How many of you made the resolution to lose weight this year? Quite a few of you, I’m sure. The question is why? Do you want to lose weight for health reasons? Or do you feel the pressure from the media to achieve the “perfect” look?
If it is the latter, then you are not alone.
According to a study conducted by the YMCA of the United Kingdom, “One in four of us are on a diet at any given time.”
Studies at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts found that 70 percent of college women feel worse about their own looks after reading women’s magazines.
—Brown University website
Though this statistic is surprising, it makes sense when photos go through a process called Photoshopping before those advertisements bombard the mass public.
Photoshop is a program that is used to alter images to remove any imperfections and even decrease the girth of the subjects in the photos.
Magazines, advertisers, and mass media can take any photograph and transform it into the perfect image that ends up in their pages and on billboards.
“I remember after my divorce, I was so thin and everyone kept saying how great I looked. It was probably the most unhealthy place I’ve ever been. So it was funny what people would see as ‘healthy.’ In my worst time, people were saying I’ve never looked better.” -Eva Longoria
Until recently, few people have attempted to stop them from publishing these distorted images. But multiple studies have shown the dangerous consequences of using photographs that are not real.
Research indicates that viewing these false images in advertisements are linked to lower self-esteem, poor eating habits, and depression in women and young girls.
Average-sized women are almost non-existent in mass media. It makes
sense that so many women have such issues with their bodies.
Is there anyone trying to combat the alarming lies that advertisements, magazines,
and television are trying to sell us? Unfortunately, not really.
The Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) establishes the policies and procedures for advertising industry self-regulation in the United States. Its sister body in the United Kingdom is the Advertising Standards Authority.
Both groups are currently trying to ban Photoshopping in cosmetics advertising. If companies are altering photos of models featuring their cosmetics, they are selling lies to consumers. The products they use will never do what the ads claim.
Still, this potential ban does not address body image and the idealized slim models.
One company that openly uses real women in its advertisements is Dove in the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. The campaign’s efforts also include a self-esteem toolkit for young girls on the company’s website (www.dove.us).
Other advocates of natural beauty are some of the world’s most famous actresses,
including Emma Thompson, Rachel Weisz, and Kate Winslet. These women helped form the British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League.
They have sworn against having any cosmetic surgeries to “fix” themselves. Winslet, once a victim of Photoshopping, is staunch in her opinion that women should embrace who they are and what they look like.
There is no easy way to combat the idea of beauty that we are sold. Though one step you can take is to stay informed. Remember that what you see is the product of hours of airbrushing on a computer.
Also, enforce positive body image to younger girls who may be more vulnerable. Seeing a woman who loves her body will do wonders for their self-esteem.
Marykate Torley is a 2011 graduate of Arcadia University, where she got her B.A. in Print Communications. She is currently getting her master’s with Full Sail University in New Media Journalism. For more articles by Torley, visit her website: www.mypompandcircumstance.com
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