Essay on Obesity and Physical Deviance

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Physical beauty is constructed by the society that we live in. We are socialized from a very young age to aspire to become what our culture deems ideal. Living in the United States, as in many other Western cultures, we are expected to be well-educated, maintain middle-class or upper-class status, be employed as well as maintain a physical standard of beauty. Although beauty is relative to each culture, it is obvious that we as Americans, especially women, are expected to be maintain a youthful appearance, wear cosmetics and fashionable clothes, but most importantly: not to be overweight. Our society is socially constructed to expect certain physical features to be the norm, anything outside this is considered deviant. Obesity is defined…show more content…
“Social groups constitute deviance by making rules whose infractions constitute deviance and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling them as outsiders” (Heckert 35). Those who break these rules are subject to formal and informal sanctions. Formal sanctions could include being barred from such occupations as modeling where there are requirements for weight and height. “Conventional members of society engage in societal reaction or sanctioning which can include possibilities such as explicit disapproval and partial withdrawal or implicit disapproval and partial withdrawal” (Heckert 40). Although there are agencies and clothing stores that cater to those who are “plus-sized” they do not constitute the majority of what we see on television and at our local shopping mall. Another example of a formal sanction that has been publicized by the media is the fact that some airlines require obese patrons to buy an extra seat. “In June (2002) Southwest Airlines began enforcing a longstanding rule of charging extra-large passengers for two seats. One month later, an obese brother and sister threatened to sue after they were denied boarding when they refused to buy extra seats” (DiCarlo). Informal sanctions include being taunted, stared at inappropriately, and even snide comments whether by strangers or friends. These informal sanctions, such as gossiping and taunting are another form of social control, by
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