries should contribute to post weight loss health issues, for weight loss surgery involves invasive implantation of foreign objects and the tampering of the body’s normal construction and function, something the body is designed to fight.

Ironically, we see the cosmetic implantation industry continue to grow despite long-known, expensive and painful health ramifications, but vanity and outright laziness happily and voluntarily seek deep pockets in individuals’ deep-seated quests to “fix” one’s self in a society where the homogenized fake has found its own redefinition, that of status indicator and aesthetic acceptance.

When exactly and why did we turn the corner to where the weight conversation is less about bypassing the bypass or undoing it, less about conquering one’s eating disorders or changing one’s lifestyle with permanent intention and execution, and more about embracing the aesthetics of a condition that is now as before extremely costly and morbidly dangerous?

Is changing one’s lifestyle – which means real change and growth – by committing tough love and doing the work (fitness and lifestyle) being ignored in deference to the diet and food industries, for whom it can only be about profit – the low-cal/diet foods and plans sold? Has advertising created an addiction for the very need of such crutches? Deference to diet and food industries must also include bowing to the mass quantities of food made and sold to provide those weight-ballooning calories in the first place, aka the original source material for one’s obesity/weight problem.

Important to note is the exploding plus-size fashion industry who wants its plus-size demographic as is and then some, again a simple, profit-based quest to grow the bottom line. As for the weight loss surgical industry, Americans have been and continue to be programmed to see and depend on high cost fixes in all matters of health, for healthcare is shareholder/profit driven and money calls the shots. Always has, always will.

While infertile couples pay dearly out of pocket and family planning remains America’s medical and political albatross, obesity surgery is regularly covered, which only serves to protect and grow the market and the high profitability of its products and services.

And publicity sells, even if where obesity re-programming is concerned it is now the conflicting deluge of mutually exclusive ideals. Today’s technology facilitated 24/7 media environment is designed to confuse the masses, who are incapable of filtering nuances in the information with which they are bombarded.

There is no longer any difference between notoriety and fame. One obvious example is the best-selling Rolling Stone issue featuring the alleged Boston Marathon bomber on its cover. Another example is the investment in campaign television commercials created solely to broadcast falsehoods, which though immediately called out, still sink elections.

We, the collective audience, have become indiscriminate, macrophagic consumers; negative publicity is now equal to good publicity.

So it begs the questions:

Are the media and its recipients being manipulated by industries that know full well the malleability of overweight, unhealthy, searching souls, writers, readers, posters alike? How many deciding members of the media are themselves victims of these issues and unable to allow for unbiased disclosure of all sides of this conundrum?

Our universal quest for acceptance and modern, confused notions of happiness do leave every last person susceptible, so the media deluge is sweetened and made more palatable with little, continuous doses of psych 101 reinforcement via rationalization through the aesthetic re-programming and perception manipulation of an unhealthy physical state of being.

Could the obesity re-programming trend be as home grown as the echo of individuals in the media who have become, likely unwittingly, unified in this thematic quest from their own negative experiences, or are they perhaps banking on this being the next big PC arena?

The lure of success in the nearly infinite, virtual world of journalism/entertainment is as vicious a circle, as is the yo-yo effect of repeated, failed weight loss attempts. Who is being honest with whom; and once disseminated to the masses, who is able to separate unbiased journalism from the personal agendas of the nearly countless, at times anonymous – and certainly often unqualified – contributors and editors?