Distorted body image is the hallmark of eating disorders, and there's so much more the media can do to stop its ravages. Image courtesy of holohololand at freedigitalphotos.net
Body image issues unfortunately are still an issue today, that cause countless girls, women, boys and men to feel ashamed and dissatisfied with their shape.
At the extreme, anorexia and bulimia nervosa are some of the consequences of poor body image. The etiology of eating disorders is no doubt more complex than desiring thinness alone.
Nonetheless, when I watch fashion designers’ clothing and the practically skeletal, unrealistically tall women they are meant to cloth, I wonder whether we really have come that far down the road in fighting the battle against eating disorders.
I for one, as a five foot one, size 14-16 would love to see clothing made for women (and men) of all shapes and sizes.
Afte rall we are the consumers. It almost makes me wonder if those catwalk runs are designed almost purely to instil a sense of inferiority into women, in particular. We have been made to feel the lesser sex in so many ways – the push for thinness, though also affecting men, predominately has plummeted countless women into self-loathing with regard to their body. Women are paid less. When we see the news, there are tiny-waisted women, at least, looking under the age of thirty-five, next to middle aged men.
Even if it is an unconscious influence that affects women, we can’t help but be affected. Every channel we turn to, how many size 18 women are there as news-readers, presenters? Even Oprah Winfrey’s weight was somehow felt to be the business of the media – as she struggled with yo-yo dieting and fluctuations in weight. I fail to see how any of that should be any one’s business.
How can we help to stop the countless messages which still are out there that pressure society to be unrealistically underweight?
1. Get rid of those ridiculous looking manequins who are seven feet tall and would probably weigh forty kilograms. Instead fashion clothing manequins of all body types
2. Have news readers, presenters, people in ads of all shapes and sizes.
3. Focus on health rather than weight loss in ads like ‘light and easy’ and ‘weight watchers’
4. Get rid of the idea of a diet. By definition, a diet can only last so long. Instead we should be focussing on adopting a healthy diet we can maintain for reasons of well-being rather than weight loss.
5. Praise our girls (and our boys) for other attributes like good leaderships skills, kindness to others, accepting behaviour.
Too many women (and men) have died of eating disorders. Too many have revolved their self-esteem around their weight and looks.
We need to stop this ridiculousness. We know the problems it can cause – there are no more excuses to continue to push for an unrealistically thin ideal.