Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Physique and the self esteem epidemic

It's outright horrible.

What I call a self esteem epidemic is the growing body-culture and the psychological ails it causes the general public. Growing amounts of people succumb to pressure to work out, eat less, and be slimmer. There has been an increase of eating disorders across the board; Anorectics, bulimics, extreme dietists. Why? Why do people have such low self esteem, such fragile confidence and little faith in themselves? I know this not only because the statistics say so, but because I've seen it, and what it can do to people.

A couple of reasons. First and foremost, the idealistic body-image that we think we find so attractive nowadays. This is the mother and father of most of the issues with low self in regards to physical culture. Historically, one of the most fit and demanding western physical cultures was that of the Greek. The Greek Gods, Adonis (Not a God, but a part of the mythology nonetheless.) in particular, were beautiful by all standards. Adonis was considered the most beautiful of all men. Aphrodite was a female counterpart. If you Google these, then you will notice that by modern standards, they wouldn't even be considered particularly fit. In most sculptures, Adonis is somewhat on the slim side, but in some of the sculptures, one couldn't even tell if he lifts.

The physical culture that surrounds both the male and female bodies of today is an extreme next to the already idealized bodies of the Greek Gods. The fact is, though, that those same Greeks, with their strong emphasis on physique, would find the models of today hideously underweight, because both Adonis and Aphrodite were sculpted based on what was found to be most beautiful back then. That goes to show both how extreme the physical culture of today is, and dynamic this ideal is.

Even more telling, back in the day of Marilyn Monroe, people still bought fattening products, lard, to get wider and gain weight. Because it was considered more beautiful to be wider and curvy, an ideal not reflected in media anymore. Models since then have become freakishly thin. We've all seen the magazine covers with the photoshopped women, but this skinny-image is also prevalent in the masculine media. Look up Burberry's male models. Most, although not all, are very skinny, and some are terribly underweight. The elongate necks and spindly limbs are all over Burberry's marketing.

Why? Why has society come to adore the skinny?

There's no one theory or explanation, but several factors. There is an obesity epidemic, especially in America. How does this affect Europe, and us? It affects us, because our media is Western, and nothing is more Western than America. HUGE amounts of money are to be made in solving the fatty crisis of America. Absolutely HUGE amounts of money, in slimming- and fitness products, in, well, the skinny lifestyle. Media is the salesman telling us we need to buy the skinny lifestyle.

Essentially, the media is telling the obese US people to get skinny. But we are all part of the media, and the american media is undeniably a large portion of it. So by extension, we are also made to feel bad, because the media forces the impression upon us that we need to slim up. The truth is, we're not obese. But by American extension, were made to feel bad about it.

And yes, it really is the media. Biologically, we are not engineered to be attracted to the bony. The pristine attraction is that to signs of fertility, and that is everything that exists on a biological level. We are meant to like women with wide hips, large breasts, healthy looking skin and hair, because these are the signs that tell us that this woman is ready to carry a child. Women ought to be attracted to tall men with wide shoulders, and a balance between muscle and health, because these are the men that seem best capable in protecting women and offspring. This is all the sexual attraction that exists on a biological level. Skinny is not part of it. The rest of our ideals come from society.

But this is the way it is. We can't help what society thinks, it makes all of us feel bad about our bodies. The self esteem epidemic stems from our unrealistic physical culture, and there isn't a lot we can do to directly influence this. But change needs to start from somewhere. In the mean time, let's try not to starve to death, or live unhealthy lives only because we strive to unrealistic goals. That's the gist of it, really. There's nothing wrong with beauty, even though the ideals come from a wicked place. But we can't let this impede our abilities to live normal, healthy lives. We can't let physical culture become the only culture we know, which seems to be something of an oncoming reality.

I've been wanting to make an entry about this kind of stuff for a while now. I plan this to be the first in a series of entries that will be about the human body, working out, and health, and this entry will serve as an introduction. I'm also going to write about myself, and how I balance health, happiness and working out, in becoming a better looking me.