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Cultural & Social Significance


An obese person, in several different cultures, is associated with strength, fertility and wealth. In the great Indian epic, The Ramayana, the villain Ravana has an obese brother named Kumbhakarna who is a strong man with superior fighting qualities.

Laughing BuddhaThe Laughing Buddha in ancient China is associated with wealth and prosperity. The Venus figurines in western culture are obese females, which indicate fertility and those able to survive famines.

The paintings of Rubens (1577–1640) are plump female figures suggesting fertility and a symbol of social prestige.

Now, an obese individual has unfortunately become a social and cultural outcast. The crude treatment put upon obese people is noticed in the past as well as in the present. An obese is held as somebody with unnatural traits. He or she is often called names. Many times obese people are considered to be lazy and less intelligent.  It is a standard that some members of society have accepted and have unfairly instrumented this falsity into their thinking structure.

In the Shakespearean comedy ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ the obese constable Dogberry is called an ‘Ass’ a ‘Coxcomb’ much to the pleasure of the audience. Nobody takes any offense in maltreatment of an obese.

Oliver HardyThe great western comic character Hardy, in Laurel and Hardy, routinely made fun of his issues surrounding his own obesity. The people crowded the movie halls to see the tantrums of Laurel and burst into roars of laughter.

In today’s figure conscious society, an obese is a cultural outcast. The overweight body of an obese with wide waistline is a butt of ridicule. They are always shown in movies and plays as laughing stocks. In some radical religious beliefs an obese is even held as a person without soul!

The obese are objects of entertainment. In circus, we see jokers and clowns are always short and fat. The obesity of humans has even transformed into animals to get uncensored laughter. Such occurrences are prevalent in cartoon films. Adults and minors are brought together to laugh at the obese creatures.

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