It is almost inevitable in any new year to walk down the street, turn on the TV, or gather around the water cooler and hear a stranger, an actor, or a coworker talking about the holiday pounds and whatever scheme they've cooked up to obliterate them. And let's face it, our hips and thighs are rarely safe in the last few months of every year with the endless parade of sweets, snacks, and, ahem, cocktails that marches through our offices and kitchens. Sadly though, I can't help but look at the people around me and think "what the hell are you complaining about?" While a few pesky pounds may have nestled comfortably on their abdomens, they are hardly noticeable, let alone worthy of a crash diet of tiny calories and psychotic carb-counting. Most fail to see that once returning to their previous lifestyle after the barrage of food, those little pounds will eventually fall off on their own. Most fail to see that there's nothing wrong with them in the first place.
The obsession of weight and beauty in pop culture today is not a novel one, but is growing ever more concerning as society begins to polarize, values are shifted, and the power of influence is won. Battles between activist groups and the media have ensued and results are sketchy to say the least. Italy banned too-thin models from their runways, hoping to reset the mode on the incredible shrinking shrews on the catwalks, but most models who couldn't find work there moved to France and New York, where such bans have yet to be placed. While there was marked outrage over an America's Next Top Model contestant whose waist was so small a judge could cup his hands around it, an incident which forced the show's creator Tyra Banks to issue a public apology, the model went on to take home the prize in the show. Celebrities speak out about being comfortable in their skin when the pounds are packed on, but immediately lose the weight in the face of criticism, (i.e. the martyr Jennifer Love Hewitt who viciously attacked the media for their comments on her cellulite before quickly slimming to a size 2). Magazines that even brag about healthy living and self-acceptance are slaves to the machine with ads and falsified photos. We are constantly pummeled with images of stick thin models and actresses, most of which are not even accurate images given the technology of retouching, but they nevertheless set the bar impossibly high and create societal standards of beauty no one could meet. But, we try, God help us we try, and with every failed attempt a piece of self-esteem withers and every mirror becomes our mortal enemy. The socially determined rules of beauty are a poison in our world, and it's trickling down to our children.