The Superpower of Supermodels

We see them every day. I have pictures of them cut out on my “inspiration fitness board” at home. They’re on our Pinterest pages. Perfect women surround us. We cannot escape the realm of the women with the thin yet toned and tanned body, with her big breasts, thick waist, clear complexion, and shiny hair. Like most of my fellow females, I do not see freckle, mole, or stretch mark free skin when I look in my own mirror. Despite what popular advertising has told me about what my body should look like, I can’t help but wonder what is so wrong with natural beauty.   

Aside from the obvious fact that women are showcased in almost all advertisements for print and tv, it is the way in which women are portrayed should be the main cause for concern. As I see it, the real problem with the women showcased in the advertisements and magazine is that their bodies are not real. The proof image, the picture that comes straight out of the camera, is never the image displayed to the public. Companies hire self-crowned “Photoshop experts” to digitally enhance, cover, tighten, and slim every single day.

This overexposure to the “perfect girl” has a dire effect on the girls and the women of our generation. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 17% of high school girls have gone at least 24 hours without eating in order to lose weight or keep from gaining weight. That number has increased 3% since 2009, and I don’t predict it declining any time soon. With the increased number of fashion magazines, reality TV shows, and nearly unlimited celebrity access, the ideal womens body is becoming an almost everyday sight.

The evidence linking exposure to images of impossibly ideal bodies to risk  factors for poor health is growing. A group of college-age women in  one experiment were exposed to “ideally thin”  images of women, while a control group was exposed to normal images. The study  found that women in the ideally thin group were less satisfied with their  bodies, had lower self-esteem, and more eating disorder symptoms than the  control group.

Agencies around the world are taking action to prevent this behavior. For instance, last summer the American Medical Association created a policy that encourages advertisers from using  altered photographs that “promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body  image” and have been found to be linked to eating disorders and other adverse  health outcomes. One AMA board member cited a particular photo that was altered  so that a model’s head appeared wider than her waist.  Across the Atlantic,  authorities in France and the United Kingdom have  considered requiring computer-altered images to be  labeled as such.

With such strides being made across the pond, I had high hopes in my research that America would be doing the same. Unfortunately, my search turned up nothing about American laws, yet a large amount of articles about a new Israeli law filled my search engine. “The Photoshop Law” went into effect on Jan. 1 2013 to prevent fashion models from losing weight to the detriment of their health and the wellbeing of others inclined to follow in their footsteps. It is also called the “Photoshop law” because it demands that computer-generated changes to make models appear thinner be noted along with the images. Although the law targets adults in general, it is clearly aimed at female models. Eating disorders mostly affect young women

Women were created to be strong, nurturing, fierce, compassionate creatures, yet somehow all the focus has been taken off that natural essence and shoved into the tiny unreachable box of perfection. I don’t predict the ideology of “sex sells” to deteriorate in the advertising industry. My only hope is that we somehow shift our views of the womans body from perfection into a state of fierceness in their every day form. Lets face it, majority of men aren’t married to Kate Upton, so why should the women in advertising have to look like her?


-Crystan Weaver