I totally stole this post from off my sister's friend's blog. I am just really fascinated by this. Just recently I looked at a website that talked about before and after pics of celebrity plastic surgery. You wouldn't believe how many have had something done. Tons had nose jobs, and almost all had Botox. It vindicated my suspicion of Nicole Kidman's whole face overhaul. She looked so different when Moulin Rouge came out and now I know why (eye lift, nose job). Fergie doesn't even look like the same person. Anyway, enough of that...here's AnneMarie's post:
The Pursuit of Beauty
"I've been reading a book called "Deadly Persuasion" which is a book on the influence of advertising on women. Wow! Some very eye-opening information! Here are some of the facts I've gathered lately on body image and how it's possibly affected by the media.
*The average model today is 5' 10" and weighs around 110 pounds (that is not even enough body fat to have a normal menstrual cycle!).
*The average model today is 23% lighter than what is considered normal weight; 25 years ago, the average model was 9% lighter than normal weight. (The models are only getting skinnier!)
*78% of normal-weight women are dissatisfied with their bodies.
*The original Barbie would have had proportions of 39"-18"-33". In 1997, after serious concern about her unrealistic body, the toy company did expand her waist and shrink her bust somewhat (an 18" waist wouldn't have even allowed for all her normal organs!). I know she's only a toy, and I played with Barbies as a little girl, but it's part of the whole package of portraying unrealistically proportioned women.
*The #1 wish of teenage girls is to be thin.
*At age seventeen, 78% of girls are unhappy with their bodies.
*In a study on fifth graders, 10 year old girls told researchers they were more dissatisfied with their own bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears or a clip from "Friends".
*When three weeks of Saturday morning toy commercials were analyzed, it was found that 50% of the ads aimed at girls spoke about physical attractiveness.
*The more media consumed (magazines, movies, music videos), the higher the body dissatisfaction among teenage and college-age girls.
*In a popular picture used to advertise the movie "Pretty Woman", the face was Julia Roberts' but not the body. Someone else's body was used because apparently even Julia Roberts doesn't have the ideal body!
*More than half the adult women in the U.S. are currently dieting (and this often means short-term, quick-working methods which are unhealthy and result in yo-yo weight gain and loss, instead of looking at changing habits for life).
*About 60% of Caucasian middle school girls read at least one fashion magazine regularly.
*Women's magazines have 10.5 times more ads and articles promoting weight loss than men's magazines do.
*Most models are thinner than 98% of American women.
*46% of 9-11 year old girls are sometimes or very often on diets.
*40-60% of high school girls are on a diet at any time.
*42% of 1st-3rd grade girls wish they were thinner.
A quote that does a great job summarizing much of the author's work: "Girls of all ages get the message that they must be flawlessly beautiful and, above all these days, they must be thin. Even more destructively, they get the message that this is possible, that, with enough effort and self-sacrifice, they can achieve this ideal. THus many girls spend enormous amounts of time and energy attempting to achieve something that is not only trivial but also completely unattainable. The glossy images of flawlessly beautiful and extremely thin women that surround us would not have the impact they do if we did not live in a culture that encourages us to believe we can and should remake our bodies into perfect commodities." Jean Kilbourne
The week of February 24th is National Eating Disorders Awareness week. Five to ten million Americans are directly affected by eating disorders. Check out http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ for some great info. Here are some tips I gleaned from the website about what parents can do to promote a positive body image and help prevent eating disorders:
*Practice taking people seriously for what they say, feel, and do, not for how slender or "well put together" they appear.
*Help children appreciate and resist the ways in which television, magazines, and other media distort the true diversity of human body types and imply that a slender body means power, excitement, popularity, or perfection.
*Encourage your children to be active and to enjoy what their bodies can do and feel like.
*Do not talk about or behave as if you are constantly dieting.
*Convey to children that weight and appearance are not the most critical aspects of their identity and self-worth.
*Discourage the idea that a particular diet or body size will automatically lead to happiness and fulfillment.
*Don't constantly criticize your own shape ("my butt looks so big in these pants", etc.).
*Don't support pornography or other "institutions" that cast women as objects for the pleasure of men.
*(specifically for men) Demonstrate a respect for women as they age, in order to work against the cultural glorification of youth and a tightly controlled ideal body type. (Why is that only men should become distinguished as they age, while women become wrinkled and need face lifts?).
It is such a struggle to maintain a healthy attitude about our bodies. The pictures of women on magazine covers are airbrushed and enhanced. Many models and celebrities we admire have resorted to different "enhancements" and "jobs" to fit the "ideal" body which has been created, not to mention they probably have enough time and money to work out 2 hours a day with a personal trainer. What I would love to see is more "everyday" people in the media, people of different shapes and sizes, people who have disabilities, more people of different races, and more women who are older than 40 and actually look like they've aged (ever feel like once an actress reaches 40, she is almost never seen again?).
Yes, I do believe in establishing healthy eating and exercise habits, so that we are taking care of our bodies. But the messages of the media would often have us feeling that we are never good enough, creating in us a discontent and a void, causing us to feel that we are never thin enough, stylish enough, or pretty enough (and yes, outward appearance is of the utmost importance in our image-obsessed culture). I can speak from personal experience that being thin is not inevitably associated with greater life happiness. During my adult years, I have been underweight, overweight, and normal-weight for different periods of time. When I weighed less, I was no happier than when I weighed more. Happiness for me has been much more closely linked to the quality of my relationships, my spirituality, good health habits, and my level of gratitude.
After reading and thinking about women's bodies and the messages we receive each day, I feel there is a greater need than ever to examine how we view ourselves and each other. We definitely have to filter and criticize the unrealistic images we are continually viewing. By so doing, hopefully we can feel more self-acceptance and more peace with the imperfect, beautiful bodies given to us by God."