I still remember when I was a child, my parents always called me “fat boy”. In the traditional culture of my hometown China, “fatty” means cute, full of blessing. No one associated “fat” with being ugly. Even when I was a high school student, “fat boy” was still my parents’ nickname for me. But in recent years, Chinese aesthetics has been changing quickly. Now, you can easily find all kinds of diet pills on sale in stores, and more and more recreation centers open classes for fitness, such as yoga. The only purpose is to lose weight and gain a skinny body. Suddenly, it seems as if being skinny is equated with being “beautiful.
This is a trend and culture, like a hurricane sweeping around the China rapidly. Why has this new standard of beauty taken root and spread across China so quickly? In the article “The Globalization of Eating Disorders” written by Susan Bordo, she tries to explain this phenomenon. The author, Susan Bordo, begins her essay with a personable example of a young girl standing in front of the mirror, which the readers can relate to. This example introduces the concept of “body image” (814). It is a great way to capture the reader’s interest. The young girl is a typical white, middle-classed, North American (Susan Bordo, 814).
Then, the author uses a similar example, an African American girl who would “rather die from starvation than gain a single pound” (Susan Bordo, 814). According to the author, this girl comes from a race that is proud of their voluptuous bodies, but was ashamed of her own body (Susan Bordo, 814). The culture of body image, like an invisible hand, has been changing people’s aesthetic views. By comparing these two examples, the author lets the readers realize the gravity of eating disorders. Immediately following these examples, the author urges the readers to seriously consider the problem of eating disorders.
She moves the readers’ attention from North America to other parts of the world to explain how this phenomenon is taking place. Nowadays, the best ways to gain information are through the media–TV, Internet, newspapers and magazines. In addition to news and weather forecasts, the media also conveys popular standards of beauty to the viewers. The author gave the example of the women and girls who live on the Fiji islands. Then the author quoted Anne Becker, an anthropologist, who thought that Fijian cultural traditions, which celebrate eating and favor voluptuous bodies, would “withstand” the influence of the media images ( Susan Bordo, 815).
But it seems that Becker was wrong, these Fijian women were satisfied with their voluptuous body figures until programs from US, England, and Australia broadcasted there three years later ( Susan Bordo, 815). Thus it can be seen that the Fiji islands were not immune to the effects of this culture. To emphasize that eating disorders and body image have become a global phenomenon, Bordo mentions similar occurrences in Central Africa and Asia. For Central Africa, a voluptuous body type was considered desirable and healthy, compared to the skinny body type as poverty-stricken and disease ( Susan Bordo, 815).
When a skinny, light-skinned African girl was sent to Miss World Pageant, she won the competition ( Susan Bordo, 815). This sent the message to women in Central Africa that slim is beautiful. For Asia, the same thing happened. Compared to Caucasians and Hispanics, Asian people have more delicate bones, and smaller body sizes. I took a physical examination before I came to America. My weight was 185 pounds, the doctor said, “you are so fat! The average weight for Chinese male is around 155 pounds, and female is around 98 pounds. ” After the physical examination, the doctor warned me very serious, “you need to diet and work out.
As mentioned earlier, Chinese people are fanatic in work out and diet, even though they are thin enough, especially for young girls. This culture has become a global phenomenon that extents across gender, racial and cultural backgrounds. Undoubtedly, throughout the entire article Bordo believes that Western culture and media have occupied people’s ideology, while spreading an inaccurate and unhealthy idea of what is considered beautiful. In conclusion, the author gradually delves into the issue of eating disorders, starting from the example of the two girls to the description of a global wide problem.
This technique helps readers realize the seriousness of the problem. On the surface, it seems that the author just mentioned the problem of eating disorders. In fact, it is more than that. Eating disorder is just a display of the dominant culture. This is a trend– everyone is affected by the dominant culture, but no one can explain why. It seems as if it is natural. However, the author does not offer a solution to this global trend. Rather she is suggesting us to pay more attention to the dominant culture around us so as to educate our children to be aware of this issue (Susan Bordo, 816).