Local News: A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Pounds

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My local news reports there’s a big problem with obesity in the U.S. For this report, they included some images of obese people on the street. Actually, they included images of 6 obese women and 1 obese man.

How many times have you seen an editorial choice like this? What exactly are they trying to say? I’m not buying a 1/6 male/female obesity ratio, so this can’t be a representative sample (if they think it is, they should go people watching with me sometime). Are they saying it’s a problem women are more concerned about? Are they saying it’s a problem women should be more concerned about? It was a busy street corner they filmed: I’m sure there were obese people of both genders and every race and physical description. Probably a half hour of tape would have yielded a hundred to choose from. The news station got the footage, and someone purposely included those images, and no others.

So seriously – what is the news station trying to tell us?

More importantly, what does it say about the people sending the message? I’ve always believed my words say more about me than about the subject I’m discussing. I know I can be psychoanalyzed every time I open my mouth (or keyboard) and choose this topic instead of another, this word instead of another, this idea instead of another.

The news station is saying in words that the U.S. has an obesity problem. But in pictures, they’re showing that American women have an obesity problem – oh, yeah, and once in a while, a guy does, too. Are they trying to appeal to women who are worried about their weight, and the weight of their family members? Or are they reinforcing the idea that it’s disgraceful when women let their appearance go, but rarely an issue for men?

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