Last week I came across a fascinating post on Retronaut with pictures of weight-related ads from decades past. What caught my attention in particular is that, in contrast to any ad we see today, the ads in these magazines were all promising weight gain, rather than weight loss. It’s not hugely surprising, since our views of the “ideal” body weight have changed dramatically over time. For example, a high body weight was traditionally associated with wealth and prestige, which even led to the creation of ‘Fat Man’s Clubs‘, which Peter has described in the past.
Even today, a low body weight is looked down upon in many developing countries. For more on that, take a listen to the below interview with Kenyan obesity researcher Vincent Onywera, who explains that he is considered by some to be a bad parent for having lean children.
It’s pretty obvious that we’ve swung way too far in the other direction in North America in recent decades. But it’s always interesting to have a reminder of how the “ideal” body weight really is a social construct, rather than an objective one.