Saturday, November 8, 2008

Weight loss campaign, was it well planned?

In Mexico, for months one of the most important networks in this country, Televisa, and the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), who is in charge of health and social security issues, tried to promote a weight loss campaign among Mexicans.
But somehow I found this effort incomplete and a little misguided. They wanted you to eat better, to do exercise, and the goal seems to be THINNER, instead of be HEALTHY.
I don't know if this approach is good or not.  First of all, Televisa has very bad examples of actresses doing anything to be thin, to the extreme that some of them have suffered bulimia -Anahí, one singer from RBD-, anorexia or have done extreme aesthetic surgeries -Thalía, who many says underwent a surgery to take off two ribs to have a smaller waist-. This happens because the network wants them to look thin in TV. It gets worse when you consider it's a common belief that you look 10 pounds heavier on screen, so they are almost skeletons with skin.

On the other hand, in the campaign they show negative images of overweight or obese persons. I don't think this is necessary, particularly since it makes discrimination against them almost justified (if some people almost seems this people as a offense, now they discriminate more). Besides, it's not clear if obesity is caused by bad habits or for a genetic condition. How do they know if someone's genes causes him/her to be overweight or obese? In those cases, what do you do, tell genes that the world thinks 'thinner is better', so they should adjust?

Besides, I believe when you do a campaign asking someone to be thinner they don't take in account many situations. Sometimes loosing weight to be thin can turn into an obsession, in a race against our own natural body, in looking images in magazines and think those are acceptable kind of bodies (when not everyone can have certain weight or body type).

I think those campaigns should focus more in being healthy and eating well than in having one type of image, particularly if this is an unreal one. In magazines almost every celebrity is at least air brushed, some times with hilarious results (this image appeared in the blog The Great Fitness Experiment):

The same people who erases a thigh can easily make perfect bodies out of normal ones, with flaws as any woman.

At last, I think it's not very sensitive to ask people who works more than 12 hours a day, commutes 3 to 6 hours and sleeps 5 hours because they have to in order to obtain a salary that they need to find time to do exercise. Or women who takes care of their houses and their kids all by themselves and go to sleep past midnight. Or people with business that are struggling to keep their clients and that must work all day long. And many more examples in this economic crisis.

And this without thinking that some can barely buy food, and think in buying healthier is not a choice, just buying the most they can with a little salary.

I don't say it is impossible, but if they ask people to do such an effort they should give help them more to achieve this goal, for instance, giving mothers free time in the government day care centers, encourage employers to allow employees to have one free hour to do exercise, inform where people can buy healthy and cheap food, create free exercise programs in various facilities, not only for people registered in IMSS, but for everyone. That I think it would be something better than this thing they are doing now.

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