The changing face of society: the growing importance of looks

Josh Mahannah, ‘Doah Staff Writer
April 24, 2013

The other day while perusing YouTube I stumbled upon a video of one of my favorite female singers, Mama Cass Elliot performing the famous song “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” Elliot was a member of the 1960’s band The Mamas & the Papas before she embarked on a solo career.

Being so moved by her singing, I shared the video with a friend of mine who had no idea who Elliot was. He listened to the song, and his comment to me after was that she was beautiful, but today she would not even get a record label. Elliot was what one might call a “whole lotta woman,” as she generally weighed around 300 pounds. Despite this truth, his statement irked me.

Deep down, I knew he was right. The question I had though, was why? Why do we as a society care more about how an artist looks than about their skill and ability?

Over the years our views of how women should look and present themselves has changed. In the 1950s, a woman with curves and a healthy look was in. Now, women feel pressured to be as thin as possible, often going to unhealthy lengths to get there. Elliot herself died at the young age of 32 because of health issues she acquired after losing 80 pounds in a short period of time. Can we find a happy medium, or is the world going to be dominated by the thin and beautiful while the rest of us are shunned for not living up to the standard?

In today’s society you have to be drop dead gorgeous in order to get anywhere in the entertainment industry. In fact, talent isn’t even a necessity in order to become a star anymore, as people like Kim Kardashian have proven. But, what about all of us regular people who work hard? What about our very own school and all the talented students we have here? We are all going to try to achieve our dreams but sadly many will fall short.

Society puts a stigma on overweight and obese people, and while there is a health concern attached, it often has more to do with appearance and not fitting into what is considered conventionally attractive.

My entire life I have dealt with being called names because of my weight, and while it may be true, it is still incredibly painful to hear such things said about you.

Being classified as “morbidly obese” is not something that can be fixed in a week. It takes months and years of work and dedication, and even then one might never achieve a “thin” body.

I know that medically I am not healthy right now. I have been working hard and at this point have lost nearly 40 pounds. However, it has been a constant battle. The desire to eat whatever looks good and not worry about your weight is an incredibly enticing thing. In the past I have lost weight only to gain it all back again.

No matter what weight I’m at, I try my best to not let what society thinks get to me, but it’s hard to fight the social norm. I feel shunned and like an outcast for not fitting with that norm.

I wonder if it is possible to change our progress down this path?

Can we return to a time where the ideal woman is not deathly thin?

Can we break free of the restraints of what we’ve deemed the social norm?

Can we use real talent to get to the top again?

Only time will tell.



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