Fashion magazines display unrealistic body image
Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 23:02
With spring break just around the corner, the gyms are overcrowded and the salad bars are empty. But who says you have to be skinny to go on vacation? Today's media outlets bombard everyone, specifically young woman, with images picturing unattainable body standards.
In the past few years, many media images have sparked controversy. Pictures are almost always airbrushed and altered before they hit the pages of magazines. A Ralph Lauren ad that came out last year showed a model whose head appeared to be larger than her hips. In reality, the 23-year-old model was proportionate and, while also thin, not the ghastly woman pictured in the ad. Young women are told to love their bodies and be confident about themselves, but images like these surface and contribute to the increasing epidemic of eating disorders and low self-esteem in our country.
Ralph Lauren isn't the only guilty party though. Many magazine-cover celebrities have been rumored to be perfected with Photoshop. Demi Moore was featured last November in "W" magazine, but without a chunk of her hip. Though Moore and the magazine both claim the accusations were false, the photo speaks for itself. The sarong that lies over her hip appears to hang in mid-air post-touch up, making her body look unnatural and impossibly thin. The average girl can't compete with having personal trainers and dietitians, let alone someone to digitally smooth over every flaw. Comparing bodies with magazine covers like this can only be detrimental.
Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkson have also found themselves amidst controversy. When the 3-D poster came out for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," critics spoke out about the bust-line increase Watson seemed to undergo. When compared to the official movie poster, it appeared that Hermione Granger had grown a full cup size. Warner Brothers must have been desperate for advertisements. Needlessly so, however; the movie made more than $58.4 million in just one day. Clarkson graced the cover of "Self" magazine, but was digitally altered "to look her personal best," said Lucy Danziger, editor in chief. If personal best means almost 15 pounds leaner, "Self" was right on.
According to the National Eating Disorders Web site, the leading on-line educator on eating disorders, fashion models are thinner than 98 percent of American women. The average woman in the US is 5-foot-4 and weighs 140 pounds. The average model, on the other hand, is 5-foot-11 and weighs 117 pounds. That is a large disparity, and yet typical women and girls look to those on the runway and in fashion magazines to compare themselves. These waif-like models can't even be perfect; they are airbrushed just like the celebrities who share the spotlight.
But little seems to be happening in response to the criticism of the industry. The company on the forefront, Dove, has released an ad that shows the sped-up beautification of an unexceptional woman into a gorgeous face on a billboard. They apply layers of make-up and hair spray, which makes the woman pretty, but they don't stop there. The woman's photo is then retouched on the computer; her eyes are made bigger and her neck elongated.
"The video was eye-opening, just to see the transformation helped me to realize that what we see in the media is most likely fake," said Meaghan Graham, a 4th- semester physiology and neurobiology major. "It creates a standard real people can't live up to."
But on its own Dove can only do so much by itself to help revolutionize today's media.Their message is appreciated, but needs to be brought to the next level. Somehow, there is still no national outcry on the media's portrayal of beauty. France, and now England, have passed laws banning excessively thin models from being hired. The Counsel of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA) has also put a "health initiative" into play. But these are only guidelines and don't do anything to stop unhealthy individuals from getting work until they have achieved an appropriate weight.
The industry can't change overnight; photos will still continue to be retouched and models will still discontinue eating. But college students can take a stand. Be more critical of the Victoria's Secret angels and less critical of who you see in the mirror. It's only fair: you don't have people willing to alter your image to make you look your personal best.