I chose obesity because it is a significant problem all over the world, but especially in the U.S. It is becoming increasingly biomedicalized within society. The Conrad article states, “Most medicalization studies focus on how nonmedical problems become defined as medical problems, usually as illness or disorders.” This is evident in that obesity is no longer just about being overweight. The condition itself is not considered an illness, but is commonly linked with other concerns such as diabetes, heart problems and other serious health issues. These obvious health issues combined with societies ever growing obsession with being thin (and finding an easy fix to get there) are main reasons why obesity has become so biomedicalized. Add to this the increase in portion sizes and decrease in exercise & general activity that has occurred throughout society over the past decades. Also factoring in that it is far cheaper to eat processed food than healthy, and often times easier, faster, & cheaper to eat fast food. Most people, unless provided with access to fitness & meal plans(typically common among upper class individuals), are thus unable to compete with what society says is normal/healthy and seek the easiest most attainable way of achieving this – because looking like celebrities is seen as healthy and therefore symbolizing wealth (seemingly gives higher socioeconomic status), and vice versa. The fact that insurance companies cover such quick fixes as surgery and diet pills, and that advertisers make a profit off of these ideals & desires cemented in our culture have helped to catapult obesity to its biomedicalized status in society.
Nowadays, there are so many things that one can do to aid in weight loss, from surgeries, to medication, to diets & nutrition supplements. And so many different types of weight loss supplements out there, with so many different celebrity sponsorships, its hard to go five minutes without somehow being bombarded with information on how to loose weight and/or get the perfect body (preferably with minimal work or change in routine). I managed to find a couple advertisements, one from Nutrisystem, the other from Weight Watchers (I know there are many more out there). Both use celebrities, Janet Jackson & Jennifer Hudson (both symbolize strong female role models/idols), as spokespeople, talking about their weight struggles and how they’ve overcome them. This is done to show that even celebrities, seen as perfect, who we idolize are human, and have their imperfections. These imperfections, which they have ‘struggled’ with allows for a connection to the intended audience, suggesting ‘if I can loose weight so can you’. Also, both suggest no need to change eating habits or daily routines, which is key in selling diet aids in our culture, filled with busy & lazy people. Another key point used in both these ads, is that although both women are popular among many, they are both symbols for black women to relate to, expanding audiences, and opening doors for the advertisers to make even more money. Another example of this expansion of audiences are the recent Weight Watchers commercials starring Charles Barkley, relating to & advertising for mens weight loss (even when dressed in drag – http://youtu.be/Vs57GZYHtdM )
These mention nothing of doctor patient interactions, or any other medical information, but are more focused on self improvement. This is to be expected with the way obesity is viewed, particularly in our society. Also with our cultural obsession of thinness, which should ideally be on health instead, no matter what size you may be.