Hesse Biber Am I Thin Enough Yet? The Cult Of Thinness And The Commercialization Of Identity

1707 words - 7 pages

The Cult of Thinness
     Many modern women subject themselves to an intense day-to-day involvement in the pursuit of thinness demands. These demands resemble those behaviors commonly associated with cult hood. Three main “tools” are used in order to achieve this goal or ideal. The Cult of Thinness invests in thinness through primary rituals. The rituals are followed through by the obsession of a particular “ideal” body. There are also extremities or positions of higher authority with extreme involvement in cults, much like the level of devotion in The Cult of Thinness.
     Daily actions of checking and critiquing can be performed in many ...view middle of the document...

Mirrors provide a selective image to the viewer. You only see what you want to. This is particularly important, as most members to this Cult of Thinness have low self esteem. A mirror can be used to scrutinize and dissect physical flaws. “’A mirror reflects the virtual image of an object placed in front of it.’” This provides an analogy for how society fosters women’s obsession with their weight and body image. These rituals can serve as a reminder to ones self that one is not meeting the standards, guilt and self penance are results.
     In a cult, there is an object or ideal to “worship.” The Cult of Thinness rather     bows down to powerful cultural forces that reinforce the idea that a female’s worth is dependent on her physical attributes. This worshipping is supported by a strong view that thin is beautiful, and sacred. And fat is lazy, unwanted, unloved, ugly, and weak. Evident is this “’path to perfection’” (Hesse-Biber pg. 9) not only is this image virtually unattainable, but only five percent of women can actually achieve the body frame of an average magazine cover-girl. Fitting this mold, although almost impossible, also comes with a culturally assumed personality. “Attractive people are ‘viewed as being happier, more successful, smarter, more interesting, warmer, more poised, and more sociable’” (Hesse-Biber pg.59) All of these qualities are associated with the attractive body, the ideal body. This image of thinness is what is commonly displayed as attractive, setting the standard of perfection.
     There are extremities in devotion with the Cult of Thinness, as with many cults. There are more severe diseases and disorders that comes with a deeper involvement with the cult. Diseases such as anorexia and bulimia. These diseases are very dangerous and can lead to death. During the time these diseases are forming, one does not realize the extent of damages caused by their method of achieving the “ideal” body.      All in the pursuit of a common goal, which is worshipped and conducted through a series of rituals and can lead to damaging effects.
Social Causes
     The Cult of Thinness is not due to psychological aspects. We can see it is rather due to pressures and images fed to one persistently throughout ones life. This can be done through smaller sub-cults. Family and peer groups are two main sub-cults that practice continually effective methods of instilling accepted visualizations of the “ideal” body. The other effective social influence is the media which only depicts females in a very unattainable body.
     The media and advertising agencies have gained an unbelievable profit margin off of the American peoples strive to attain a certain size, shape, or weight. There are so many ways in which capitalism has benefited in this obsessive behavior the members of the Cult of Thinness...

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