Considering the brisk sales of supermarket tabloids and the ever increasing popularity of gossip sites like TMZ.com, it’s evident that Americans are obsessed with body image. To some extent, this could be viewed as a good thing. After all, raising a nation of overweight slobs does little for our self-esteem, let alone our reputation overseas.
But it seems almost too obvious to mention the harmful implications of this nationwide craze. Children and teens in particular face pressure to live up to an unrealistic physical ideal. To speculate that skinny cover models on magazine covers bear some correlation to anorexia and bulimia rates in America wouldn’t be fair, but it wouldn’t be outrageous either.
In what could legitimately be described as a sign of the apocalypse, a French company called Withers has begun marketing a bathroom scale equipped with Twitter capability. Fatties and fitness buffs alike are now – at long last – able to tweet updates about their weight and body mass to followers.
Los Angeles Times tech writer David Colker seems bemused about the product in a recent blog post. Frankly, I’m horrified. I can’t help but question the motive behind such a creation, and the word “self-loathing” comes immediately to mind. This truly is an announcement that warrants an in-depth psychological study – to be conducted on both the inventors and the users of this product.
While I’m all for people finding motivation to maintain a healthy weight and fitness level, that doesn’t seem to be the point. So, is this tool merely intended to provide gossip fodder for the online tabloids? Will Oprah’s tweet about gaining five pounds really generate hits when it’s reprinted in full and snarkily commented upon by Perez Hilton? I’m ruling out that possibility as well.
I’m left to believe that the purpose of a Twitter-ready body scale is to shame people into losing weight. It’s like the popular television show “The Biggest Loser” taken to the extreme. Contestants on that show are obliged to lose weight not necessarily because it will make them healthier and happier. And they don’t take a few inches off the waist to please a spouse or significant other. The true impetus behind the massive weight loss is the feeling that America is watching and – most importantly – JUDGING.
Now regular Joes can share the trials and tribulations of their personal weight-loss journeys with legions of followers online. Still, every cloud has a silver lining. Scale users have the option of selecting which weigh-ins are documented on the Internet.
The other piece of good news? Friends and followers of fitness fanatics can always hit the “unfollow” button, thereby keeping their feeds clear of egregious updates.