Can't Be Too Rich or Too Thin: Desperate Housewives Syndrome Now in Australia
In developed nations, there is an overwhelming focus on the resulting rise in obesity. But little is mentioned about the opposite side of the coin, eating disorders: those who starve themselves (anorexics, binge-purgers-bulimics) those underweight on BMI charts, celebrities or models forced to be rail thin to maintain their jobs and career status, and young women who are obsessed with being a #thinspo woman/girl.
Wealthy women embrace the underweight celebrity/model types and adhere to the motto, "You can never be too rich or to thin," supposedly coined by women who were rich and slender: Wallace Simpson, Babs Paley (former head of CBS Bill Paley's wife, and Gloria Vanderbuilt).
In current trending literature, check out the front covers of novels. Any obese women? From broadcast journalism to films and TV shows, how many overweight and obese women do you see? Ones with a few pounds (broadcasters) are not in big city media hubs like New York or Los Angeles, but may be out west or down south in regional centers. None of them are obese. In films and TV shows how many overweight and obese women are cast as the foil or humorous, "brainy" sidekick? A few.
How many overweight and obese women are the lead, the heroine, the ingenue, the glamorous femme fatale? I can't think of one recently. From Bree Van De Kamp the uptight housewife in Desperate Housewives and her counterparts on the Real Housewives series, you know the drill; you must be BMI underweight (17.5-18.5) and gorgeous.
In America and westernized cultures, there is a sanctity that comes with being slender. Women think men prefer slim women. Women CEOs as few as they are, are rarely overweight and certainly are not obese; women who date and marry the male creme de la creme are slim. The heavy or obese woman gets stuck with the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, etc., best male, regardless of how beautiful she is. Sure she can get a man, a man no one wants or who has "issues, weaknesses, imperfections, problems," that she has to deal with, more like a mommy than a wife. Or the man is less financially well off than she is. Is this a reality? Not necessarily.
Yet it is a perception and the media and culture reinforces it at every turn and has made it a folkway as it has made being "slim," one of the crucial mores for women. If an American woman is very slender she is powerful, dynamic and edgy. Oprah who has attempted very public weight loss and yo-yo dieted for years, failing miserably at each turn has added her own confusion to the tenuous situation of modeling success and thinness.Continued on the next page