After reading Susan Douglas’ book Enlightened Sexism, it really opened my eyes to how harmful reality television is to our perceptions of reality. About The Bachelor, Douglas states “it is simply a given that all of the women are between twenty-one and thirty-five, slim, conventionally beautiful, and look really good in a bikini and hot tub” (200).
I have always had trouble understanding why these women voluntarily subject themselves to watching their potential future husband date dozens of other women. They sit back and watch the man that they adoringly take other women on dates and shower them with gifts and special attention. This seems to be the exact opposite of reality to me.
What happens if women everywhere start to believe that they should look and behave like these “bachelorettes”? What if women and men start to believe that this is what true love and happiness looks like?
Marilyn Monroe….the worlds biggest icon! Her tummy isn’t tightly toned, her thighs touch, her arms aren’t skinny, she has stretch marks and her boobs aren’t perky. She is known as one of the MOST BEAUTIFUL women in history. Be confident girls. You are HOT, you are SEXY, you are a Marilyn so do not let any man, media or moment of judgement ever take away your confidence!
Christina Aguilera has recently opened about her struggles with weight and the pressure put on her by record industry execs to stay super skinny. In an interview last year with Billboard magazine, she admitted that during the promotion of her 2002 album, Stripped, “I got tired of being a skinny, white girl” and gained 15 pounds.
Christina said her label bosses flipped out over her sudden weight gain. “They called this serious emergency meeting about how there was a lot of backlash about my weight.” Aguilera said that the label’s executives told her that no one would buy her records or come to her live shows if she was heavy, and that would impact the livelihood of hundreds of people. She said further that she was so young at the time that she didn’t know how to stand up to the stress. And by the time she set out on her 2006 tour for her Back to Basics album, Christina went back to being super skinny.
She admitted that it was only in this last year that she felt truly comfortable in her own skin, and during her time in the studio working on her album Lotus, that she started standing up for herself. “I told them…’You are working with a fat girl. Know it now and get over it.’ They need a reminder sometimes that I don’t belong to them. It’s my body.”
I thought I would share some sad but true statistics and facts that I found published on Radar Programs that document how obsessed we are as a society with the pursuit of thinness.
- 95% of people who diet instead of following a healthy meal plan will gain back the weight they lose in between one and five years.
- 73% of teenage girls who abuse diet pills and 79% of teenage girls who self-purge frequently read women’s fitness and health magazines.
- At any given time, one in every three women and one in any four men are on a diet.
- 9/10 of girls who are high school juniors and seniors diet while only 1/10 of high school girls are overweight.
- Individuals who frequently diet often experience depression.
- 35% of individuals who diet only occasionally progress into pathological dieters.
- 2/5 of women and 1/5 would give up 3-5 years of their life to realize their weight loss goals.
- The diet and diet-related product industry boasts annual revenues of $33 billion.
- By 1990 the average age that a girl began dieting had dropped to eight from fourteen in 1970.
- Roughly one half of girls in 4th grade are on diets.
- More than half of nine and ten-year-old girls admitted that they felt better about themselves when dieting.
- Often, one of the first seating disorders symptoms to manifest is poor body image.
- According to a study from the University of Central Florida, nearly 50% of girls aged three to six were already concerned about their weight.
- A study showed that women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment each day.
- Roughly half of the women in the U.S. wear size 14 or larger though most standard clothing retailers only cater to sizes 14 and smaller.
- When asked to choose their ideal body shapes, 30% of women chose one that is 20% underweight while 44% chose an ideal body shape that is 10% underweight.
- A Glamour magazine survey showed that 61% of respondents felt ashamed of their hips, 64% felt embarrassed by their stomachs, while 72% were ashamed of their thighs.
- One study showed that women overestimate the size of their waists by 25% and hips by 16%, while those same women could correctly estimate a box’s width.
- One study showed that 75% of women consider themselves overweight when, in reality, only 25% were.
- Four out of five women in the U.S. are unhappy with their appearance.
- 81% of ten-year-old girls experience a fear of being fat.
- 42% of 1st through 3rd grade girls say they wish they were thinner.
- Adolescent girls are more afraid of gaining weight than getting cancer, losing their parents or nuclear war.
- More than half of white, adolescent girls who are a normal weight view themselves as fat.
- Seven out of ten women felt angrier and more depressed following the viewing of fashion model images.
- A study that offered preschoolers a choice between two dolls that were identical except for weight, the preschoolers chose the thinner doll nine out of ten times.
- Children were asked in one study to rate pictures of other children based on attractiveness. The obese child was rated less attractive than a child with a facial deformity, a child in a wheelchair and a child who is missing a limb.
- The majority of runway model meet the Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria to be considered anorexic.
- Vogue magazine stated that they chose Gisele Bunchen as their “model of the year” due, in part, to the fact that she deviates from the typical “rail thin” image. In fact, Gisele weighs only 115 lbs. and is 5’11 – 25% below her ideal weight.
- At 5’7 and 95 lbs. Kate Moss is 30% below her ideal weight.
- Fashion models’ weight averaged only 8% less than the average women 20 years ago. Today the average fashion model weighs 23% less than the average woman.
- 25% of Playboy centerfold models meet the criteria to be considered anorexic.
- Many magazines create images of women that don’t really exist by using computer-modified compilations of various body parts.
- Playgirl magazine centerfolds have grown increasingly muscular with less body fat over the last 20 years. However, the average man’s weight and body fat percentage have increased.
- Miss America contestants have grown increasingly thinner over the past three decades.
- Plus-sized models averaged between size 12 and 18 only ten years ago. Now, the majority of plus-sized models on agency rosters are between size 6 and 14.
- Mannequins closely resembled the shape of the average woman in the 1950s; the average mannequin and woman both had the hip measurement of 34 inches. Since then, there has been an increasing disparity between mannequins and the average woman. By 1990 the average hip measurement had increased to 37 inches while mannequins had decreased to 31 inches.
- Based on their theoretical body-fat percentages, most mannequins would cease to menstruate if they were real women.
- The average U.S. model weighs 117 lbs and is 5’11 while the average U.S. woman weighs 140 lbs. and is 5’4.
Television and Movies
- One quarter of all television commercials convey a message related to attractiveness.
- The rate of eating disorders in Fiji surged following the introduction of Western television programming.
- A study found that viewing music videos featuring thin women correlated with a jump in body image dissatisfaction.
- In Allure magazine model and actress Elizabeth Hurley stated, “I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat.”
- Actresses Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts and the singer Diana Ross meet the BMI criteria for anorexia.
- A People magazine survey showed that 80% of female respondents felt that women in movies and television programs made them feel insecure about their bodies.
I saw this episode of Chelsea Lately on tv the other night and felt like I needed to share it with others. During the interview (around the 2:20 mark) Ann Hathaway talks about how she starved herself to play Fantine in the new movie Les Miserables. She also discusses how her extreme dieting for the movie affected her moods and even her relationship. In an article by dailymail.co.uk I read that not only did she not sleep while trying to lose the 25 pounds, she had even broken her arm because she was so thin and frail. Although she was portraying a character who was dying, I think that these are extreme measures for playing a role in a movie. The film industry has a toxic preoccupation with extreme thinness, and it sends an awful message to young girls of not only what they need to look like, but also what they need to do to be accepted.