Critical Approaches to Culture + Communications

A Weblog by Ron Burnett (Founded in 1994 and now celebrating 23 Years!!)

This site began as one of the first academic sites in Canada when the World Wide Web was in its early phase of development. I have maintained it through many iterations since 1994.

Hypochondriac Culture (4)

In cultures devoted to the body, there are any number of different ways in which hypochondria manifests itself. One of the overwhelming cultural concerns of the moment is what is being described as an epidemic of obesity. The response has been an epidemic of diets, diet movements and articles in magazines and newspapers about weight, body shape and health. I am not suggesting that a population that is generally overweight is a good thing. I support healthy living and exercise and so on. The challenge is how to explain weight, the body and biology in such a way that people do not get scared and worried about their health. Fear of the consequences is only one of many possible ways in which individuals will come to grips with the challenges that they face. But, fear can overtake the process and in fact lead to a defensive or stoical response. A fatalistic attitude is not the answer, but if the odds seem too great, and the fear too strong, why attack the core of the issue? Weight is as much about overeating as it is about an inability to "see" the body, to see our own bodies.

The aesthetics of body image -- how we hold to and understand our own sense of self, will not be solved by just losing weight.