The term healthism creates numerous ideas when mentioned with different perceptions of what the word possibly means. In this essay, the writer views this word as used in the contemporary world. The paper also looks at some of the effects the ideology has impacted the society. Healthism by far and wide comes from the word health, which is globally acceptable as the adaptability in one simple word. The body can adapt to the environment when all organs are functioning properly. When a person is free from illness, then he/she is considered healthy. Therefore, healthism is the state of maintaining one’s health state or engaging in activities that lead to good health.
According to Robert Crawford in the 1980’s, he defined healthism as the preoccupation with one’s health being with the primary goal to achieve well-being through lifestyle. He believed that health was an individual responsibility and that lifestyle modification included engaging mainly in exercise activities. It led more people to exercise and to be aggressive in campaigns against smoking. Additionally, healthism is also viewed as a lifestyle that prioritizes health and fitness above anything else. Researchers claim that it can be positive since it ensures one stays healthy and very active. However, if it is advanced to the extreme, it can potentially lead to eating disorders or even an exercise addiction.
A new lifestyle involving diet change and exercise has led people to idealize healthism concerning body image (Henderson, 2012). Therefore, people have strived towards having the ‘ideal body’, which is then becoming an issue, and is no longer viewed as a positive outcome. In the contemporary world, individuals habitually become aware of their self-image and hence increase their quest to feel and look and confident in their body, which equates to a healthy body (Michel, 2012). This in itself is an ideology of healthism. People have signed up for gym classes, which has become a form of income for body fitness trainers. In addition, a diet plan to complement the desired body image is essential to healthism.
The lifestyle change in itself has had positive outcomes. Moreover, more people keep away from illnesses and conditions like obesity. It has also helped in reducing over-dependency on drugs, for example, in type 1 diabetic patients, which in the early stages were asked to exercise and eat well without the need for medication. It is so effective that some have completely become free of diabetes within a year or so, which unlike its counterpart medicine would be a lifetime ordeal.
As illustrated above, the directive health is a personal responsibility and often goes unnoticeable, but undoubtedly conquered by moral overtones (Henderson, 2012). Individuals who engage in healthy lifestyles follow medical prevention guidelines, which include annual cancer screening and routine body checkups and are often made to feel as superiors as compared to those who do not engage in healthy lifestyles. It has a positive effect in that people engage in checkups, which is important. However, disadvantages prevail when the lifestyle is expensive. Therefore, it becomes an affordable lifestyle only for a particular group of people mainly the high and middle socio-economic classes.
In conclusion, it is clear that healthism is a socio-cultural phenomenon, which is characterized by health awareness and expectations people seek for more health information and reflects on oneself as well as lifestyle choices. The idea of lifestyle modification has helped to keep away from illnesses and consequently has led to better health.
Henderson, J. (2012). The Health Culture: What is Healthism?
Michel F. (2012). “Healthism”: A Neoliberal Version of Wellness. Solidarity, II(9), pp. 4-5.