In this day and age, where we are countlessly bombarded with some form of marketing message about anything and everything; we struggle more than ever to find our personal identity. Everywhere we look—TV, magazines, newspapers, social media are all trying to tell us not only what to eat, drink, wear and like, but also who to be. For instance, the “modernization” of current outlook is surreptitiously changing towards the body with larger proportions—obesity is almost encouraged under the umbrella of “accepting ourselves the way we are”. As with any new trend much of written content, opinions and discussions attempt to captivate reader’s attention through any type of emotional pull. This pull can come in a negative form through internet trolls making offensive statements directed at overweight individuals. The recent trend of supporting the obesity is an equally disturbing notion as it marginalizes the health repercussions associated with this condition.
Modern shift—a word of caution
The world is changing. With global population predicted to increase to eight billion in the next 16 years, many have the perception of clustered living and rubbing elbows with one another. However, this cannot be farther from reality as many of us feel lonelier than ever. A big reason behind this interesting paradox is “the way” we act, interact and communicate.
It seems that no matter how far things are, they are only a few keystrokes away on our handy laptop or smartphone. Everything we do is streamlined and in record time. From on-line shopping with next day delivery, to watching live feed of a developing news story half a world away.
With social media platforms, we’re drawn into continuous engagement of whatever perks our interests. Sometimes it’s curiosity, interests, fashion, popularity and also controversy. Many people engage in a variety of on-line methods—entering chat rooms, leaving comments which at times turn into heated arguments. Such emotionally charged debates are forms of identity for many users, each attempting to leave their mark in form of a digital signature.
This is all to be expected as we continue to grow and develop new ways and methods of communication, interaction and integration. However, in the modern age where subjects and points of view change winds quickly and often, a personal anchor is needed ever more in order to navigate past these distractions, on course of personal development.
Popularity vs. Accuracy
The current prevalence of posted information appears to be about who said it first, rather than factuality of the content. Many stories within politics are plain outright trash and gossip but, that does not stop them from going viral, shared by millions through personal media accounts, thus creating an informative avalanche affect.
The health and fitness realm is no different, as everyone attempting to state something controversial or different—going against the grain. Right now different sells, in all formats including books, magazines, which all generate an influx of internet traffic towards the website of origin. And, if there’s a research paper attached to support that opposing view, it is often curve-balled as fact.
Here are a few examples of what we’re referring to. A few years ago (around 2012), there was an article published in number of major magazines regarding how obesity can be healthy and does not always result in illness. This article quoted a scientific study, studying populations including obese individuals. From that, the authors continued on stating how some of these obese people were metabolically healthy and did not display any risks of diseases associated with obesity including heart disease and cancer. This article was one of the writing pieces that created the term “healthy obesity”; which continued to grow into numerous debates across television, internet and social media. This term has been slightly modified to “healthy but fat” to create more generalization and greying over some of the research facts in order to fit with specific article opinion.
This paper was quickly de-bunked as fast as it hit the press. Numerous other research articles (as recent as 2015) conducted obesity research with large number of patients into long term health effects. Paper after paper showed health risk dispositions for obesity patients. However, all the papers negating the “heathy obesity” propaganda don’t sell stories as well as those that somehow provided a magic pill. So, this term still lingers as the media is trying to sell more food, more supplements, more lies to make us feel better about our deterring health. Regardless, this “healthy obesity” paper is just one example, where the study with a specific purpose has been quoted out of context in order to create a tempting reading piece, with sole intention of driving website traffic and improving magazine’s popularity. The article of discussion did not present any facts, nor latest research into obesity, but served its purpose of attracting attention across the web.
What and Who do you believe—were they lying Before or Now?
It has become apparent in recent years that any form of attention is “good” attention. It’s a fact that increasing portion of population is struggling with their weight. These increasing numbers span across the board of every age, sex and ethnicity groups. More women and men are now considered obese and are within the risk categories for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and/or metabolic syndrome.
With any paradigm shift, waves of people or groups follow the trend taking a stand either for or against weight gain. This includes, shaming over social media accounts, creating chat rooms on reddit, or generating numerous negative or humiliating statements; discussions of which further breeds negativity within such dark community. The statement of these negative chat rooms is clear, but the message behind participants trying to shame others struggling with this personal issue is nothing more than selfish attempt at getting noticed within the masses. Popularity appears to be the top goal for many, no matter the methods used to get there. And if that popularity happens to make you the most hated person on certain social media platform, well, like it’s said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
The other side of the coin, has recently emerged as well, and that is the support and normalization of current overweight epidemic. Now, not only overweight people are firing back at the negative comments, posted by the hating trolls, the fitness experts are also trying to jump on this limelight band wagon. We have all seen the photos of fit males and females, taking an angled shot showcasing muscular definition, and then the next photo (supposedly right after) of him or her with protruding stomach and love handles.
Even through the statement appears to be positive, the message within these photos is questionable. First of, if you have a bulging stomach and body fat around hips, legs and arms, it was there all along, and your previous photos are a work of magic from the photoshop fairy. Second, the message of positive facade is not genuine and simply misleading. The real photos of bulging stomachs are just that, and these fitness experts have been misleading their readers and followers for sometime with personal images, that were not real but fabricated. Today, it’s hard to distinguish between real photo and “modified” one. And, the “touched-up” pictures are difficult to analyze for amount of true content present after computer generated filters, and additions of shadows (of six pack abs) or subtractions (of muffin tops). This is not a criticism, but a statement of what is real, and what many of us perceive to be the reality.
The other problem of the message sent with these side-by-side photos is, that losing weight is unachievable. The hidden message within these pictures states, “if someone like me—Mr/Ms fitness can’t get rid of my fat belly, than who can?” This is a dangerous ground, and it can kill dreams of people who are struggling with weight and are looking for solutions.
With so many people instantly digitizing their voices over the internet, its difficult to understand the reasons and ascertain their authenticity. In the end, most people that post some form of statement designed to shock or overtly support any cause, are simply looking to increase their personal exposure. Hate and negative comments travel through the internet like fire, engaging many to both emotional fronts of the cause. The result is—no result—except for all us knowing somebody’s avatar on reddit or google+ and talking about them being a cruel and heartless individual. However, that negative spotlight will be on for some time.
The opposite is true in reverse polarity campaigns, where people supporting overweight conditions as new norms and trying to demonstrate their point through surge of side-by-side photographs of fit individuals, who turn out to be not-so-fit after all. These discussions surge as we excessively mention “brave” individuals within the fitness industry who dared to engage in these campaigns. This clever marketing strategy is proving to be effective, as these “brave” fitness pioneers’ websites receive a large traffic influx of supporters, subscribers and customers.
Regardless of statements made on the internet about discussed opinions or points of view, most of participants are there to increase their personal glare rather than authentically contribute to ever increasing health concern.
So, what’s your MO? Fit in or just be Fit
This article discussed peaks and valleys of excess body weight topic. At Science and Strength, we believe in setting goals and going after them. Now, there is no such thing as an ideal image, body type, or measurements. Who’s measurements are you using? And, is that something that you want to do? We often fall into set criteria designated for the majority. However, the reality is that our world is changing. It’s becoming bigger, more populated, and connected in many ways than ever before. We however, often feel isolated detached from the masses, resulting in finding some social comfort within the computer screen. And, by engaging or viewing posts ranging from both sides of the spectrum, we fall into some social media corner, reading, discussing and emotionally investing ourselves in someone else’s campaign. Don’t fall for this lucrative, vulgar and at times supportive trap, as none of them have your best interests in mind.
The truth is that you have great power within you. This is the God given fact. We are different from the rest of animal kingdom as we have the power to choose. We also have the genetic potential and physiological capabilities to adapt and evolve, which we have acquired over hundreds of thousands of years. We were not the strongest, nor the fastest, nor most equipped, but we’ve continued to advance, becoming the most dominant specie. This was not by chance and we all carry these dominant traits—almost 98% of them in a genomic format. So, it is there and all you have to do is create a goal and set your sights on it. Do not let anyone or anything distract you from it. By engaging in a negative wave with some troll will not bring you closer to your goals. The opposite is also true, by discussing the side-by-side pics of some local fitness celebrity, only diverges focus from your actions towards such marketing ploys.
We live in a new world, connecting to more people, channels and information than ever before. This remarkable leap in technology has a dark side, as every person with internet access has unequivocally entered a popularity race.
Everyone is attempting their chance at fame through various sources. Media generates catchy stories inciting support, panic or digression from what we’ve come to know and understand. With booming social media platforms, many people use popular topics in order to make a name for themselves. Statements about weight gain, obesity have seen both a barrage of positive and negative waves, attempting to grab reader’s attention and engage their participation. No matter how cruel or authentic the message is, it is designed with one purpose—to boost its originator’s publicity.
Having said that, these marketing forms of popularity do bring negative side effects to the health issues that are continuously increasing. Negativity has no place at all. Supportive comments create a sense of norm, and potentially discouraging somebody’s thoughts and desires of change.
The truth is in the knowledge that change is possible but it requires effort. To follow through, you need a goal and formulate a plan of action. Staying in your own lane and not allowing any distractions will result in progress.
Please help share our with message towards your Stronger Leaner Faster Self!
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