Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yes it does...

Do thin models warp girls' body image?
Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY
When Frederique van der Wal, a former Victoria's Secret model, attended designers' shows during New York's Fashion Week this month, she was "shocked" by the waiflike models who paraded down the catwalk. They seemed even skinnier than in previous years.

"This unnatural thinness is a terrible message to send out. The people watching the fashion shows are young, impressionable women," says van der Wal, host of Cover Shot on TLC.

Psychologists and eating-disorder experts are worried about the same thing. They say the fashion industry has gone too far in pushing a dangerously thin image that women, and even very young girls, may try to emulate.

THIN MODELS: Is thin still in? | How good is gaunt? Tell us your thoughts

"We know seeing super-thin models can play a role in causing anorexia," says Nada Stotland, professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College in Chicago and vice president of the American Psychiatric Association. Because many models and actresses are so thin, it makes anorexics think their emaciated bodies are normal, she says. "But these people look scary. They don't look normal."

The widespread concern that model thinness has progressed from willowy to wasted has reached a threshold as evidenced by the recent actions of fashion show organizers.

The Madrid fashion show, which ended Saturday, banned overly thin models, saying it wanted to project beauty and health. Organizers said models had to be within a healthy weight range.

That means a 5-foot-9 woman would need to weigh at least 125 pounds.

Officials in India, Britain and Milan also have expressed concerns, but some experts say consumers in the USA will have to demand models with fuller figures for it to happen here.

"The promotion of the thin, sexy ideal in our culture has created a situation where the majority of girls and women don't like their bodies," says body-image researcher Sarah Murnen, professor of psychology at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. "And body dissatisfaction can lead girls to participate in very unhealthy behaviors to try to control weight."

Experts call these behaviors disordered eating, a broad term used to describe a range of eating problems, from frequent dieting to anorexia nervosa (which is self-starvation, low weight and fear of being fat) to bulimia nervosa (the binge-and-purge disorder).

Girls today, even very young ones, are being bombarded with the message that they need to be super-skinny to be sexy, says psychologist Sharon Lamb, co-author of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers' Schemes.

It used to be that women would only occasionally see rail-thin models, such as Twiggy, the '60s fashion icon. "But now they see them every day. It's the norm," Lamb says, from ads, catalogs and magazines to popular TV shows such as America's Next Top Model and Project Runway. "They are seeing skinny models over and over again."

On top of that, gaunt images of celebrities such as Nicole Richie and Kate Bosworth are plastered on magazine covers, she says.

What worries Lamb most is that these images are filtering down to girls as young as 9 and 10. Some really sexy clothes are available in children's size 6X, says Lamb, a psychology professor at Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vt. "Girls are being taught very young that thin and sexy is the way they want to be when they grow up, so they'd better start working on that now," she says.

Lamb believes it's fine for girls to want to feel sexy and pretty when they are teenagers, but that shouldn't be their primary focus. "If they are spending all their time choosing the right wardrobe, trying to dance like an MTV backup girl and applying lip gloss, it robs them of other options."

Some girls don't want to participate in sports because they're afraid they'll bulk up. Some won't try to play an instrument such as a trombone because it doesn't fit their image of what a "girly girl" should do, she says.

It begins in youth

There's no question younger girls are getting this message, says Murnen, who has studied this for 15 years. "We have done studies of grade-school girls, and even in grade 1, girls think the culture is telling them that they should model themselves after celebrities who are svelte, beautiful and sexy."

Some girls can reject that image, but it's a small percentage: 18% in Murnen's research. Those girls were shown to have the highest body esteem. Murnen and her colleagues reviewed 21 studies that looked at the media's effect on more than 6,000 girls, ages 10 and older, and found those who were exposed to the most fashion magazines were more likely to suffer from poor body images.

Societies throughout the ages have had different ideals for female beauty, says Katie Ford, chief executive officer of Ford Models, whose megastar models include Christie Brinkley and Rachel Hunter. "You can look as far back as Greek statues and paintings and see that. It's part of women's fantasy nature," Ford says. "The question is: When does that become destructive?"

She doesn't buy into the idea that fashion models are creating a cult of thinness in the USA. "The biggest problem in America is obesity. Both obesity and anorexia stem from numerous issues, and it would be impossible to attribute either to entertainment, be it film, TV or magazines."

Anatomy of a runway model

This year's fashion shows in New York featured a mix of figure types, some of them a little more womanly and some thin, says Ford, whose agency had about 20 models in shows of top designers, including Ralph Lauren, Bill Blass, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan. "Our models who did very well this season were not super-skinny. However, there were some on the runway who were very thin."

Cindi Leive, editor in chief of Glamour magazine, says some models were teens who hadn't developed their curves yet, which is one reason they appeared so thin. "You do see the occasional model on the runway looking like she should go from the fashion show to the hospital. You hear stories of girls who come to model and are collapsing because they haven't eaten in days. Any responsible model booker will tell you they turn away girls who get too thin."

Runway models have to have a certain look, says Kelly Cutrone, owner of People's Revolution, a company that produces fashion shows around the world. Her company produced 16 fashion shows in New York, including one for designer Marc Bouwer.

The runway models this year were no thinner than years before, she says. "I didn't see any difference in the girls at all. When they bend over, are you going to see the rib cage? Yes, they are thin naturally."

Women shouldn't be comparing themselves with these girls, she says. "These girls are anomalies of nature. They are freaks of nature. They are not average. They are naturally thin and have incredibly long legs compared to the rest of their body. Their eyes are wide set apart. Their cheekbones are high."

Most runway models are 14 to 19, with an average age of 16 or 17, she says. Some are older. Many are 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11. They average 120 to 124 pounds. They wear a size 2 or 4. "If we get a girl who is bigger than a 4, she is not going to fit the clothes," Cutrone says. "Clothes look better on thin people. The fabric hangs better."

Stephanie Schur, designer of her own line, Michon Schur, had her first official runway show in New York a few weeks ago. When she was casting models, she looked for women who had "a nice glow, a healthy look."

She encountered a few models who looked unhealthy. "They tend to be extremely pale, have thin hair and don't have that glow."

But many of today's runway models look pretty much alike, Schur says. "They are all pretty girls, but no one really stands out. For runway it's about highlighting the clothes. It's finding the girls that make your clothes look best."

Schur says she doesn't believe many young girls today are going to try to imitate what they see on the fashion runways. She says they are more likely to look to actresses for their ideal body image.

It's not surprising that women want to be slender and beautiful, because as a society "we know more about women who look good than we know about women who do good," says Audrey Brashich, a former teen model and author of All Made Up: A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty.

For several years, Brashich worked for Sassy and YM magazines and read thousands of letters from girls and teens who wanted to become a famous model, actress or singer.

And no wonder, she says. "As a culture, we are on a first-name basis with women like Paris Hilton or Nicole Richie," she says. "The most celebrated, recognizable women today are famous primarily for being thin and pretty, while women who are actually changing the world remain comparatively invisible. Most of us have a harder time naming women of other accomplishments." The idolizing of models, stars and other celebrities is not going to change "until pop culture changes the women it celebrates and focuses on."

Women come in all sizes

Glamour's Leive believes the media have a powerful influence on women's body images and a responsibility to represent women of all sizes. "We do not run photos of anybody in the magazine who we believe to be at an unhealthy weight. We frequently feature women of all different sizes. We all know that you can look fabulous in clothes without being a size 2."

Ford believes the trend next year will be to move toward more womanly figures. Model van der Wal agrees and says she's trying to include women of varying figure types in Cover Shot. "Women come in lots of different sizes and shapes, and we should encourage and celebrate that."

Cutrone says models will become heavier if that's what consumers demand. "If people decide thin is out, the fashion industry won't have thin models anymore. Have you spent time with fashion people? They are ruthless. They want money.

"And the one thing they know is people want clothes to cover their bodies," Cutrone says. "Unfortunately, most people aren't comfortable with their bodies."
Posted 9/25/2006 10:18 PM ET

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Silly Romantic Comedies

I find them so original... NOT. Its the same old story with small details changed. Women are expected to be two different people, the saint and the sinner, the librarian and the stripper. I would like to know how we should accomplish this...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How much do you know about the media...

Take the media quiz...
I got a 9 out of 10, but that's because I have been studying this for 4 years now!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Body Image:

Body Image
Loving Your Body Inside and Out

Women SmilingWith a positive or healthy body image, a woman has a real perception of her size and shape. She also feels comfortable with her body. With a negative body image, a woman has a distorted perception of her shape and size, compares her body to others, and feels shame and anxiety about her body. Being unhappy with your body can affect how you think and feel about yourself as a person. A poor body image can lead to emotional distress, low self-esteem, unhealthy dieting habits, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a woman's happiness and wellness.
When you Look in the Mirror, do you Like What you See?

Is your body image positive or negative? If your answer is negative, you are not alone. Women in the U.S. are under pressure to measure up to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty, which can lead to poor body image. Women are constantly bombarded with "Barbie Doll-like" images. By presenting an ideal that is so difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. It's no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty. The message we're hearing is either "all women need to lose weight" or that the natural aging process is a "disastrous" fate.
Other pressures can come from the people in our lives.

Looking for information on Mental Health conditions? Visit our mental health section.

* Family and friends can influence your body image with positive and negative comments.
* A doctor's health advice can be misinterpreted and affect how a woman sees herself and feels about her body.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"On the one hand, women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet aids. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth anywhere between 40 to 100 billion (U.S.) a year selling temporary weight loss (90 to 95% of dieters regain the lost weight).1 On the other hand, research indicates that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I don't think that anyone in my generation could function with out Google and Yahoo search... it consumes our lives and answers all our questions

Monday, November 2, 2009

The GW + M Project

he Girls, Women + Media Project is a 21st century, non-profit initiative and network working to increase awareness of how pop culture and media represent, affect, employ, and serve girls and women---and to advocate for improvement in those areas. The Project also seeks to educate and empower all consumers and citizens about consumer rights and responsibilities regarding the media, and to promote universal media literacy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


The day in the life of a woman; you can’t turn a corner, catch your reflection, pick up a newspaper, or even drive to work without an image of what you should look like, staring back at you. This media-driven image based on a perfect “everything”, has the perception of “natural” and “real” exceptionally distorted. In the span of simply 24 hours, American woman succumb to advertising’s multi billion dollar industry by accepting these images. Can you blame these females? With an industry that plays off the needs of a woman’s constant improvement, that vision becomes a habitual aspiration. The result of this aspiration? Low self esteem, increasing pressure, and the torture of their bodies. It is a daily struggle to live in our society, and it begins from the second the alarm radio goes off to the click of the television remote before bedtime. Welcome to the femme world.
Like clock work, her body pops up to the sound of the alarm clock blaring the local radio morning show. No music is playing to start her day with a catchy tune; it’s the station’s host advertising laser hair removal. She sighs and rolls over in her bed. This isn’t the first, or last time, she will hear this commercial. In the United States alone, national radio advertising revenue grossed 193.1 billion dollars in 2008*, and 92.0 billion locally ( Advertising on the radio is typically less costly ( and smaller companies, such as local offices for hair removal, can advertise more frequently. This guarantees women will hear their advertisements all day long. “Are you embarrassed by unwanted hair?” By noon, and three “laser hair removal” commercials later, yes, she is.
After fighting with her closet in the usual “What do I wear today” showdown, she leaves her house defeated (the hanging dresses won) and craving her usual bagel and iced latte. On her usual route to work, she looks up at the stoplight and catches the image of a model, blown up to billboard size, staring right at her. This billboard is saying “You are not good enough” with no words at all. Actually, it is advertising a local plastic surgeons office and she begins to question whether its time for a consultation? “Billboards immediately attract attention and usually leave a lasting impression if they are visually pleasing” (Day 1). In this case, that lasting impression is far from appealing. In Rhonda Day’s article, “How to measure the impact of billboard advertising campaigns” she writes, “They [billboards] need to be as clutter-free as possible and easy to read. They only receive about 2-4 seconds of a driver's attention so the message needs to be easily digested” (Day, 1). The image of this model is embedded in her mind, long after that light turned green. She skips her bagel and smear.
It’s 2:00 in the afternoon and she has left work early for a doctor’s appointment. In the waiting room, she flips through a magazine with Jennifer Love Hewitt. Bikini-clad Jen has a caption on the cover in bold, “Bye-bye belly flab! Four week AB makeover.” Magazines can be very addicting for women and depending on the style of magazine women often feel like they should portray the women in that magazine. Research has shown that “Portrayals of women in magazines may cultivate beliefs or expectations about physical appearance, sexuality, relationships or gender roles,” (Blaha, 1). With article titles ranging from “Take an inch off your hips” to “Makeup your skin will love” have drawn women in. In 2004, Rechert and Carpenter found “There has been an overall increase in sexual dress in portrayals of women and intimate contact between men and women from 1983 to 2003 in ads of different types of magazines,” (Blaha, 1). This overall picture perfect image placed in women’s’ heads leads to eating disorders, low self-esteem, and negative image portrayals. In Jennifer Love Hewitt’s article she talks about her long-lasting battle with weight issues and self-appearance but also says “I don’t care about my dress size; I work out to be healthy and feel good about myself,” (Detz, 59). If only every woman had the high self-esteem that Jennifer does then we would all be happier.
After a stressful day, all she wants to do is sprawl out on her comfy couch and catch up on “her shows.” What is on when she turns on the tube? Ah, yes another weight loss supplement, a Hydroxycut commercial. Hydroxycut is a dietary supplement that helps burn calories and boost metabolism (Hydroxycut, 1). The sexy, thin and pretty girls on the Television commercial makes every girl think about trying this product. Commercials are not only informative 30 seconds advertisements, but every aspect of them influences women. So not only do women see the different shapes, sizes and imperfections of other women daily but they also see the ways to perfect you, we can’t get away from it.
Here’s the breakdown; she has seen the ads, ogled the massive billboards, heard the advertisements, and skipped a meal…It isn’t enough anymore that she has to be bombarded with advertisements during commercials breaks. Advertisers are going big or going home, and just showcasing their product during the actual sitcom. Shows like “Extreme Makeover” and “What Not to Wear” use product placement to make women feel inferior if they aren’t using what is expressed to them as socially acceptable. Throughout these shows, the products used to create a “better” image for the woman receiving a makeover are constantly being flashed across the screen. If these products are making that woman so beautiful why wouldn’t every one else want to buy them? Viewers have been given an outline of what beauty is from the media industry. The media uses this normative beauty to sell their products by placing them in television shows that promote this created beauty. “If more women believe in a normative beauty, then more women will buy their product. Furthermore, if this normative beauty will improve your daily lifestyles, then how can the beauty paradigm be interpreted as anything other than extraordinary?”(“Product Placement”).

These shows have found creative ways to sell their product without the viewer even realizing a product is being pitched to them. “The corporations have found an interesting way to market their products based on human emotion, physical appearance, and social acceptance, a way that is very effective” (“Product Placement”). Product placement is not only advertising for how a woman should physically look, but what they should own. A woman’s self image is not only based on what they look like, but how they feel others view them.
Today’s television shows are giving women the idea that if they have the most fashionable clothes, newest phone, and are drinking the correct brand of water then they will be viewed with a greater respect and looked up to. Television shows such as “Gossip Girl” have used product placement to promote things such as Verizon phones and Vitamin Water. This product placement will drive women, who want to be like the characters, to buy their products. Product placement is hazardous in that it is changing our society into a mold that the media has created without the viewer’s realization.
With all the already chaotic events in the life of a female, it seems like these advertising tactics should seem minimal. In retrospect, they are so pertinent. In just one day, she faces a message of perfection she must strive to obtain. Whether subtle through product placement or the in-your-face billboard for Dr.Botox, it is the constant reminder that there is something you need to fix. And it works. Women continue to buy Shape magazine for diet tips, pick up the newest face cream at the counter, and go under the knife for Eva Longoria’s perfect nose. Has the media created this need for perfection or have we become so obsessed with perfection that media is just capitalizing on it? Either way, these advertisements are working well. Too well…


Blaha, Emily. "The Portrayal of Women in Magazine Advertisements Across Four Different Women's Magazines." College of St. Catherine. Web. 1 Nov. 2009. .
Detz, Jeanine. "How I got slim & confident." Shape Oct. 2009: 59-64. Print.
Thermogenic Hydroxycut Advanced. Advertisement. MTV. MTV, Jacksonville, FL, 1 Nov. 2009. Television.
“Product Placement and a False Sense of Happiness in Reality Makeover TV
Shows.” Weblog post. Critical Studies in Feminist Art History and Visual
Culture. 25 Mar. 2009. 27 Oct. 2009. 49529/2009/03/25/formal-product-placement-and-a-false-sense-of-
"Advertisement and Branding Industry Overview." Plunkett Research, Ltd.. 2009. Plunkett Research Almanac 2009, Web. 27 Oct 2009. .

"Radio Advertising Pros and Cons." 1999-2009., Inc., Web. 27 Oct 2009. .

Day, Rhonda. "How to measure the impact of billboard advertising campaigns." 2002-2009., Inc., Web. 27 Oct 2009. .