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Old 6th March 2011   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 175
Default Students denouncing anorexic media standards

I read with dismay Tamika's very revealing and important recent post the other day, about how one of her school peers was brainwashed into idolizing the anorexic appearance of emaciated fashion models. It's disturbing to hear a first-hand account of a young woman seeing such ill-looking, corpse-like models and wanting to emulate them.

Fortunately, however, I'm also seeing evidence that some girls in high school and college are rejecting the media's toxic standards.

Here's a remarkably perceptive article written by a high-school student for her school newspaper.

She makes some very important points, and I hope that her peers read her article. She questions her fellow students if they actually need to starve and torture themselves, as they've been led to believe. She also commendably recognizes the promotion of a malnourished appearance as nothing but a racket that's designed to sell women products by making them resent their naturally full-figured appearance:

The dieting industry alone generates 40 billion dollars per year in America. You will be shocked to learn that 86% of teenage girls in 2000 are either on a diet of believe that they should be. Imagine this statistic now, 10 years later, with girls who have been exposed to images of unhealthy looking women more often, and for longer. It’s not just the teenagers, its the pre-teens as well.

What these girls don’t realise is that being extremely thin is not what makes them beautiful, but it’s what sells products to the companies in this market.

And in an example of journalistic maturity, she asks and answers the question of whether these poisonous media images really do ruin body image. First, she cites the example of the Fijian culture, which was free of eating disorders until the Western media was introduced:

The Fijian culture has always been that curvaceous women were beautiful, but after westernized television programs were introduced we begin to see this reoccurring connection between the media and eating disorders. Three years later, the eating disorders in girls on the island rose to 15%. A surprising follow-up study reported 74% of Fijian girls feeling "too f** or big" and 62% had dieted in the last month

Better still, the young reporter did some investigation of her own and surveyed her peer group:

I surveyed a range of teenage girls from 16-18 years old. I asked them, "Have you ever felt to of had low self esteem brought on by the media?" 9 out of 10 surveyed said yes.

It's remarkable to see such clear thinking in a high-school-age girl.

Similarly, here's an article on the same topic for a college newspaper

This writer also takes pains to prove that media images do ruin girls' body image. Neither she, nor the high-school reporter, simply take these things as self-evident, but they go the extra mile to back up the truth of their assertions, lending their work credibility.

Before you argue that the ads in the magazines with these skinny, "beautiful" women do not really affect girls, look at the statistics.

According to a 2008 article on, "Sixty-nine percent of girls said that magazine models influence their idea of the perfect body shape, and the pervasive acceptance of this unrealistic body type creates an impractical standard for the majority of women."

Here's a point in the article that I really liked. The writer debunks the idea that emaciated models are effective at selling fashion, pointing out that, if anything, such cadaverous images push women to spend their money on things other than clothing. This is why the plus-size industry should always use truly full-figured models, not the faux-plus variety:

The average woman in America is not a size 0, so why do advertisers cover their pages with them?

Models are supposed to show off the products in a way that makes the public want to buy them. Today's advertisements make it more likely for women to invest in diet pills and exercise equipment rather than blue jeans and swimsuits.

Refreshingly, for a girl in a college setting, where feminist indoctrination is rampant, the writer doesn't blame some nonexistent "patriarchy" but instead acknowledges that normal men prefer plus-size female bodies.

The worst part is that many women do not realize that most men actually prefer more curves on a woman.

"In my opinion, girls with curves are much more attractive," said Alex Madl, freshman pre-physical therapy major.

I like the conclusion of the article, with the reporter's firm resolve that the media needs to be changed (not merely that it should change itself, because it never will), as well as the reference to "true beauty," indicating that whatever the fashion industry is pushing today is definitely not truly beautiful.

It is hard to love our average-sized bodies when we have ridiculously skinny women as our models for beauty in every magazine, newspaper and billboard.

The reality is that women are being influenced by these ads, even if you do not think they are. Media is distorting society's conception of true beauty and it needs to be readjusted.

On the one hand, the fashion industry and the media are more pernicious than ever, and push a standard of appearance that is even more repulsively androgynous and emaciated than ever before. But on the other hand, some girls are recognizing how destructive a force it is and how much damage it has done, and are calling for its reform.

Let's hope that the latter impulse triumphs. If girls at the high school and college age could learn to love their naturally full figures and to eat whatever they like, then this positive self-esteem could sustain them their whole lives and leave them impervious to pro-anorexia propaganda.
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