The role that medications have in the United States is large. We use medicine to fix our problems, even if those problems don’t necessarily need to be medicated to solve. Medicalization and biomedicalization have assisted in creating a culture where taking medicine is not just about getting “better”; it’s about being more than better. While medicalization was focused on the absence of disease (and treating disease with the assistance of medicine), biomedicalization was about medicine increasing the body’s efficiency. The processes of medicalization and biomedicalization have changed how we view our health, wellbeing and success. While medicalization provided us with a way to be able to perform if we couldn’t (if we were sick, taking medicine would make us feel better), biomedicalization allowed us not only to perform, but to perform at more efficient and effective rate. With capitalism, our worth is always tied to our productivity. And our productivity is at a disadvantage if our health is not up to par – so for there to be success, not only do we need to be healthy, we need to better than healthy. There was this advertisement in Ann Arbor recently from a plastic surgery clinic that stated “Friends don’t let friends muffin top.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a “muffin top” so to have this advertisement out there saying that if you have a “muffin top” you should get surgery to rectify that is just terrible. Thankfully, some individuals ameliorated that advertisement by crossing out that statement and adding a “You’re beautiful” instead.  Because of biomedicalization and our consumer culture, our health decisions are now also informed by celebrities. Tazin Karim describes this process as the commodification of celebrity health – “That is, how the (perceived) health, medical expertise, and treatment decisions of a celebrity can become a commodity which embodies larger social relationships between the public, healthcare providers, and the pharmaceutical industry.”

I decided to look at insomnia and the drug Lunesta, which helps one sleep. Click here to view the commercial.

This video implies that falling asleep is an easy process – that one can just sleep without having any issues whatsoever. Furthermore, it also implies that sleeping for eight hours is standard and necessary. In terms of social roles, it reaffirms that we need sleep to be productive. Its use of the green butterfly almost seems angelic to me – the butterfly wings remind me of angel wings. And the moment the butterfly reached the individual, it was instant relief. The commercial itself is also very soothing – probably to emphasize the soothing nature of Lunesta.


Karim, Tazin. “The Commodification of Celebrity Health.” Anthropologies. Anthropologies, 15 Mar. 2013. Web. July 2014.

“Lunesta (eszopiclone) Sleeping Pill Commercial Ad – USA (real One).” YouTube. Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, 3 Feb. 2012. Web. July 2014.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Adam Feuerstein says:

    In today’s fast paced western society, it is recommended that we get 8 hours of sleep to have a body ready to function for the day ahead of us. Due to this, it has recently become an illness to have a lack of sleep. In the commercial for Lunesta, it appears as through the only reason people would be taking this medication is to help them sleep a full night. The people they are advertising to are not those who suffer from any other illness other than lack of sleep. I think this lack of sleep condition in the time period where my parents were children would not be so easily treated with pharmaceuticals. I think people would attribute their lack of sleep due to lot of things on their mind or another life style factor that is keeping them awake at night. People seek to find answers as to why they are not normal, and these commercials are providing them answers to a diagnosis. Now that we have medication to help a person fall asleep, they have become much more popular and people are given sleep aid on a pretty regular basis. This pill does still need a prescription from a doctor but the calm soothing tone of the commercial during the side effects make the pill seem relatively harmless. This seems similar to the article by Conrad, to me one of the underlying facts is that the disease is not new, but the readiness to prescribe something is. Although some illness has been around for years, many are now simply being treated more due to their acceptance by doctors and individuals. This is seen with the amount of adults with hyperactive disorder. I personally do not see the need for some of these medications because we can function without them. However, in the new biomedicalization culture, the ideas of pharmaceuticals first is apparent so that we may be better than average.

    Peter Conrad and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47 (2000): 559-582, Accessed July 31, 2014.

Leave a Reply