Historical and cultural perspectives on obesity and body image in Portugal Chapter uri icon


  • Portuguese adolescents and young people are subject to normative discontentment related to body image perception. This perception is subjective and influenced by several factors including mass media communication or social media messages. To aggravate this situation, we live in a pro-obesogenic era. Advertising for unhealthy food facilitates excess body weight which in turn contributes to body dissatisfaction and to the manifestation of eating disorders. We analyzed the covers of printed magazines from the last 13 months to understand how body image is portrayed in actuality. Of the total magazines, 29% have messages related to beauty culture. Some of them were related to weight or body shape such as “body in shape” (“Corpo em forma”), and “prepare the body for summer” (“prepare o corpo para o verão”). Only 15 (9.4%) of those magazines are assisting the slenderness culture: “Easter without gaining weight” (“Páscoa sem engordar”), “After holidays lose weight” (“depois das férias perder peso”), “do not come back with more weight from holidays” (“não volte com mais peso das férias”), “loose weight for once” (“emagreça de vez”), and “loose x kg in y weeks (“emagreça x kg em y semanas”). From the total of magazines, 8.5% (14 magazines) were identified as having body shaming, inducing that a change was necessary to have a desirable body. Despite these results, excess body weight is still a target of social stigma and bullying at scholarly levels. However, movements of body positivity and TV shows increasing awareness of how stigma affects people suffering from obesity and eating disorders are becoming more common opening space for improvements in the next years, that will undoubtedly need a multidisciplinary integrated approach to succeed.

publication date

  • 2022