Description: A screenshot of some tweets under #womensobesity hashtag, from the recent dieticians’ summit in Sydney to discuss obesity prevention in young women. One of the panellists was Mia Freedman. Tweet reads:
@MiaFreedman I agree body image sensitivity has made talking about and acting on #WomensObesity fraught
Discussion of women’s obesity is SO FRAUGHT because of all the positive discourse about body image flying around. I mean, that is why, obvy, there are no diet ads, particularly during TV programming with a high percentage of female viewers. That is why women’s magazines, even the ones who have sworn off promoting diets, never run weight management tips or ‘obesity research news’ in their health and recipe sections. That is clearly why images bombarding young women in everything from advertising to brochures at the GP’s office never promote a slim ideal or imply that there is anything wrong with having a different kind of body. I mean, positive discourse about having good body image is so EVERYWHERE right now that there is no way a TV programme based around shaming people for the size of their bodies would ever get to air, let alone rate highly. And, well, let’s not even get started on how absent any commentary on the size or appearance of a female politician’s (or, say, a Surgeon General’s) body is from the media. And clearly, positive body image promotion has made it so fraught to even mention that fat is bad or unhealthy or anything like that that there is virtually no risk of being stigmatised if you are fat. Doctors will never say that you are at risk of early death because you are fat, even if they lack any real basis for it based on your own health history and behaviours. Hell, you can’t even tell fat people they’re unhealthy anymore because we are all so worried about body image. No young woman is ever given the impression that she needs to diet from a dietician, and weight loss experts have to go incognito to their conferences these days, lest the media lampoon them for daring to hurt the blossoming body image of young consumers! What’s more, we’re all so concerned about positive body image that we care far more about mental health, self esteem, eating disorders and stigmatisation than we do about making a quick buck from telling people to go on a diet. That’s why the diet industry can barely get a gig in this town.
And you know what really, really, never happens now that even discussing obesity is so fraught thanks to all the concern about body image? People who make money and career advancements from saying they promote positive body image never say anything that could be construed as body-shaming. No way. We never hear negative comments about the size of one’s bum or concern trolling about fat people’s health because postive body image advocates know JUST HOW FRAUGHT THAT IS.
So happy that my work here is now done.