The Fear of Gaining Weight


Abbie Kraus, Staff Writer

The statistics of people who are dissatisfied and even disgusted by their bodies are disheartening to look at.

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According to a 2018 study, 79% of Americans (combining males and females) say they are dissatisfied with their bodies under various circumstances. What is also very interesting is to look at what people say is their “ideal body type”. 54% of males and 43% of females claim that the “perfect body” is one of an athletic build. Of course, being healthy is always something to strive for, but why does this physical representation the most strive for part of being healthy? 


An even more depressing statistic is the percentage of people who genuinely fear gaining weight. It is unknown if this includes participants that may have eating disorders. According to the National Library of Medicine, about 73% of women aged 16-25 and about 45% of men aged 25-55 have a genuine fear of gaining weight.  topless woman


All over the internet, everywhere in real life, in countless advertisements, and on social media, we are indoctrinated with this idea that we need to find every way possible to lose weight. And to add insult to injury, we are always told that gaining weight should be a bad thing, we should avoid eating foods we love, and that we must only wear flattering clothes. To “achieve” this, advertisements will spew horrible restrictive diets and bogus weight-loss pills and techniques that are meant to make us feel more and more uncomfortable in our bodies… for profit?

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But truly, as a society and also as individuals, I think it is important for us to ask ourselves why we have this fear of being in a bigger body. What is “wrong” with gaining weight, having fat on our bodies, being in a bigger body, etc.? Why is this genuinely looked down upon, and a normal conversational topic that we are wanting to “slim down” and always trying to change our bodies to be smaller or bigger in different areas? For what reason is there even an ideal body type in the first place? There are so many more things we should worry about when it comes to our bodies that have nothing to do with our physical appearance, such as our physical and mental well beings, keeping our vitals in check, and regularly getting check-ups to achieve an actual-ideal body. The ideal body is a healthy one that is loved and cared for.


When I learned how the “thinness movement” really began, I was shocked but unfortunately not surprised. Sociology scientist Sabrina Strings wrote a book titled Fearing the Black Body: The Origins of Fatphobia delves into how, in the 19th century, whites wanted to even further isolate themselves from POC and the enslaved. Due to generations of rape and inbreeding, many Europeans ended up being of mixed ethnicity and now needed a “new way” to separate themselves from the enslaved that went further than just skin color. Just like many other things in modern society, the idea of the ideal body stems from white supremacy and racism.woman in black bikini standing beside red wall


It is saddening to think about the drastic number of people that will spend their lives striving for something that they have no reason to achieve. Remember that there is nothing wrong with anyone’s body; our bodies are simply what holds our souls, and as cliche, as it sounds, what is inside is all that matters. You will be loved no matter what you look like.