WE ask two teen girls & their mums if...

WE ask two teen girls & their mums if airbrushed photos of stars affect body image

There are 20 comments on the The Sun Online story from Nov 11, 2009, titled WE ask two teen girls & their mums if airbrushed photos of stars affect body image. In it, The Sun Online reports that:

THEY say your school days are the happiest of your life, but nothing could be further from the truth for many body-conscious youngsters.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Sun Online.

queenlaughsalot

Oxford, OH

#1 Nov 11, 2009
Body image debates and depictions of women in the media is a huge debate. Is there a way fix this?
coholicm

Oxford, OH

#2 Nov 11, 2009
The image of perfection in body type women see advertised needs to be combated with positive, uplifting, and healthy goals and advice. The first strategy women need to consider is to expanding their horizon on beauty. I believe that if someone has confidence about the way they look, whether they fit the world’s perception of beauty or not, then people will see beyond a body type. When people compare themselves to people in the media it can cause harm to that person. Women have all different attributes that portray different types of beauty. The constant fascination media puts on weight gain of celebrities, plastic surgery, thin models, and workout plans affects women immensely. The media seems to see beauty as merely skin deep, failing to look past appearance. When the world seems to ignore inner beauty, it is hard for individuals to see it as well. The body may be a physical attribute, but body image causes problems for women specifically on a mental and emotional level. Media also has different aspects of being healthy. Media portrays being healthy as fitting in a size 2, and pin points any problems if you do not. Women struggle with eating disorders and go through immense hardships trying to for the “perfect” image. I believe that being healthy is a very important thing, but I think it should not be about what you look like on the outside but how you feel on the inside. I am nineteen years old and I already feel an overwhelming desire to be skinny. Media pin points every “bad” feature on a celebrity. This obsession with celebrity’s flaws makes me judge how I see myself. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the media puts influences the standards we have. There are a variety of advertisements and commercials that portray negative aspects on appearances. Fortunately, there are some companies that are trying to show the true, real beauty. I think that Seventeen Magazine for young women this is a very inspirational magazine. The magazine is very realistic. It shows the beauty that can be found in all shapes and sizes. I think that the Dove Real Beauty Campaign is amazing. It is inspiring to see people who believe in themselves and have confidence in the way they look. The campaign portrays people that the popular culture and media may not deem attractive, but who are proud of their physical appearance. This emphasizes the idea that beauty is more than a physical attribute and that there is no set standard or definition of what is beautiful, but society has created the misconception that beauty is only found in perfection. I believe in myself, but I struggle to have full confidence in myself when I compare myself to the visions of perfection in the media. The media needs to portray more inspiring images and role models for women to focus on. I hope society will fight to show off how real beauty comes in every shape and size.
lasorsjm

Oxford, OH

#3 Nov 11, 2009
We are currently living in the midst of the technology and media era. According to the Girls, Women + Media Project, children ages 12-18 spend approximately 6.5 hours each day tuned into some sort of media source whether it be television, internet etc. Therefore, it is only right for us as a society to be concerned about what ideas and images are being impressed upon this easily influenced age group. The ideas that these young boys and girls grow up with will affect how the future female leaders of our country feel about themselves and the ideas the transfer to their daughters. The will affect how the future male leaders of our country treat their girlfriends and wives and how their sons learn how to treat women as well. Therefore, it is imperative that we take a closer look at the true message behind the media advertisements we see everyday and evaluate if these are the ideas we want the children of our country to be growing up with.
I think that the media today is way over sexualized and objectifies women through commercials, billboards, and magazine ads. Because of this there is an epidemic of body hate in our country. As early as the first grade, young girls report feeling the need to be thin and go on a diet to look as beautiful as the models they constantly see portrayed as the ideal (Hellmich). This is a very sad fact, and if it weren’t for the state of our media, young girls would not be feeling this pressure. We are robbing children of their childhood by promoting ads that make them feel as if they need to live up to an unrealistic and unattainable standard.
This pressure and objectification by media on women is causing many dyer issues such as disordered eating that can lead to diseases such as anorexia and bulimia. 2008 Eating Disorder Statistics report that 1 in 5 women suffer from an eating disorder. 70 million individuals are affected by eating disorders worldwide, with 24 million of those being American. The average model is thinner than 98% of American women. It is inevitable that women will feel negatively about themselves after being told time and time again that size 0-4 is the only acceptable way to be, when the average female size in America is a 12-14.
lasorsjm

Oxford, OH

#4 Nov 11, 2009
Not only are the women in ads today unrealistically thin, in addition, most of the time, they are half naked as well! We’ve all been told “sex sells.” In Jean Kilbournes “Killing Us Softly 3” she argues that advertising today tells women that they most important thing in life is to attain beauty. Beauty in America is only attained with enormous amounts of time, energy and above all money. However, failure is inevitable because the ideal is based on absolute flawlessness. She analyzes ads for mundane, everyday objects such as shampoo, hair ties, and watches. Even in advertisements for such everyday items, the message is still in there that women must be super thin and super sexualized.
We can contribute America’s title of highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world to the hyper-sexualized media images and ads that are constantly thrown at young girls and women. We are just beginning to move out of a society in which the only government funded sexual education programs were strictly abstinence based. Between abstinence only education and severe sexual images from every which way you turn – it is no wonder that teen pregnancy is so prevalent in our country. I believe that if media images were less sexual than teen pregnancy rates would drop.
Today, young women put down their bodies together like it is a favorite pastime. This is so widespread that a movement against body hate talk has developed called Operation Beautiful. Operation Beautiful encourages people to end the fight against their own bodies by not participating in body hatred discussions. Operation Beautiful also suggests leaving notes of inspiration and encouragement around with “You are beautiful” or “You are worth it.” Organizations such as Operation Beautiful and the Girls+ Women Media Project are what we need to turn around our country’s beauty standards. If we don’t overhaul our standards soon, and disallow such explicit and degrading images to be shown in the media, we can only expect female body image and self-esteem to worsen, and eating disorders and teen pregnancy to rise.
lasorsjm

Oxford, OH

#5 Nov 11, 2009
We are currently living in the midst of the technology and media era. According to the Girls, Women + Media Project, children ages 12-18 spend approximately 6.5 hours each day tuned into some sort of media source whether it be television, internet etc. Therefore, it is only right for us as a society to be concerned about what ideas and images are being impressed upon this easily influenced age group. The ideas that these young boys and girls grow up with will affect how the future female leaders of our country feel about themselves and the ideas the transfer to their daughters. The will affect how the future male leaders of our country treat their girlfriends and wives and how their sons learn how to treat women as well. Therefore, it is imperative that we take a closer look at the true message behind the media advertisements we see everyday and evaluate if these are the ideas we want the children of our country to be growing up with.
I think that the media today is way over sexualized and objectifies women through commercials, billboards, and magazine ads. Because of this there is an epidemic of body hate in our country. As early as the first grade, young girls report feeling the need to be thin and go on a diet to look as beautiful as the models they constantly see portrayed as the ideal (Hellmich). This is a very sad fact, and if it weren’t for the state of our media, young girls would not be feeling this pressure. We are robbing children of their childhood by promoting ads that make them feel as if they need to live up to an unrealistic and unattainable standard.
This pressure and objectification by media on women is causing many dyer issues such as disordered eating that can lead to diseases such as anorexia and bulimia. 2008 Eating Disorder Statistics report that 1 in 5 women suffer from an eating disorder. 70 million individuals are affected by eating disorders worldwide, with 24 million of those being American. The average model is thinner than 98% of American women. It is inevitable that women will feel negatively about themselves after being told time and time again that size 0-4 is the only acceptable way to be, when the average female size in America is a 12-14.
Not only are the women in ads today unrealistically thin, in addition, most of the time, they are half naked as well! We’ve all been told “sex sells.” In Jean Kilbournes “Killing Us Softly 3” she argues that advertising today tells women that they most important thing in life is to attain beauty. Beauty in America is only attained with enormous amounts of time, energy and above all money. However, failure is inevitable because the ideal is based on absolute flawlessness. She analyzes ads for mundane, everyday objects such as shampoo, hair ties, and watches. Even in advertisements for such everyday items, the message is still in there that women must be super thin and super sexualized.
We can contribute America’s title of highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world to the hyper-sexualized media images and ads that are constantly thrown at young girls and women. We are just beginning to move out of a society in which the only government funded sexual education programs were strictly abstinence based. Between abstinence only education and severe sexual images from every which way you turn – it is no wonder that teen pregnancy is so prevalent in our country. I believe that if media images were less sexual than teen pregnancy rates would drop.
dahlenkl

Oxford, OH

#6 Nov 11, 2009
Women today are depicted through the media in various ways. Most of these ways contribute to this idea of a certain body image. The media presents this common theme of what being “sexy” is. This common theme is none other than this phenomenon of being skinny. The new fat is being a size 4 and being fit means fitting into a size 0. As we know, this is not the case for the majority of women in American. Although it may not seem to have an affect on the teenage generations, it definitely does. It seems like when we turn the TV on we see commercial after commercial of “taking this to lose weight” or “do this, eat that and you will lose weight.” Everything is centered around losing weight and being thin.

This idea of “thin being in” is negatively affecting the female teenage generations. Considering the images we see in the media only depict women that are thin as being beautiful, could essentially have a profound affect on female teenagers self confidence. Growing up seeing shows and billboards that have women with figures of a model instantly starts this self-comparison to them. Everyone wants the perfect body, so when we see all these gorgeous people that have that “perfect body” and fit into a size 0, we strive to be to achieve it too. This could be detrimental to young women because it could evolve into major health issues. Anorexia, bulimia and depression are just a few of the severe issues that could arise from the pressures of attaining this model figure.

Recently, I saw a commercial that was very intriguing. It was a Dove commercial and it showed the process of how much make up and alternations they do to one single picture before the public views it. The woman that was in the commercial appeared to be an average looking person, but by the time her face was on that billboard she looked 100 percent different. Some of the alternations they did consisted of elongating her neck, raising her eyebrows and making her eyes bigger. All of these things are things that we cannot fix without technology. Of course she looked gorgeous, but it did not compare to what she looked like before all of the alternations. This is just one example of how the public gets a distorted view of what these models actually look like.

I think the media is to blame for all of the self esteem issues among teenage female cultures. And I think it is important for them to start portraying different body types as beautiful too. Young women have to realize that a lot of these pictures we see have been touched up to look that way. The image of the model figure is one that is not normal among society. The average women’s body does not look like that and although losing weight can be done, it needs to be done the healthy way. It is time that the media portrays all body types as being beautiful and gets this image that only women with model figures are pretty.
bluemelr

Oxford, OH

#7 Nov 12, 2009
Why is society so focused on appearance? Who is in charge of this so called “beautiful image” women look up to today? So many people today are consumed with looking like the models, actresses, and athletes we see in the media. Dove’s real beauty campaign forces us to reexamine how we live our lives; how we view ourselves and others. The study that the Dove beauty campaign has stemmed from,“The Real Truth about Beauty: A Global Report” found that only 2% of women around the world feel comfortable describing themselves as “beautiful.” I find this appalling! Who tells women what beautiful is? Every woman should be able to look in the mirror and see themselves as beautiful. The media is responsible for these negative feelings women have about themselves. If you don’t look like the latest movie star you aren’t beautiful? Wrong! Women should not be forced to look at these models and actresses who use millions of dollars and are air brushed to look like they do. They perceive these women as beautiful and that it is normal to be a size zero and have perfect skin and hair, when it is in fact very unusual. It is unrealistic to think that every woman can look in the mirror and love everything about herself, but it is not unrealistic to be able to look in the mirror and see that your body is beautiful flaws and all. The media not only forces women to see unrealistic pictures of the “average” woman, but also give men unrealistic expectations of the “average” woman. These combined feelings cause men to objectify women and expect women to look like those they see in movies and advertisements when this is not very likely.
Dove’s campaign for real beauty is not only trying to change the stereotypical “beautiful” woman, but also trying to boost self-esteem. The real women featured in the Dove ad campaigns show women and men how beautiful women are of every shape and size, without costly surgeries, tons of makeup, and thousand dollar wardrobes. When we see these advertisements we can see real women who we can compare ourselves to and see resemblances instead of every way we could change our appearances in order to look like the woman in the ad we are looking at. Dove’s efforts to boost self-esteem through donating to and conducting self-esteem workshops for young girls whose image of “beauty” is most susceptible to media’s negative images. Young girls look up to these models and movie stars when they are going through stages in their lives where they don’t know who they are and only want to fit in. They need positive, realistic women to see. They need to understand that everyone is different, and that everyone is beautiful in their own way. Low self-esteem can affect someone on so many levels. It’s not just how they view themselves, but how they will decide to apply themselves to different things. A young girl is less likely to be involved and to apply herself to what she is doing or wishes to do because she feels like an outsider.
We need to let young girls and women everywhere know that they are not alone. Most people don’t look like the models we see on T.V., most women don’t see themselves as beautiful, and most women are scared to let people see the real them. Dove has begun, but there needs to be more change in how women are portrayed in the media because it is objectifying, and gives everyone an unrealistic view of what a woman “should” look like.
Jaeckla

Oxford, OH

#8 Nov 12, 2009
In today’s society there is an “ideal” beauty. This includes being at least 5’8’’ but the taller the better, below a size 6 but the smaller the better, and a “pretty” face. Over the last couple years many efforts have been made to reverse the negative effects on body image in the media. On the forefront of this battle are campaigns like Dove Evolution that embrace every definition of what is beautiful in the body. Steps have even been made with the Spanish Runways who have decided to ban models that are “too skinny”. All these changes have been made to revolutionize the industry to try to change its portrayal of the perfect body. However, although many people feel that the media is moving away from the “one-definition” ideal of what a model should be, I feel that the media still has a strong negative role on body image.
Whenever people think of the media, they think of three different aspects- magazines (commercial and tabloids), television, and newspapers. All three aspects are still heavily dominated by the stick skinny ideal of what’s pretty. Commercial magazines are loaded with articles about diet fads and the latest fashion trends. All these give connotations to be skinnier. All the fashion clothes max out at a size 6. Although some magazines are trying to add sections for plus size women, those sections might be 2-3 pages. The rest of the magazine is dominated with beauty tips and fashion spreads of the size 2, 6’ blond. Tabloids are even worse than commercial magazines. They all take pictures of celebrities with titles like “Did Britney Gain Weight?” or “From Flab to Fab”. All the articles put enormous pressure on the celebrities to conform into the stick skinny picture, but then attack the same celebrities when they are too skinny. One example is Hilary Duff. She was a normal size for a teenager until one article said she still had a lot of her baby fat. She then worked her hardest to lose the weight until she was so skinny it looked like there was nothing there. The fascination on what the celebrities do and look like greatly impact body image.
Television also has a lot of influence on body image. Reality shows such as the Bachelor and The Hills all portray young men and women that are beautiful using the media’s definition. They are all skinny, tan, have straight white teeth, ect. In fact, most of the actor and actresses on television fit that mold. Even on programs that are intended for seriousness such as the news, the anchors all fit the idealistic body type. Even in the newspapers are stories coming out on the media’s negative influence. The Ralph Lauren model, Filippa Hamilton, was fired because she became “too large”. This is outrageous because she is 120 lbs and 5’10’’. This is actually below what the BMI chart says is a healthy range for her height.
Why does the media still do this? One answer- It’s what sells. The industry is making billions off of what appeals to the consumer. The size 2 blond is better able to sell the bottle of perfume than the size 12 blond. Why is this? In my opinion, the ideal of what is beauty is so deeply engrained into society that it will take drastic steps to reverse.
Emily Leidlein

Oxford, OH

#9 Nov 12, 2009
Eating disorders are a huge part of our society and feeling the need to be “model” skinny. From the hundreds of advertisements we see everyday, its not a surprise that women feel the need to dress and look a certain way because that is what is portrayed as beautiful. Advertisements constantly objectify women and use their bodies solely to sell a product, even if its only the woman’s body pictured and not her head or face. This is both sad and disappointing that while we are so obsessed with self-image of the outside, people don’t realize that the real beauty lies within a person.

Since the beginning of media, televisions, magazines, etc, women have made their way from being proper and conservative, to basically naked and promiscuous. Magazines before the 1960’s portrayed women only as house wives who must always look good and take care of herself, the kids, and the house in order to make her husband happy. Tips for cooking, cleaning, clothing and even cosmetics were given in the hopes that the women stayed in the home.

Then media began to change as sex became a common topic and women became the main focus. The were then portrayed not as mothers and wives but as sex objects used to sell products by making men and women want to be them or have whatever they are selling. Television became more and more lenient with explicit content and now sex and objectification of women has made it into everyday conversation.

Now girls find themselves looking at women in the media and wondering why they don’t look like that. The also don’t know that only six percent of women look like those women and they feel the need to try to achieve the impossible goal of looking like a supermodel. These goals are unrealistic and unhealthy. The photos in magazines and women on television are altered in order to fix “flaws” and make them become the ideal women whether its from evening a woman’s skin tone to where she has absolutely no pores or shaving off a couple pounds. The point is, the wrong message is being sent to women all over.

It is not how well you dress, or what you look like on the outside. It is not how well you cook or clean or sell a product. Beauty lies within and girls must be shown that in order to be beautiful they do not have to be tall, skinny or westernized in any way. The youth is the most important and by fourth grade, studies show that children already start to become unhappy with their bodies and by sixth grade want to alter them. This is why body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, depression and even eating disorders are becoming more and more common among the girls and women of today.
coholicm

Oxford, OH

#10 Nov 14, 2009
lasorsjm, I definitely agree that the society is having an epidemic of women hating their bodies. I think it is horrible that the age that it is affecting is becoming so low. According to the National Institute on Media and the family, a study done on 5th grade girls and boys told researchers they were dissatisfied with their own bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears or a clip from the TV show "Friends" (Mundell, 2002). I do not think I thought about body image in 5th grade but I know that it has become a very prevalent topic in today’s society. Women need to show the younger era how to be proud of themselves and by not flaunting themselves in the media.
coholicm

Oxford, OH

#11 Nov 14, 2009
I think that the Dove campaign has been a very good inspiration for women to see true beauty. Although, I also feel like other media features are getting worse on showing true beauty. Tabloids depict every issue of the celebrity’s body and pin point out problems that other women see and affect their everyday lifestyle. The standard for body type is on a very narrow range. I think it is horrible seeing what society has shaped beauty into and what society is doing to people that do not fit the “standard”. How do you think we could bring more inspirational affects on body type into the media?
dahlenkl

Oxford, OH

#12 Nov 18, 2009
I agree with coholicm. I definitely think that the media plays a major part in young girls developing a sense of self. If they grow up watching the media depict women so negatively, and only advertising the idea of thin as being pretty, then I think it will lead to many self-esteem issues. This unhealthy image is not only unrealistic, but makes young girls more likely to develop unhealthy eating habits. The world does not see what kind of affect the media has on young girl's and I think it is important to start taking a closer look at it and changing the way the media portrays women.
coholicm

Oxford, OH

#13 Nov 18, 2009
bluemelr, I ask myself those same questions. I want to know who started this "perfect" body image figure that makes women go crazy. Appearance has always been an issue in a women’s life but I feel like it is taking over millions of women’s lifestyles. Women are hurting themselves to be the “perfect” body image. You should not judge your appearance on others. Women need to find beauty that comes from within and respect their self with love.
bluemelr

Oxford, OH

#14 Nov 18, 2009
coholicm, I really like how you talk about Seventeen magazine's efforts against this "perfect" body image, and I have seen articles in the magazine about body image and how they show different body types. I think they could still do a better job at showing real women and real beauty, but they however, do quite a good job. I think they try to have covergirls who their readers can look up to and see a good example, but in this world today, it is hard to find a famous women who people will look upto, who does not fit this "perfect" image. Although this women say that beauty is what is on the inside, girls still look at their supper skinny bodies, and made-up faces and want to be like them.
bluemelr

Oxford, OH

#15 Nov 18, 2009
Jaeckla, Wow! I love your statement about plus size women. These magazines try to make themselves look good in the reader's eye because they cater to "plus-size" women too. There are two main points about this that I would like to make, one is what you said about this topic only having 2 or 3 pages in a magazine which is ridiculous because most women would fit into this "plus-size" group. This brings me to my second point, who decides what size "plus-sized" is? Most of the "plus-sized" models are not plus-sized at all, at a size 10 or 12 they are considered plus-size, but are actually average.
bluemelr

Oxford, OH

#16 Nov 18, 2009
dahlenkl,
I like your comment about dieting in the media. I never really thought about that aspect of the media, I only focused on how they portrayed women as skinny and flawless, being normal; but today there definatley are many advertisements about how to lose weight. Everywhere you look there is a new idea of how to look fit and be healthy, which is ironic become most of the solutions are not healthy at all.
Jaeckla

Oxford, OH

#17 Nov 18, 2009
Thank you bluemeir, I agree with what everyone is saying. But lets think of a way to fix the problem. I know we have been saying we have to start excepting all different types of body types, and I do agree that the Dove Campaign has lead a crucial role in paving a way towards better body image... But what’s the next step? Is it the fact that America is so focused on celebrities and the media and that is causing the problem? Or would you say that it's the industry's fault? I thought it was really interesting when I read a website for modeling and it gave the reasons why models have to look a certain way. Models have to be tall because the designer is able to cut larger pieces of fabrics so the design is better shown on a taller model than a shorter model. A model should be skinnier at the waist because it goes along with the camera adding 10 lbs. Is it the stigma that heavier is unhealthy that were trying to fix or is it the obsession of trying to fit into a perfect mold?
Emily Leidlein

Oxford, OH

#18 Nov 18, 2009
Well sorry i have not been in this conversation as much as i would have like to be but i agree with all of your statements. The idea that "plus sized" models are actually average is an interesting point. From a company standpoint, most probably feel that their line would be best advertised on a model that is considered above average and different from the rest. But what happens when the whole industry gets the same idea? This industry is probably one of the most competitive, so what happens when these women are no longer seen as what a model should look like? Does the industry or the female race lose its competitive edge? I think not but i can see some points for the pro-side.
Emily Leidlein

Oxford, OH

#19 Nov 18, 2009
I also want to discuss the topic brought up earlier about how women are increasingly altering their natural bodies in unnatural ways in order to fit a mold that is almost unattainable without hurting yourself. Eating disorders are a serious issue and are becoming more and more prevalent at a younger age. I read that girls start becoming insecure about their bodies in the fourth grade! This seems absurd to me and im wondering if the solution would be to start educating children about these problems at a younger age because changing the industry will not work i think. What are your takes, any other solutions?
Jaeckla

Oxford, OH

#20 Nov 18, 2009
As lasorsjm said before, "children ages 12-18 spend approximately 6.5 hours each day tuned into some sort of media source whether it be television, internet etc"... To answer some possible solutions, I think that a push for the media to stay away from the stick skinny model would be the best bet. BUT the key to doing that would be to support those advertisements by buying the merchandise that the “plus size” models are selling. Advertisements are meant for a business. If people support the business then it will thrive and others will follow in their footsteps.

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