Growing Up as a Girl in a World of Unrealistic Images of Beauty

I recently learned that 47% of girls between grades 5 and 12, want to loose weight because of the women they see in magazines (according to Anorexia nervous a and Associated Disorders website, anad.com). This greatly disturbed me as a mother of a daughter in second grade. A daughter who already has made comments about her weight. Who has already been bullied for her weight. Sadly, she is not alone. 42% of first graders want to be thinner.

The average woman is five foot five and weighs 169 pounds, while the average model is five foot eight and weighs 108 pounds. The body type used in ads relate to 5% of women. Girls growing up today are constantly bombarded, through television, magazines, movies, ads, etch that they need to be ridiculously thin to be beautiful. Is it any wonder that 80% of women with eating disorders develop them by the age of 20? 43% report that the onset of their disorders started between the ages of 16 and 20.

“I wish that I looked like Cindy Crawford” – Cindy Crawford. Celebrities can’t even achieve these perverse, insane images. Unfortunately, young girls going through puberty don’t understand this. 69% of fifth to twelfth grade girls said that magazines influenced their body image.

Photoshopping is a major part of the problem. You take an already pretty, super thin model. You then add makeup – which I can attest to how much different makeup can make you. Then you photoshop the shit out of her. Image

The picture above is a Ralph Lauren ad featuring model Filippa Hamilton-Palmstierna. She was actually fired from Ralph Lauren for being “too fat”. Seriously. I guess the already had the pictures of the “fat” girl, so they figured that they would use them. The solution was to photoshop her into some sort of an alien looking creature. Her waist, legs, and arms have been thinned down almost to the point of being humorous.

It isn’t just fashion ads and models that do this. Kate Winslet has publicly taken issue with magazines that Photoshop her thin. In February 2003, Winslet appeared on the cover of GQ magazine. She complained about the magazine doing “excessive stretching” to her picture to make her look taller and thinner. Winslet is a beautiful, curvy woman who is proud of her figure. She takes offense to magazines that wish for her to be on the cover of their magazine, but don’t think that she is good enough as she is.

Angelina Jolie was worried about how her movie “Tomb Raider”‘s use of computers to enlarge her breasts was going to affect young girls. Here you have a movie with a female protagonist and she has to have extremely large breasts. Jolie didn’t understand why they needed to take her breast, which already large, and make them even bigger.

The most recent victim of photoshopping is Lena Dunham. She was on the February 2014 cover of Vogue. Even though the cover was a close up of her face, it was widely criticized for being photoshopped. Feminist website Jezebel offers $10,000 to anyone who could provided them with the original, un-retouched pictures from the cover shoot. I found this to be very surprising. One would think that a site like Jezebel would be happy that Vogue was even featuring Dunham. She is not a supermodel, and she has normal woman proportions. The photo was just of her face. Instead of congratulating her for busting through the seemingly inpenatrable walls of the fashion industry. The only other non size two woman that has ever been on the cover of Vogue was Oprah. And she’s Oprah. What Jezebel actually succeeded in doing was body bullying Dunham. Basically saying that she is not good enough, pretty enough to be on the cover of a fashion magazine. There must have been photoshopping. Thing is, you don’t see her body. What you see could easily be achieved with makeup and lighting. Possibly the use of filters. What message is it sending young girls, when you attack Lena Dunham for being on a fashion magazine? It farther tells girls that if they look normal, like Dunham, then they do not belong in the fashion industry. I think we should be congratulating Dunham for trying to bust down walls.

Dunham is not unfamiliar with body bullying and fat shaming. There is constantly controversy about the “excessive” nudity on her HBO “Girls”. Yes, the show has nudity, but far less than shows like “Game of Thrones” or “True Blood”. Also, rarely is the nudity obscene or vulgar. The only real instance of obscene nudity that one could really point out was the episode that featured Dunham and a boyfriend playing topless ping-pong. But that was sort of the point of it. The guy was allegedly to have been the first and only man who ever made Dunham’s character feel beautiful and sexy. He made her feel pretty after a lifetime of body bullying. Saying that “Girls” has too much nudity when it has less than other shows is really saying that nudity is fine as long as it tintilating to men, if it isn’t then it is vulgar and obscene.

What are we telling our girls? Nudity is ok if they have perfect bodies? Until we regularly use normal women in advertisements. I’m not talking Rick Owens using “normal” models on the runway and the press making a huge deal of it, staring at them like they are some sort of spectacle. This serves no one. It is counterproductive. Using “normal” women and then pointing out how different they are only makes women feel less secure about themselves.

We, as a society, as mothers and fathers, need to start making our daughters feel beautiful as they are. With 50% of teenage girls using unhealthy weight control methods to maintain a weight that feel is acceptable, and anorexia having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, we are literally killing our daughters.

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3 thoughts on “Growing Up as a Girl in a World of Unrealistic Images of Beauty

  1. Reblogged this on rcmarylandtrainer and commented:
    The following reblog is from a woman I am learning to know. Her story is not unique but I admire her courage in telling it. Her world is one that is completely alien to me and her openness demonstrates rare vulnerability. Everything that follows is hers. If you like what you see head over to her blog to learn more. rc

    Like

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