You can read Part 1 here.
With such a long history of distorted images of what it is to be beautiful, it’s understandable that we have an even longer road to resolve it.
These stereotypes are generating more than just psychological issues for women of all ages.
Lynne Featherstone an equalities minister is seeking to do just that starting with the use of a Kitemark, or a label on airbrushed images to warn viewers that they are not real. She states the airbrushing contributes to “the dreadful pressure young girls and women come under to conform to completely unachievable body stereotypes.” These stereotypes are generating more than just psychological issues for women of all ages; they also can result in eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, where one barely consumes food; bulimia nervosa which consists of purging any foods consumed; as well as binge eating and exercise obsession.
What is Normal?
It is not uncommon for models and celebrities who rely on their bodies to make their living, to use drugs and or cosmetic surgery to curb their appetites and prevent weight gain. All of the concerns aforementioned are contributing to a loss of unique identity, as well as serious health problems and death.
Martin refers back to women in history and the entertainment industry, when curves were once considered beautiful as opposed to the starved look that now encompasses the fashion industry.
In Courtney Martin’s article The Famine Mystique, she has an alarming claim that “eating disorders are the famine mystique of my generation.” Mystique is the most appropriate word as it depicts something that you cannot understand. That is exactly the problem- it is difficult for women to understand why they can’t look a certain way and commit to looking like someone that they believe are pretty or skinny. Martin refers back to women in history and the entertainment industry, when curves were once considered beautiful as opposed to the starved look that now encompasses the fashion industry. However, in 2003 Teen magazine ran an article that stated 35% of girls 6 to 12 years old, which is a most pivotal time for young women, have been on at least one diet. 50-70% of normal weight girls believe they are overweight. It is quite terrifying because fashion figures are illusions that were never meant to be real. It is actually a fantasy figure that the clothes are meant to hang-on with perfection.
Many industry professionals disagree with the idea that these models are too thin, or that they have contributed to an unhealthy image for young girls. Their response is that not all skinny people are malnourished, that many are younger models “who have not received their curves,” this is according to Cindi Leive editor in chief of Glamour Magazine.
Other opposing factors are the women chosen to model are used because they are “anomalies of nature,” and that they are considered beautiful because they are different looking than the average woman. Isn’t that what “normal” people want anyways- to be different and to stand out for something considered beautiful? The opposing views conclude that most thin people are not starving themselves or practicing dangerous habits to be skinny.
Impact on Kids
It is vital that children be exposed to positive images and stay active.
On the flip side, thin people can often assume they are healthy and don’t need to be careful, because they weigh a certain amount when in reality they can be predisposed to heart disease and other illness because of neglecting to eat right and exercise. First Lady Michelle Obama is one that is trying to curb unhealthy eating habits and promote exercise for young children with her program Let’s Move, targeted at preventing or ridding of childhood obesity. It is vital that children be exposed to positive images and stay active –away from the brainwashing on television and video games, and start molding a new more realistic aspiration. An aspiration that embraces the reality of curves, and different sizes.
Today girls and young women should be able to see beautiful confident women with all of their glorious curves on billboards, in magazines, and on television. It may be true that a majority of thin people are not practicing unhealthy lifestyles; however, it is not the majority of people that are influencing the minds of girls and women everywhere. It is the model, the actress, and the performers that dress their waif-like figures in scant clothing that are dangerous. It is the entertainment and fashion industries irresponsible and narrow acceptance of this thin only standard that has caused harm.
It is time for the fashion industry to accept responsibility for their promotion and glorification of models that convey an unrealistic standard and damage the self esteem of millions of women. When ONLY one type of model/body image is showcased, their glorified images are emblazoned in our minds and affect our decision of what looks right or wrong.
If this were not the case we would not have a need for the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) to release Model Health Guidelines for fashion week, which ban models that are unhealthy looking. There would be no need to alter sizes on garments and women wont fool themselves into feeling better that they bought a garment marked size 4 that may be a true size 8. If the fashion and entertainment industry were more accepting of realistic body images, we would have a healthier mindset for women and young girls and maybe even a few more actresses!