Thursday, February 17, 2011

Body Image in Hollywood

Hollywood: (noun)
A fantastical place where everyone seems to look perfect. Lying in the heart of California, Hollywood is home to movies and movie stars. Although "Hollywood" is an actual place, it extends farther than just the location -- in a sense, Hollywood is everywhere celebrities are. These celebrities are always perfectly put together, perfectly photographed, perfectly shaped, perfectly etc...

Should I go on?

Hollywood seems to thrive on being thin. Numerous celebrities have or have suffered from eating disorders and bad body image, celebrities such as: Demi Lovato, Paula Abdul, Nicole Richie, Elton John, Kate Winslet, Kelly Clarkson, Princess Diana, Lady Gaga, and many more.

Q: What are some of the reasons why celebrities have suffered from bad body image and eating disorders?
  1. Princess Diana struggled from bulimia in her early years. "I had bulimia for a number of years. And that's like a secret disease. You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day - some do it more - and it gives you a feeling of comfort. It's like having a pair of arms around you, but it's temporarily, temporary. Then you're disgusted at the bloatedness of your stomach, and then you bring it all up again. And it's a repetitive pattern, which is very destructive to yourself."
  2. Paula Abdul's body image struggle was a result of being a dancer. As early as the age of seven, she suffered from bad body image.
  3. Kate Winslet said that her eating disorder was fueled by her peer's reactions to her weight. Classmates nicknamed her "Blubber," and overtime the criticism ate at her, leaving her with depression and a disorder. Since then, she has overcome her bad body image and now embraces her look. "I'm happy with the way I am. I'm not like American film stars. I'm naturally curvy. This is me, like it or lump it. People think that if a woman isn't rail-thin, then there must be something wrong with her - it's such nonsense." 
  4. Fear can also create bad body image. Fear, such as paranoia over competition, can lead to drastic changes in eating patterns. For example, Black Swan, a film about ballet, depicts how a dancer thins her way to nothing in hope to succeed at ballet. Also, for the Jersey Shore fans, Nicole "Snooki" struggled with eating disorders due to the fear of being replaced on the cheer leading squad.
  5. Celebrities are human too -- at one point in every one's life, everyone experiences a temporary lapse in having a healthy body image.

Q: How does celebrities' weight influence the body image of teens around the world?

A: Teens are affected by the "perfection" of a celebrity's body daily. Teens see these celebrities as role models, usually dismissing their flaws completely. When dismissing their flaws, it is easy to be enchanted by the fake exterior of celebrities. These fake and airbrushed depictions of celebrities negatively influence teen's self esteem. Celebrity eating disorders seem to be romanticized and usually aren't described as disorders, making them seem healthy when they are exactly the opposite.

Statistics of the Day
According to recent studies by the South Carolina Department of Health:
  • 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25
  • 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight
  • 80% of 13 year olds have attempted to lose weight

Information Credit to:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Barbie Vs. Real Woman

True or False: The Media is selling unattainable beauty; the perception of the perfect woman seen in the current media is impossible for most women to achieve.


In a culture that obsesses over being thin, that desired body size and shape is impossible for most women. Women often look to popular celebrities who keep themselves microscopic as body role models, and unfortunately they are most often left unhappy and unhealthy when they try to mimic their role models "look." The media's influence doesn't only reach to women, but it also reaches young girls through toys and movies.

Meet Barbie. It is estimated that 99% of all girls between the ages 3 and 10 own at least 1 barbie doll.

Barbie - a popular doll which has been around for a little over fifty years - is a perfect example of the media selling body image to young children. On every kid's TV channel you'll find a commercial for the newest Barbie product. Many commend Mattel, the maker's of Barbie, for having made Barbie dolls for many careers that weren't originally women-oriented. And although this is very good for feminist groups, Barbie's anatomy only hinders the fight against the "beauty myth."

"Dietitians Association of Australia spokeswoman Tania Ferraretto said the 'unrealistic' body shapes had a 'huge impact' on women, but more so on children. 'If you speak to adults, everyone will say we know it's not realistic... but it has a subliminal impact,' she said."

Q: How is Barbie's body unrealistic?

A: Recently Barbie's anatomy was studied. Researchers generated a computer model of a woman with Barbie's proportions. Researchers found that Barbie's back would be too weak to support her upper body weight, and that her body would be so narrow that she'd only have room for about half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman with Barbie's proportions would be in such poor health that she would suffer from constant diarrhea, and eventually perish from a lack of nutrition.

Barbie isn't the only toy who sells a bad body image. Bratz dolls, for example, have even worse proportions than barbie. Her head is so large that with her tiny waist and tiny neck, she wouldn't have the strength to hold herself upright, therefore resulting in her on all fours possibly dragging her head on the ground all the while. G.I.Joe's are unrealistic as well. Did you know that if G.I.Joe was a real person, he would have the larger biceps than any body builder in history.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Introduction to the Media

Question: Other than being magazines, what do these six images have in common?



Answer: They all deal with body image.

To the left is a seventeen magazine from March 2009. On the cover two beauty related headlines have been highlighted, the first being "672 Ways to Look Pretty for Spring - Perfect Hair & Makeup Tricks for You!" That headline is a typical headline for most teen girl magazines. Then, on the right is another headline which states "Flat Abs & A Great Butt By Spring Break!" Considering that headlines sell the content directly to readers, this is more alarming. Being a teenage girl myself, I have read seventeen magazines before and every magazine has a health section where it discusses all sorts of health related issues. I commend them for adding health to their magazine where topics range from beauty to sex to eating healthily, yet it some what saddens me that they also include ways to lose weight (ie. the "Flat Abs & A Great Butt" headline).

Even fashion magazines use body image and beauty to sell their products. Let's get real here - what isn't appealing about looking our best, or as Glamour puts it, "10 Totally Gorgeous New Hairstyles - Because Every Woman Deserves Man Magnet Hair." It's headlines like that that grab consumers. By using beauty, products such as magazines seem more desirable. The media is able to prey on the fact that most women want to look their best, so by having that in their back pocket, advertisers sell beauty tips, workout help, reasons why gaining weight occurs (as seen on the Vogue cover), and more.

My goal here is not to undermine the magazine industry. In fact, I am rather fond of magazines, but the goal of this post is to uncover the real intentions of all magazine covers. For example, recall the Cosmopolitan cover. The largest headline other than the magazine's name said "Flatten Your Belly." While at the local CVS, I scoped out the article. It talked about how to effectively use water to curb your hunger. Basically the water is making you bloated, and although it curbs your hunger, not eating or unbalancing your hunger is an unhealthy way to lose weight. Magazine covers aren't the only place where the beauty myth is housed. Through magazines there are ads everywhere, and almost every ad has something to do with make up or fashion. Sometimes there are even weight loss ads in magazines like Fitness. The media is constantly pushing the beauty myth at us.

It is important to note that all kinds of media use beauty to sell their products. Although magazines were used to show this, they are not the only industry at fault. The fashion world, which is closely related to magazines, also doesn't help when it comes to creating body image. The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds. This statistic came from a previous post of mine, and it's true. Not every woman is that tall nor that thin, yet the media sells women such as that to the American public as being perfect.

Question: How could the media help reverse the beauty myth?

Answer: Use real women as their models

If magazines used real women as their models in magazines, or designers used them in their ads and shows, I think more women would feel more comfortable with their own bodies. Even if women don't realize that the media influences their thinking, it affects every one's opinions of body image.

Unfortunately, using real women as models doesn't seem to be a reasonable request. Too many industries are involved, and although one can wish that it could be easily changed, it will take years to change an industry so built up. And that's where I come in. With that known, I realize that it will be hard to change an industry such as the fashion world or advertisements, but if women are educated in health and true beauty, we can change the world.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Body Image - What is it, and what causes it?

February 1st, 2011

I am pleased to announce that the first topic of the month is "Body Image - What is it, and what causes it?" So to begin let's answer the basics of this question.


What is it? Body image is the way you perceive yourself, and how you think others perceive you. Although body image is typically thought of being a physical thing, such as the way one views their physical being, it is also primarily mental.

What causes it? Since body image is basically the perception of oneself, it can be influenced by any outside force. Examples of these forces, or at least the ones that will be discussed during February, are the media, family, and friends. Under the categorie of magazines are the following subjects: magazines, television programs, websites, music, celebrities, etc.

To kick off our topic, here's an article I found at It's an article that displays the thoughts of teenage girls on body image: Go Figure

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Real Beauty Dictionary

January 30th, 2011
 Before February begins and we discuss our first topic of the month, I thought it'd be helpful to include some definitions. These definitions will hopefully make it easier to see exactly what this blog is all about.

Anorexia - The loss of appetite or the refusal to eat in the attempt to lose weight.
Beauty - The personal quality found in a person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind. Beauty comes in both a physical and nonphysical form, yet our current society seems to dwell on the physical side of beauty.

Beauty Myth - The misconception of what a person (in this blog we'll primarily discuss how it pertains to women) is supposed to look like. Along with it comes the idea of a perfect body.

Body Image - How you see yourself and how you think others see you.

Bulimia - A disorder characterized by binge eating followed by self-induced purging due to guilt.

Eating Disorders - Disorders characterized by the disturbance of eating patterns. These disturbances do not only include or limit themselves to overeating and characteristics of anorexia and bulimia.

Media - A source of information that targets not always world news, but also personal or celebrity news. Media sources include newspapers, magazines, websites, and television programs.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hello, My Name is Beauty Myth

10 Facts About Body Image For Both Men and Women
  1. Twenty years ago, models weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, they weigh 23% less than the average woman.
  2. The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.
  3. If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
  4. About 7% of 12th grade males have used steroids in order to become more muscular.
  5. If GI Joe were human, he’d have larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history.
  6. One out of every four college aged women has an eating disorder.
  7. It is estimated that 40-50% of American women are trying to lose weight at any point in time.
  8. Americans spend more than 40 billion dollars a year on dieting and diet-related products – that’s roughly equivalent to the amount the U.S. Federal Government spends on education each year! Almost half of all women smokers smoke because they see it as the best way to control their weight. Of these women, 25% will die of a disease caused by smoking.
  9. In 2007, there were about 11.7 million cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S. Ninety one percent of these were performed on women.
  10. A study found that 53% of thirteen-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies. This number grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.

The campaign for real beauty starts here.
The "beauty myth" is a common misconception of what both women and men are supposed to look like. These regulations stem from our surroundings, primarily media. And although magazines and companies, like Dove, have been working to fight this myth, women everywhere still feel the need to be the perfect woman. My question, though, is who is this perfect woman? What defines a body as being perfect anyways? By perfect, what do you mean?

Perfection is one of the many things that doesn't exist, yet it remains in our everyday lives, rooted far into our souls. Perfection doesn't exist as a single being, but as many. Being perfect isn't living by dangerously high standards, but by living. Unfortuantely this myth that has consumed society prohibits just that. It kills.

After having read the previous facts for the first time, I was shocked. This summer I spent a little time in a workshop titled "the Beauty Myth." It showed some light to a topic that I hadn't openly discussed in years. Her statistics were shocking to say the least. 32% of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders want lose weight. This statistic among others is what life has come to.

Regardless of the fact that I am still working to find a collaborator for a larger project, this blog is the first phase of the campaign for real beauty. To the beginning of a great battle against the beauty myth.


(The 10 Facts About Body Image For Both Men and Women -