Contemporary Western cultures celebrate the slender female body and a muscular male physique. While prevalent today, these ideals have not always been in vogue. For example, by today's standards, the voluptuous female nudes painted by 17th-century painter Peter Paul Rubens or the 1950s cultural icon Marilyn Monroe would be labeled “overweight.” Today, these hegemonic beauty ideals work hand-in-hand with health discourses to promote weight loss. Cultural ideals dictate that it is unattractive to be “fat” and health discourses label “overweight” and “obesity” unhealthy medical risks.

Given these seemingly ubiquitous ideals about beauty and health, it is not surprising that weight-loss practices are prevalent. On a global scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern that more than 1 billion adults are overweight, with at least ...

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