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Morgan  Snow    

Professor  Malcolm  Campbell  
UWRT  1103  
April  9th,  2016    
EveryBODY  is  Beautiful  
In December of every year I gather my friends, pop popcorn, get chips, and pour
drinks, so that we can all sit down to watch the world’s most watched fashion show, the
Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (Robemed, Natalie). An estimated 6.6 Million people
tuned in to watch the 2015 fashion show, of course me being one of them (Adams,
Chanel). If you don’t know what the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is, it is basically
models dressed up in lingerie from the store, Victoria’s Secret. Usually a few well known
singers will perform during the show as well. We are all very excited as the show begins
to start but not even 10 minutes into the show we are already complaining about how
much we hate our selves or more so, our bodies. All of the models are tall, thin, and have
legs that go on for miles. By the time we are 30 minutes into the show the food we had
been eating at the start has been pushed away, basically out of site, for fear that just
looking at it will make me gain 5 pounds. This cannot be good for mental or physical
health. The body image, which is how you think and feel about your body, that not just
this show, but all media in general, portrays makes you feel like that’s what you need to
look like in order to be beautiful (“Body Image and Diets”). So how much of an affect
does media have on the way you look at yourself and is it causing an up rise in eating
disorders?

With this day in age media is everywhere. Almost everyone above the age of 13
has a cell phone and if they don’t they have easy access to a computer or TV. A study in
the U.K. of girls ages 11-16 demonstrated that when experimentally exposed to
abnormally thin women, or the average-size magazine model, their body satisfaction and
self-esteem lowered (Clay, Daniel). Although teenage girls are not the only ones being
targeted by this, it is important to realize how serious it is for them because of the stage
of life they are in. Adolescence is an important time for forming views about one-self,
along with that they are going through changes brought on by puberty such as, curves and
acne (Clay, Daniel). According to Daniel Clay, Vivian Vignoles, and Helga Dittmar,
authors of the article, Among Adolescent Girls: Testing the Influence of Sociocultural
Factors, body image is a central to adolescent girls’ self-definition, because they have
been socialized to believe that appearance is an important basis for self-approval and the
approval of others. It has been worse for girls growing up in today’s society because
media has not just emphasized that self worth should be based on appearance but they
make the ideal level of beauty almost unattainable (Clay, Daniel). During puberty, most
girls' bodies need to gain, on average, 10 inches and 40-50 pounds, including more body
fat (Friedman, Sandra Susan). A study of 12-15 year old girls has confirmed that they
associate the bodily changes mentioned before with eating and weight instead of it just
being naturally occurring. So this time in their life is essentially bringing them further
away from the media’s standards of female beauty. The authors of the article also state
that when girls are exploited to the thin models it gives rise to symptoms of eating
disorders (Clay, Daniel).

Girls are not the only ones who are being influenced on how their bodies should
look. When males are exposed to unrealistic body standards their body image suffers
(“Body Image Men”). A new study published in the January issue of JAMA Pediatrics,
discovers that nearly 18% of boys are highly concerned about their weight and 23% of
men who are in a healthy weight range think they are overweight (“Body Image and
Diet”). Those who were concerned were more likely to become depressed and were more
vulnerable to substance abuse. A doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital, Alison Field, says
that you want people to be concerned about their weight enough to be healthy, not to take
whatever means it is to achieve their desired physique (qtd. in Cruz, Jamie). The
difference between girls and boys when it comes to weight concern is that girls want to
be thinner; boys want more muscle mass, meaning gaining more weight. Although the
influence for women’s ideal body has not lightened this article states that the playing
field has leveled when it comes to the influence media has on males. According to a
study 17% of males have started dieting (“Body Image and Dieting”). Media is constantly
portraying shirtless men with muscular arms and six pack abs. Men’s bodies are not good
enough anymore either (Cruz, Jamie). Even toys are contributing to the influence now.
Little boys that play with GI Joe figures are being affected; a GI Joe toy, if made into
human size, would be taller than the average man and have bigger biceps than any body
builder. This gives boys an unrealistic ideal to live up to (“Body Image Men”).  All of this
is leading to males searching out ways to bulk up. A 2012 study revealed that both
middle and high school boys are influenced to gain muscle. More than a third reported
using protein powders and shakes to boost muscle mass and 10.5 percent admitted to
using muscle-enhancing substances (Cruz, Jamie). Along with that according to newer

research 1 in 4 males have eating disorders or 2.4 and 3.6 million males (“Body Image
and Diets”). Many assume eating disorders only target females but this shows that is not
always the case.
Although teenagers are mainly the ones being affected by this problem they are
not the only ones. During the past decade eating disorders rose to an all time high as
women rose in the power structure. Feeling fat has often been a metaphor for feeling
powerless for women. This led to women “fixing” themselves to get the feeling of power
that they think comes from being skinny (Mair, Avril). Forty-five percent of women who
are at a healthy weight range consider themselves overweight and at least twenty percent
of women who are underweight think they need to lose weight and so they diet (“Body
Image and Diets”). But worries about being skinny do not just affect those who develop
eating disorders, in a survey held by Glamour Magazine in 1984, it was determined that
33,000 American women would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds than achieve any other
goal. This led to an up rise in the dieting industry, producing around 33 billion dollars a
year in different dieting techniques (Mair, Avril). Mary Evans Young, founder of No Diet
Day, a day to celebrate body appreciation, states that 90% of women and girls will diet at
some point in their lives and for the majority of them it will not work (qtd. in Mair,
Avril). The diet industry has created the problem of making women feel the need to diet.
The problem with this is that most women using these diet plans are not considered
overweight at all (Mair, Avril). Dieting has been proven to alter your physical and mental
health. It causes problems like binge eating, purging (vomiting), not getting enough
nutrients, and the development of eating disorders (“Body Image and Diets”). So why do
women still continue to do it? Susie Orbach, author of Fat Is A Feminist Issue, states that

most women do not diet for their health but because they are threatened by media images
(qtd. in Avril, Mair). Women’s worry with food is linked to the obsession of the female
form. From mythology, to Renaissance art, to modern advertising, the body has been seen
as an object of beauty. Therefore women are always engaged in how their bodies should
look based on the bodies that the media, TV, films, magazines, and billboards, say they
should have because in the eyes of women that is the idea of beautiful (Avril, Mair).
According to The New York Times, someone living in a city sees up to 5,000 ads
per day. Of course most of the ads feature skinny models used to sell products. This ultra
thin standard is only naturally occurring in 1% of our population (Haglund, Kirsten).
Kirsten Haglund, eating disorders advocate, says that it is important to recognize the
changing in body ideals is not just about the women and men who are feeling targeted but
for the health and well being of the models themselves. In many European countries they
are recognizing the problems of eating disorders and are enforcing healthy body mass
index for the models, as well as supplying them with food and water backstage at shows
(Haglund, Kirsten). A study indicates that as many as 40% of models may currently be
suffering from some kind of eating disorder (Nordqvist, Christian).
So does media really affect eating disorders? Two of the most known eating
disorders are Bulimia, meaning, eating however much you want and then forcing yourself
to throw it back up, and Anorexia Nervosa, self-starvation. This disease causes a lot of
physical problems such as, tooth decay, acne, Hemoptysis, the coughing up of blood,
dizziness, malnutrition, and excessive exercising. There are 3.5 million women in just
Britain who suffer from some form of an eating disorder (Mair, Avril). When Anne
Becker, the Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at

Harvard Medical School, first arrived in Nadroga, Fiji, in 1995, Anorexia wasn’t very
common at all. But also arriving in Nadroga in 1995 was public broadcasting. By 1998,
more than 97 percent of the population reported they watched at least some television. On
the island, Becker noticed that negative attitudes toward body image and eating had more
than doubled in those three years. The percentage of teens who made themselves throw
up to control their weight, bulimia, had risen from zero to more than 11 percent (Barclay,
R. Sam).
It is important for people for people to realize that the way you look is not
everything. “We need to know about beauty in society is that it changes overtime.
Today’s thin appearance was once considered the not so ideal body. In the 1990’s a
curvier body was much more “womanly” than an extremely thin woman. Whatever the
body type that is ideal today could be totally different in five years.” Haglund states in,
The Modeling Industry and Body Image. Along with that that she says that once in a
panel, a well-known fashion designer stated that part of the reason the industry prefers
women to be so thin is because the material needed to make the clothing is very
expensive and it costs less to clothe a thinner person (Haglund, Kirsten). I want girls,
boys, women, men, everyone to realize that media does not uphold the perfect standard of
beauty. The ideal body also changes in different cultures. Our overweight may very well
be their beautiful, a sign of wealth and prosperity (Haglund, Kirsten). It’s important to
realize that you’re size does not measure your self worth. As long as you are happy and
healthy, it shouldn’t matter how you look. Media influences their consumers too much
and the only way of fixing that is owning who you are and being proud and confident, the
rest will fix itself. Stores are slowly starting to realize this and I have noticed more and

more plus size models.

WORKS CITED
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