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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). An estimated 6.6 Million people tuned in to
watch the 2015 fashion show, of course me being one of them (Adams). 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 us 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 effect 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. According

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to Daniel Clay, Vivian Vignoles, and Helga Dittmar, authors of the article, “Among
Adolescent Girls: Testing the Influence of Sociocultural Factors”, a study in the U.K. of

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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. Although this study is just proving my point I do not need it to know this

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information to know that it is true. I am proof myself, because I am influenced by
magazines and media on how I should look. Even though teenage girls are not the only

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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,

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curves and acne (Clay, Vignoles, Dittmar). Body image is a central to adolescent girls’

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self-definition because they have been socialized to believe that appearance is an

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Vignoles, and Helga Dittmar, authors of the
article, Among Adolescent Girls: Testing the
Influence of Sociocultural Factors,

important basis for self-approval and the approval of others. This is one of the worst parts
about all of this is that we are the ones causing the problem and yet we are not fixing it. If

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society wouldn’t raise children to think that the way you look is who you are then we
wouldn’t be having this problem in the first place. 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,
Vignoles, Dittmar). During puberty, most girls' bodies need to gain, on average, 10

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inches and 40-50 pounds, including more body fat (Friedman). This surprised me a lot

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because I remember between the eighth and ninth grade I gained ten pounds and I was so
confused as to why. 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. I wish a lot of girls knew that this weight gain was natural because I didn’t so I
began thinking it was because I wasn’t exercising enough when the truth is I was
probably exercising too much. 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, Vignoles, Dittmar). One symptom of the eating disorder Anorexia
Nervosa is over exercising and it can be very dangerous to your health (Mair). Teenage
girls are at a very fragile stage in their life, I remember being in that stage. People can be
mean and if someone calls you fat you are most likely going to believe it at the time.
Nobody deserves to feel bad about their body because someone else doesn’t think they
meet a certain standard. It is important to not only make girls realize that their body
doesn’t define them but to encourage girls to encourage one another. One of the biggest
problems in society today is the fact that girls have turned against each other and started
seeing each other as competition. So we not only need to raise self acceptance but in
order to beat this we need to make girls realize they need to lift each other up not tear
each other down.
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 as
well (“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”). Boys have this thing where they think it’s too manly to care about your
weight or to diet but they are still concerned about it. Those who were concerned were

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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). This is also one of the biggest problems in body image,

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Most of the time people are not worried if they are healthy or not they just want to be
skinny or muscular and fit. So when they start worrying about their diet it is not to
become healthy it is to lose weight. 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 (“Body Image and Dieting”). I found this very interesting because I
had never thought about it but boys do initially want to gain more weight rather than lose
it, which is very opposite of girls.
Although the influence for women’s ideal body has not lightened this article states

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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”).
When you think about dieting most of the time men are not the first people that come into
mind. This number seems high to me because you don’t typically hear of men dieting.
Media is constantly portraying shirtless men with muscular arms and six pack abs. Men’s
bodies are not good enough anymore either (Cruz). 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 (“Body Image Men”). Recently the company Barbie Doll has
introduced their new line of “realistic” Barbies. People have been complaining for years
about how the Barbie portrays unrealistic standards for little girls but never once have

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you heard someone pointing out that the G.I. Joe doll is. People tend to not bother
because it is not a girl’s toy, but girls aren’t the only ones being affected anymore. This
gives boys an unrealistic ideal to live up to too (“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). Why should middle school boys even want to bulk

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up? They will get there eventually and if not then it’s okay. Every boy goes through his
wimpy, string bean stage in middle school and it’s important to let them know that.
Parents and teachers tend to not feel as focused on boys because they assume things such
as how their bodies look doesn’t affect them, but according to newer research 1 in 4

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males have eating disorders or 3.6 million males (“Body Image and Diets”). Many

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assume eating disorders only target females but this shows that is not always the case. We
need to pay attention to how much media is influencing boys just as much as we do girls.
Although you typically find that 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 ties into a whole new world about
feminism, or the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and

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economic equality to men. Women shouldn’t feel the need to look good for a man in
order to feel confidence and power. Your confidence and how you look should be for
yourself not anyone else, but that’s not how it is so this led to women “fixing” themselves

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to get the feeling of power that they think comes from being skinny (Mair). They begin to

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go on diets, get plastic surgery, dye their hair, wear more makeup, whatever makes them
feel more beautiful or more so closer to what society considers beautiful. 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”). This is how a lot of eating disorders begin and it
is very sad. It is literally a disease to be skin and bones and look in the mirror and see
someone you would define as over weight. Just because you are not tone and sculpted
doesn’t mean that you are over weight. Girls need to understand this but if they want to
be tone and sculpted then you also need to preach a healthy mindset as well. That is
making sure that they are doing it for the right reasons, to be fit and healthy, not to
impress others.
Worries about being fat do not just affect those who develop eating disorders. In

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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. That is

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literally insane. Think of all the things you can accomplish and women would rather lose
fifteen pounds than achieve them. That is absolutely crazy to me, but this led to an up rise

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in the dieting industry, producing around 33 billion dollars a year in different dieting
techniques (Mair). Mary Evans Young, founder of No Diet Day, a day to celebrate body

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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). I know I have tried to diet and it
never works. The thing that usually gets people is that they try and start right then and cut
off their eating majorly on the first day, so by then end of the day they are starving and
tend to eat whatever is in sight, meaning they never really make any progress. The diet

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industry has created the problem of making women feel the need to diet (Mair). They
almost make dieting seem glamorous by portraying beautiful, thin women eating salads
and being overly happy. The problem with this is that most women using these diet plans

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are not considered overweight at all (Mair). Dieting has been proven to alter your

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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). Women’s worry with food is linked to the

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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). This is very annoying because, first of all, women are not

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objects in the first place so they shouldn’t be treated like one. Throughout all of history
women have been judged based on their body, not who they are. Your body shouldn’t be
what defines you, that is just ridiculous. Once women and society realize that what makes
you powerful in a company is your personality and drive, not how you look, things will
be a lot more successful.
According to The New York Times, someone living in a city sees up to 5,000 ads

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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

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Haglund, founder of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, an organization providing care and

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financial support for those with eating disorders, 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. We tend to focus a lot on the fact
that the models are making others feel bad, we never stop to think how much pressure
they are under to feel skinny. 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). All we

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ever discuss is it is not healthy to have such skinny models portraying what beauty looks
like but someone is forcing them to be that skinny as well. It is not healthy for them to
have to feel like in order to keep a job they have to be a size 00. This is leading a lot of
them to develop eating disorders just to keep their job. A study indicates that as many as
40% of models may currently be suffering from some kind of eating disorder (Nordqvist).

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That is almost half. Half of the models we see in magazines, on billboards, or on T.V.,
are suffering from an eating disorder and that is not okay. It is important that we change
societies view of beautiful not only for the viewers sake but for the models and
actresses/actors as well.
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,

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dizziness, malnutrition, and excessive exercising. There are 3.5 million women in just
Britain who suffer from some form of an eating disorder (Mair). Three and half million.
In just Britain. Why do we never hear about eating disorders? This is a serious self

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harming disease and I feel like I have to do my own research just to even know what they
are. That is ridiculous. 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 that made themselves throw up to control their weight, bulimia, had

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risen from zero to more than 11 percent (Barclay). If you ever hear that media doesn’t

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influence our perspective on ourselves, you are wrong because this is proof right here.
After watching television the amount of self-hate and disgust for ones body had more
than doubled in just a year. They didn’t like their bodies so much that after they ate they
made themselves throw up. I am not saying that it didn’t happen without the television
but without the television they would have not have had such a strong influence of
society’s version of perfect. So media has a huge negative impact on how people see
It is important for people for people to realize that the way you look is not
everything. “What we need to know about beauty in society is that it changes overtime.

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Today’s thin appearance was once considered the not so ideal body. In the 1900’s a

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curvier body was much more “womanly” than an extremely thin woman we see today.
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 she says that

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once in a panel, a well-known fashion designer stated that part of the reason the industry

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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). It is important to not get

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down on yourself for how you look because like Haglund stated, it might be different in a
few years. Just like fashion styles it may evolve as time goes on. It is also important for
the fashion industry to make it known that just because you are not skinny doesn’t mean
that you are not beautiful, even if it cant be done on the runway.
I want girls, boys, women, men, everyone to realize that media does not uphold

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the perfect standard of beauty. The ideal body also changes in different cultures. Our
overweight may very well be another culture’s beautiful, a sign of wealth and prosperity

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(Haglund). It’s important to realize that you’re size does not measure your self worth.

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Being a healthy weight does not make you powerless. Not having giant muscles does not
make you any less of a man. 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.
Confidence is way sexier than being insecure. Do not talk badly of yourself and point out
the negative things. Find the part of you that you absolutely love and accentuate that part,
draw attention to it, be proud of it. It will boost your self-confidence. Find people that are
going to build you up not tear you down and thrive off of them. Stop talking about what
your body can’t do and start doing the things it can. Ignore what media is saying is
beautiful because if you do eventually they are going to realize that no one cares about
how skinny you are as long as you are healthy. I think media is already realizing this
because I am seeing more plus sized models in magazines. Media does have influence on
how you perceive yourself but so do you. So don’t waste your time on everything

negative and start thinking positive.

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this and I have noticed more and more plus
size models.


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Works Cited


Adams, Chanel. "Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2015: Worst Year In Ratings." The Inquisitr
News. The Inquisitr News, 9 Dec. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.
"Practice Guidelines for Eating Disorders." American Journal of Psychiatry, 150(2) (1993) pp.

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212-228. Web. A.P.A.
Barclay, R. Sam. "Do Photos of Thin Models Really Cause Eating Disorders?" Healthlines
News. Healthline Media, 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
"Body Image and Diets." Better Health Channel. State of Victoria 2015, n.d. Web. 9 Apr.
"Body Image Men." Mirror Mirror Eating Disorder., 2016. Web. 9
Apr. 2016.
Clay, Daniel, Vivian L. Vignoles, and Helga Dittmar. “Body Image and Self-Esteem.
Among Adolescent Girls: Testing the Influence of Sociocultural Factors.” Journal of
Research On Adolescence. 15(4). (2005):451-477. Web. 29 Feb. 2016
Cruz, Jamie. "Body-Image Pressure Increasingly Affects Boys." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media
Company, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
Friedman, Sandra Susan. When Girls Feel Fat: Helping Girls Through Adolescence. Firefly
Books, 2000.
Haglund, Kirsten. “The Modeling Industry and Body Image.” Eating Disorder Hope. 20 May.
2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.
Mair, Avril. “How the Fashion Industry Affects the Bodies of Young Women.” ID. 20 Nov.
2013. 2 Mar. 2016.

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Nordqvist, Christian. "Eating Disorders Among Fashion." Medical News Today. MediLexicon
International, 8 July 2007. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
Robehmed, Natalie. "The Business of The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show." Forbes. 8 Dec.
2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

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