According to the Seretean Center for Health Promotion, the term, body image has been coined to describe a persons inner sense of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the physical appearance of her/his body. (From The Wellness Column, April 1, 1996.) In my research, I found that many young girls are dissatisfied with their bodies and many strive to look like the waif-thin models or actresses one sees on television or in fashion magazines. There was a lot of information and facts on body and image that I found on the Internet. However, one website, Just Think Foundation, supported my belief that the media, magazines in particular, do indeed influence young girls to be thin in order to be popular and beautiful in our society. For example, I was in alarmed to learn that eighty percent of 10-year-old American girls diet; more than five million Americans suffer from eating disorders and ninety percent of those are adolescent and young adult women; the number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner; and between elementary and high school, the percentage of girls in the U.S. who are happy with the way I am drops from 60% to 29%. (from Just Think Foundation)
These facts were from the JTFs Body Image Project compiled by Jean Holzgang that is an awareness campaign on body image. In fashion magazines, many young girls see waif-thin models like Kate Moss who is one of many top models that sadly represents the perfect body image that young girls are striving towards. Unfortunately, many teen girls do not understand that looking exactly like their favorite supermodel is unrealistic. In fact, as for the supermodel photos, many are retouched before they are printed out, the fashion clothes are often duct-taped to enhance fit, many blemishes are covered or altered, there is at least two inches removed from the thighs, and the average fashion model weighs 23-25% less than the average woman. All this in order to create that ideal or perfect body image everyone is striving for and sadly dying for. This compulsion to be thin has led many young girls to have a negative body image that dangerously paves the way to eating disorders, such as Anorexia and Bulimia, in order for them to achieve their desire for thinness.
In television and movies, many teen girls watch and observe these actresses, such as Calista Flockhart, Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Gweneth Paltrow, Lara Flynn Boyle, and many others who have seemed to have went from an average weight to a sickly, death look. This seems to be setting a dangerous trend for the American culture, particularly women and young girls. In fact, there are endless images of thin women on television, in movies, in women and mens magazines and in commercials. For instance, these Hollywood role models do have a great impact on young viewers and many parents are very worried that their daughters are trying to imitate their favorite stars.
According to Adrienne Ressler, body-image specialist at the Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., For adolescents, the ideal for the person they want to be when they grow up is either a movie star, TV actress or supermodel, and the emphasis is very much on external appearance. Our patients would die-and practically do-to look like Calista Flockhart. ( People, 10-18-99) In the music industry, the most popular media influence is the music video and the types of fashion trends the performer displays onstage. The most popular young adult performer is teen sensation Britney Spears. This pretty, young lady is only 17 years old and already has had a huge impact on the teen girls. For example, recently, Miss Spears was on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and she stirred up controversy when it appeared to look like the singer had breast enhancements or simply, breast implants. (In all fairness, I did not have a chance to view that cover of Rolling Stone.) Miss Spears has denied the breast implant allegation and is quoted as saying; her mother would kill her if she had such a operation.
However, I read that many fans believe that she does look different from her first video, Baby One More Time, with her latest, Sometimes, in that her breasts do look like they were surgically enhanced. This rumor has a great deal of parents worried that their own daughters might want to emulate the teen pop idol because she is promoting the ideal image of a young girls body. Another example of a music video image is Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) of the well-known Spice Girls. She was considered a head-turner because of her curvaceous good looks and designer clothes. So, know one would have thought of her as over-weight or too curvy, but at a recent Fashion party, many onlookers were stunned to see Beckhams jutting ribs and collarbones that fellow guests replied, She definitely looks like shes had a dramatic weight loss. (People, 10-18-99) These two examples plus the dozens of others I have read through my research, have allowed me to come to the conclusion that, many of Hollywoods most notable actresses and performers have become partners in the thin is in look in this industry.
In my opinion, this is very disturbing and very dangerous for many young girls who look up to these women as Role models. In conclusion, I hope that T.V., magazines, music videos, commercials, retail stores and other mediums realize that there are women of all different shapes and sizes, there is a higher percentage of women that are usually an average size of 12 and there is evidence that a lesser percentage of women who are a size 2 to 4. Unfortunately, it is the size 2 to 4 women who are being recognized as the ideal body image in our society. Furthermore, I would rather have more women like Kate Winslet, Rosie ODonnell, Emme, and many other average women on the covers of popular magazines and in television. These are the true role models for me, the ones who promote healthy ways to lose weight, promote healthy ways to like yourself for who you are, and not promote the unhealthy body image that engrosses our mind