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The tyranny of the body: the pressure to achieve an ideal of beauty


Almost since there is a record of history, because there is data from the ancient Egyptians, human beings have done things to improve our appearance, to improve in the eyes of some, but finally to change the appearance we have, to be more attractive surely, not to be less attractive except for one example. There are tribes and human groups that have stretched their heads with a kind of iron as they are seeing at this moment. There are some Thai tribes who have stretched their necks to the point that if they take it out, they drown.

Others have stretched their lips, but that was so the slaveholders would not take them, apparently because they looked horrible in the eyes of a Westerner. Then came the corsets, for the waist, which caused liver problems, broken ribs, constipation, varicose veins, a number of quite large problems. And also the issue of feet. The Chinese bandaged the feet so that they were small, they made a real mess. Many years ago I saw Chinese women who were elderly but could barely walk.

In the western world, they used those 8 or 10-centimeter stilettos, which also often cause hammer toes, bunions and pain of different kinds. With regard to the silhouette, the thing was changing in history. But it comes from the three graces, which would be girls considered a little overweight, La Gioconda, also overweight. And the fashion was changing until the 60s arrived, with Twiggy, who was a very skinny model that appeared more or less in the time of the Barbie.

And there appeared the madness for thinness and the madness for diets. The Moon diet, if you liked the aerial part, the astronaut’s diet, the Air Force diet. If one liked the natural, vinegar, lemon juice, grapefruit. If one liked the oriental, the diet of Yin and Yan. In short, a number of magical diets that all they do is postpone making decisions about what you want to do and not make the decision and make a serious change.

Fashion was changing until the 1960s, Twiggy, who was a very skinny model that appeared around the time of Barbie. And there appeared the madness for thinness and the madness for diets

Faced with the difficulty involved in losing those extra kilos, “easy” solutions appear to reduce the excess weight and the temptation of false starts arises that promise immediate results, mostly at a high cost to health.

This need that many women and men have to obtain quick and effortless results leads to an abundance of proposals without scientific basis that the only thing that interests them is economic profit. The “magic” treatments can be classified into “natural” products and fad diets..

Among the best known “natural” products are preparations that use formulas that range from plant roots and leaves to powerful drugs. Not only are they unnatural, but they can be potentially dangerous. Among them we can mention: powerful diuretics, laxatives, thyroid, sedatives and anorectics, and in some cases they appear in combination.

Appearances can be deceiving: being skinny does not mean enjoying good health
Appearances can be deceiving: being skinny does not mean enjoying good health

In the case of fad diets, they have no scientific basis to support themselves and promise a quick and effortless solution that can lead to discouragement, rebound and nutritional deficiencies.

Among the most frequent and well-known are those based on the total reduction of carbohydrates, dissociated ones, those rich in carbohydrates, proteins and those with very low calories.

I must admit that there is a magic approach if you want to change your appearance or your diet. The magic moment is the one in which one decides to stop looking for that side and begins to look for a change in earnest.

* Dr. Alberto Cormillot is a renowned Argentine obesity physician, health educator, writer, and lecturer. He founded and directs the Health and Nutrition Clinic that bears his name, Dieta Club, the ALCO Foundation (Anonymous Luchadores Contra la Obesidad) and the Argentine Institute of Nutrition, from where he advises industries for the development of dietary and healthy products.

Realization: Thomas Khazki / Production: Macarena Sánchez

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