The politicization and commercialization of health issues in today’s Western culture have led to growing healthism - a peremptory idea of self - preserving behaviour.
This approach criticizes everything that fails to fit into the glamorous standards of a beautiful, young and slim body. In extreme forms, healthism is close to eugenics, which selects a ‘correct’ heredity.
But even simple concerns about the ‘standards’ of physical condition may provoke hypercorrection, such as surgery on a healthy body, said Evgenia Golman, lecturer at the HSE Faculty of Social Sciences Department of General Sociology, in her article published in theJournal of Social Policy Studies.
Angelina Jolie syndrome has been frequently mentioned in the media recently, implying increased attention to the probability of dangerous diseases. This results not only in the vigilant monitoring of health, but also in possible attempts to prevent even hypothetical diseases, including by means of surgery on a healthy body. The famous case of the actress, who underwent a preventive mastectomy, is symptomatic of this obsession and fits into the healthism concept.
However, Angelina Jolie’s story is an extreme manifestation of the ‘new understanding of health’. More widespread displays of healthism include the boom in diets, fitness, plastic surgery and organic food, as well as the popularity of mobile apps for health monitoring.