Body Image || The Media and Its Influences

June 16, 2013


Recently i've become more interested in magazines than I ever was. I think this is mainly due to the amount of free time I have in work, so I have nothing else to do but to read them, but i've been more and more aware of just how much the media influences body image, particularly to young people, like me.
A quick Google search on this told me that I wasn't alone.
Not only do magazines photoshop images to make the people in them look "better", almost all magazines only feature skinny models, to the extent that they look skeletal. In the world of fashion, being thin to the extent that they are around 5'10 and under 7 stone  is considered perfect. To many ordinary people, it's their idea of perfect too. This is where the problem is.
According to a survey carried out by "Rader Programs", 81% of ten year old girls are scared of becoming fat. How shocking is this? They are TEN. They should be scared of the dark, not of becoming fat! The article goes on to say that 51% of girls between the ages of 9 and 10 feel better when they are dieting. They're children! They should be eating what they want and enjoying their childhood, they shouldn't even be thinking about dieting. It is the media that is influencing this as girls (and boys!) are constantly seeing images of  very skinny people, but when they look at themselves, they don't see the same. They want to look like these people, even though they aren't realistically like that, because of all the editing that goes on behind the scenes.  Worrying about their body throughout their childhood sets them up for a lifetime of constantly thinking of ways to be "perfect". I should know, as I suffer from having no self confidence what so ever, and  I am writing this about how the media influence people, including me.
Models. Lets be realistic here, how many models do you see that don't have their bones jutting out? Not many. You think that that's perfect? Think again. Read these shocking facts below, taken from an article from Rader Programs.

  • The majority of runway model meet the Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria to be considered anorexic.
  • Vogue magazine stated that they chose Gisele Bunchen as their “model of the year” due, in part, to the fact that she deviates from the typical “rail thin” image. In fact, Gisele weighs only 115 lbs. and is 5’11 – 25% below her ideal weight.
  • At 5’7 and 95 lbs. Kate Moss is 30% below her ideal weight.
  • Fashion models’ weight averaged only 8% less than the average women 20 years ago. Today the average fashion model weighs 23% less than the average woman.
  • 25% of Playboy centerfold models meet the criteria to be considered anorexic.
  • Many magazines create images of women that don’t really exist by using computer-modified compilations of various body parts.
  • Playgirl magazine centerfolds have grown increasingly muscular with less body fat over the last 20 years. However, the average man’s weight and body fat percentage have increased.
  • Miss America contestants have grown increasingly thinner over the past three decades.
  • Plus-sized models averaged between size 12 and 18 only ten years ago. Now, the majority of plus-sized models on agency rosters are between size 6 and 14.
  • Mannequins closely resembled the shape of the average woman in the 1950s; the average mannequin and woman both had the hip measurement of 34 inches. Since then, there has been an increasing disparity between mannequins and the average woman. By 1990 the average hip measurement had increased to 37 inches while mannequins had decreased to 31 inches.
  • Based on their theoretical body-fat percentages, most mannequins would cease to menstruate if they were real women.
  • The average U.S. model weighs 117 lbs and is 5’11 while the average U.S. woman weighs 140 lbs. and is 5’4.
(In addition, not from this website, did you know that the average size for a female in Britain is a size 16?) 

Now tell me you think that all models are perfect. They aren't. They are severely underweight, and they run the risk of becoming seriously ill, and possible killing themselves. Do you really want to be like them? I know I don't. Do you think all of these models are happy? We don't see behind the scenes of the "Beautiful pictures", they starve themselves, and in some extreme cases, they end up losing their lives. In the fashion world, a size 8+ is considered fat. Bare in mind that the average size for a woman in the UK is 14-16. So a size 8 is hardly fat. posted an article up last year, and it really shocked me. Titled "Skinny Minnie and other ways to distort children's body image" meant I was instantly drawn. Presuming it meant Minnie Mouse, the popular children's character, who wasn't what most people would consider skinny, left me intrigued.
The article basically said that now, Minnie Mouse can't be this cuddle short mouse anymore. She has to be 5 foot 11, severely underweight, and for her body to be completely out of proportion. It's ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Take a look at the change below. 

If this doesn't highlight the extent of influence that the media has, then I don't know what will. I am so annoyed by this.
Another prime example is popular children's toy, Barbie's. I had multiple when I was young, and I used to think that they were the best and most beautiful things ever. Looking at them now, I realise just how unrealistic their figure is. Have a look below.

 I know what most of you are thinking right now. How perfect would it be to look like this? It wouldn't be perfect at all, in fact, it's impossible to be like this. Take a look at what a person would look like, should they be the exact same measurements of a standard Barbie Doll.
Is that beautiful and perfect to you? No, it's not. A real life barbie wouldn't be able to support herself, walk, have children, and she would only be 2 inches smaller than the worlds tallest woman. Is that attractive, really?

We should be encouraging children to love their body, not feel like they aren't normal. It's horrible, and it disgusts me that the media can't see it. I think there should be some restrictions put on what the media can and can't publish. A simple, but effective one being to put a note saying the photos have been changed, or just to stop editing the photos to within an inch of their life! It's amazing what photoshop can do to make people look totally different. Take this photo of the beautiful Jennifer Aniston for example.

She looks better in the second photo, agreed? That's because it's been edited, really edited. You can see for yourself the various different changes that have been applied, but this, and all the other photos out there show just how badly the media encourage eating disorders, and as a result, more and more people worry about their body, when they should be perfectly happy with it. All people should be different, not only in the way we think, but the way we look as well. If we all looked the same, the world would be a boring place.

So what do you think? Do you argree or disagree with me? Do you know anyone who's suffered/siffering from not feeling perfect? Or are you suffering? An easy way to find out is to visit this site. If you know anyone, or if you think you're at risk of an eating disorder, GET HELP. I have experienced a minor eating disorder before, and I went to the doctors. I wasn't aware it was an eating disorder, as I was just getting sore stomach's all the time, I thought it might just be a bug, but when I went to get it checked, the doctor said I need to eat more, and put on weight, to which I tried. However, i'm still underweight, but i'm putting that down to a high metabolism, because i'm perfectly happy now. I have also had to deal with a good friend of mine having bulimia. Do you know what I did? I told someone. And it helps. 
Let me know your opinions on this topic please? I have shown you mine.

youfounderin x

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