If you really think about it, as a society Americans seem to be obsessed with body weight. Most people think it's money that makes an economy hum but this morning while I was in the shower, I decided they were all wrong. The shower is where I do my most analytical thinking. I got it from my friend Peter, who used to begin most sentences involving me with "I was thinking about your problem while I was in the shower and you should..." Anyway, money is the vehicle that makes a solid economy run well but concerns about body weight and image is what actually motivates people to pour their hard-earned and not-so-hard-earned money into the economy. For example, say a person dislikes their body weight, maybe they feel they are 20 or so pounds overweight. Should they decide to do something about it the nutrition, vitamin and exercise industries all benefit. This person will pour their cash into GNC, Lucille Roberts, Men's Health magazine, the makers of exercise equipment and clothing, athletic clothing and equipment, Rollerblades... you get my drift.
But even if they choose NOT to do anything about their weight other industries will see an influx of cash. If a woman decides she is overweight but doesn't want to torture herself down a couple sizes through exercise, she will spend large amounts of cash compensating for it. She'll buy overpriced accessories, a new wardrobe, better shoes, higher-quality make-up etc. She'll buy Cosmo magazine to tell her how to get a man without looking like Catherine Zeta Jones (a better looking, younger man than Michael Douglas though), Sun-Ripened Raspberry shower gel from Bath and Body Works so her skin is ultra soft, a convertible Mercedes so she still has a glam image even if she dislikes her body weight. And if it's a woman who doesn't use shopping as therapy then she's a woman who uses food as therapy meaning she'll spend more money at the grocery, restaurants and bars.
Even women with nice bodies pour money into the economy out of FEAR of being FAT. (That's Fat Ass Trailing not Pretty Hot And Tempting). They spend money on vitamins, special diet foods and more beauty products so that people will never mistake them for being anything less than hot. And it's so easy to get them to spend more dough...if a guy tells some chic he thinks she's putting on weight, she's going to the mall (after she cuts his tongue out and makes him eat it).
My point is think about how much the economy would suffer if everyone liked their bodies. I know you can make an argument that this phenomenon holds true even for people who are aesthetically-challenged. But I don't think it makes as much of an impact as the personal perception of body weight. Even people with ugly faces get laid if they have nice bodies.
The best part of this all is that it is totally unnecessary. It's all just irrational fear. Everyone knows men will nail anything that walks. And women don't care what a man's body looks like as long as he's:
1. Not obese
2. Bathes regularly
3. Understands the value of a complete sentence
4. Treats her like a goddess
Everything else is just gravy.