Skinny Models- Eating Hard or Hardly Eating?
Many media sites and publishing’s have been arguing about this topic, but I am handing the all-important question over to you: do you believe that skinny models send an unhealthy message about weight to their fans/viewers? I believe that the stick-thin models embracing our runways and TV shows with their “beauty” are definitely sending a message to their viewers- and not a good one. Anybody can switch on their TV or flick a few pages in a magazine and be confronted with the tabloid’s definition of perfection- usually someone with a gap between their thighs and a stomach as flat as an ironing board, topped off with the perfect bikini or a nice shirt to show off their collarbones. But the sources of these photographs don’t realise how seriously showing models this skinny will affect the viewers.
Imagine you’re sitting down on your couch or at the hairdressers, and you pick up a magazine. Nothing unusual, right? You look down at the cover and see a beautiful, skinny girl on the cover, with some sort of caption like “Mila Kunis’ beauty tips!”, or “How to get the perfect Cara Delevingne Body”. You get interested, flipping the magazine open to see what’s there, and pass an unflattering photo of a model. Your eyes scan the negative comments about how big her hips look, or how she hasn’t fully worked off her pregnancy weight yet. You look down at your stomach- surely she can’t be any bigger than you.
She’s a model! This happens to thousands of girls every day, and is one of the main reasons that eating disorders can appear. The thing is, models have worked up such a reputation that, unless they are specifically a ‘plus-size model’, people will automatically imagine them stick thin and beautiful. This (mixed with the critical comments about bigger girls in the media’s spotlight) triggers something in the brain that makes many people feel the need to be as skinny as their ‘idols’, and will ultimately do anything to reach that goal- even if it involves binge eating, vomiting after meals, or skipping meals completely. But little do these girls know, that eating disorders are a mental illness, just like depression or schizophrenia, and will eventually kill them. First of all, just in case you didn’t know, or were confused by the idea, the definition of ‘eating disorder’ is the following: “eating disorder noun any of various disorders, as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, characterized by severe disturbances in eating habits.
” an eating disorder will not occur by skipping one meal, or by just wanting to be skinnier. Do you ever wonder how people’s absolute obsessions with skinniness were brought on so fast? I do. Only fifty years ago, Marilyn Munroe was one of the most beautiful celebrities there was- in a size fourteen dress. Her dress size was argued about for years after her death, proving hard to determine because Marilyn had her wardrobe custom made to fit her hour glass figure perfectly, but after many attempts it was proven similar to the sizes of an Australian fourteen. Since her death in 1962, celebrities have become skinnier and skinner, and the rate of eating disorders has gotten higher and higher.
In the ten years between 1995 and 2005 the rate of eating disorders doubled worldwide- and during that time many modelling shows had been released, like America’s Next Top Model in 2003. In 1998, only 38 months after television came to Nadraga, Fiji, fifteen percent of girls (averaged 17 years old) admitted to vomiting to control their weight. Seventy-four percent of the girls reported feeling “too big and fat” at least sometimes. Fiji has only one TV channel, airing mostly American, Australian and British television programs, including multiple fashion and beauty programs. I wouldn’t call that a coincidence.
Many fashion shows- especially in Milan, Italy- will only let models walk if they are a certain clothing size. They set very strict diets for their models, and will not let them eat before they go on stage in case of bloating. Because of this, in the span of 20 years there are 15 listed models that have died from anorexia nervosa (an obsessive case of anorexia); and many more unreported. Abercrombie & Fitch (a popular American Clothing Store) does not stock XL or XXL sizes (that’s size 16 and up) because they don’t want ‘overweight’ or ‘unattractive’ people wearing their brand. Although recently, some companies are trying to put a stop to this image of perfection- Vogue has banned models that are ‘too skinny’ from appearing in their magazine, some small-scale fashion shows will not allow models to go on if they haven’t eaten, and TV shows that screen real-life problems (I’m talking Glee here) have recently started showing what it’s like to be a teenager with an eating disorder, in fact one of the last episodes shown featured a girl passing out on stage due to her malnutrition. This is a slow process though, and it makes you wonder how long and how many more models are going to starve it is going to take to have real effect.
When someone says to you that models are effecting people worldwide, you would probably think of people in their teens or older, right? But no, a shocking survey completed not long ago revealed that 80% of children that are ten years old are scared of being fat. Ten year olds should be scared of having their toys taken off them, not of becoming overweight. Another study showed that 7% of 318 (that’s 22 kids) are sure to get an eating disorder before they reach their teens. Not only is this false image of perfection in the eye of people 13 and over, but people even younger. In my last year of primary school I witnessed a grade 1 telling someone she was fat.
Anyone can see that this is not the way that these children should be influenced. Of course, people will say that you can’t just blame the skinny models for putting this image into people’s heads; that people’s comments can cut someone down for being ‘fat’. It happens on social media sites every day. This is true, but have they ever considered where their image of beauty and perfection came from? Skinny models are everywhere nowadays, and it is nearly impossible to filter them out. TV beauty ads, modelling shows, magazines, celebrities, even photos on billboards will usually contain beautiful, skinny people. Although they are not known for being models, they are still playing the role, and people can be brainwashed about this false beauty without even realising.
In fact the problem is made worse by the society calling people out on being overweight, or even the slightest bit chubby. Not only is someone comparing themselves to celebrities and trying to look as good as them, but people are bringing them down for not reaching their level of (most likely photo shopped anyway) perfection. So I say to models everywhere- pick up the chips and order the dessert you were about to pass up, and help make people everywhere feel better about themselves.