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

10 thoughts on “The Superpower of Supermodels

  1. This blog truly high lights some terrifying statistical facts that prove the huge impact that advertisements have on the human body image. The study referenced that stated that approximately 17% of high school girls have gone at least 24 hours without eating in order to lose weight, is prime example for the extremism that runs through society. Making the decision to not eat for an entire day, is a mindset that is clearly unhealthy and yet with the brainwashing qualities that magazine and TV images promote, humans lose their common sense. Girls and boys are subjected to an unrealistic ideal from an early age through not just advertising but all other forms of media as well, and this twisted perception of what their bodies should resemble can cause more than just physical insecurities. Self esteem as a whole is affected through body image, making people not only physically self conscious but also self conscious about their personalities, the things they say and do. Limiting oneself so quickly based off of one aspect of their being (their physical attributes) is such a sad waste of a person’s potential.

  2. I think that this post is spot on with what is going on in the world. Unfortunately, nearly every magazine image or photo online is touched up and altered. Luckily, many women are aware that these ‘ideal bodies’ are not even the real body of that women, so people like myself can look at images an not strive to be that way. Some celebs have even spoken out about the retouching process, saying that the body on the cover is not their real image. I will never understand why U.S. magazines can promote real healthy living and go a few months without Photoshopping. I think the magazines will get more attention that way, anyways. For younger generations, eating disorders and depression are only rising and I definitely think that is contributed to the standards that society is setting. I think that as women we need to stop posting “WCW” on instagram of these Photoshopped women–instead, post someone’s real beauty that doesn’t need to be retouched. It’s up to us to help the next generations see what beauty truly is.

  3. Wow this entry definitely brings light to the facts of how much advertising and social media impacts ones self-image. It astonishes me that almost 1/5 of high school girls have starved themselves for at least an entire day in order to perform some type of dieting. Today’s society presses unrealistic expectations and a distorted view on what beauty truly is. The impressions that are being made on today’s youth is certainly terrifying. From television commercials, magazines, runway shows, sizing charts in clothing stores and other aspects of society seen on a daily basis is causing today’s youth to have lower self esteems, poor self-worth and heading down a road of insecurities and detrimental damage to ones self. This blog does an excellent job bringing to life the scary truths of what people deem reliable sources and how much of an impact others have on an individuals life and how they carry themselves on a day to day basis.

  4. I love and agree with everything you said in this blog! The thing that stood out the most to me was your last sentence where you said that most men aren’t married to Kate Upton so why have models have to look like her. I have said for a long time that young men have this unrealistic image of what a women looks like under her clothes. There is no women, that I know, that has a full chest, a voluptuous back and a super thin waist it’s just not realistic, and I hate that men expect such bodies from women. Until reading your blog I had no idea other countries had laws in place against photo shop and using altered images. I applaud those countries, they are are stepping up and helping fight back the anorexia that is caused by such advertisements. Sadly as you pointed out America does not have such laws yet, but in recent news there is one brand, Aerie, that has taken a stand against the photo shopped “perfect body”.They have made a vow that they will no longer use models that don’t reflect 99% of the girls buying their product but now using models of all shapes and sizes. They have also said they will no longer be retouching the images that are seen on their posters and ads around the world, it’s all about making sure consumers feel comfortable and have a real sense of what the clothes will look like on them. I think this is the step in the right direction and can start a movement proving it’s real beauty that matters. Every women is genetically different and therefore we all have a different shape it’s time that society stops telling us what shape we are supposed to be and helping women and younger girls embrace the shape they are!

  5. This blog post couldn’t be more true about how women and young girls see themselves after seeing flawless, beautiful, skinny women on TV shows, in Magazines and Social Media. It’s sad to think that 1/5 of high school girls have starved them selves or been on a diet because they feel they are not as skinny or perfect as the girls or women they see in magazines or TV shows. It is hard enough for young girls to get through high school with pressure from their peers and then compare themselves to the women they see on TV shows or Magazines when in reality it unrealistic for anyone to look as perfect as the women may seem. This is not how our society should look at young girls and women, like the blog mentioned majority of men aren’t married to Kate Upton, so why should the women in advertising look like her. I find it interesting that other countries have laws against photo shop and using altered images, I hope that in the future that America can have some kind of law put in place like “ The photo shop law”. Every women is different in their own way and beautiful just they way they are, media shouldn’t tell women what shape they should be they should help promote healthy beautiful women.

  6. You did a wonderful job addressing what seems to be one of the biggest problems of social media today. There are many thin women in the world, but there are also many other body types. The media seems to be obsessing over this “perfect image,” which in reality is not perfect at all. From women to young girls, it seems like everyone is constantly on a diet and trying to pertain to this image they think they are suppose to be like. Advertisements are creating way too high of expectations for females today. No one looks that good unless they are forcing themselves to have unhealthy habits, or have their photos edited. When these advertisements are displayed for our society, it not only gives females bad self-esteem, but creates too high of expectations for males as well. Males then expect females to live up to the standards they see in advertisements.

  7. I think this post shares the scary reality of what is happening in our country to young women and men through the power of advertisements. You can ask a number of women, and as the facts and statistics prove, they would more than likely change one or more things about their bodies. It seems like women are getting thinner and thinner each year in advertisements. Which begs the question, what is to come? This really gives us insight into the changes we need to make as a country. We should be showing girls from a young age that it does not matter, what shape or size or hair color or how much makeup you wear, you are beautiful. We should be telling young women they are beautiful the way they are, not comparing them to a stick of a model, or an unrealistic image. Other countries are banning and adding warning labels, what is stopping us from doing the same? I had no idea about the Israeli “Photoshop Law” and that is really eye-opening. We should be doing the same thing in America. We need to lift women up and make each and every one of them feel as if they are drop dead gorgeous. It is okay to promote beauty, but like you said we should also promote natural beauty as well. No makeup, no spray tans, no digital altercation, just raw, natural beauty.

  8. I love your use of these statistical facts regarding women today. It is sad that many women, much like myself, feel like they cannot leave the house without make up on. We, as women, are confined to, like you said, a small box that we are expected to fit inside. Women today are expected to have the perfect figure, not voice our opinions, perfect hair, and so on. Thank goodness, though that brands like Aerie are finally stepping forward to say you can love yourself, “imperfections” and all!

  9. This really shows how twisted our society is when it comes to beauty. It’s been a hot topic for a long time. I love how you talk about women being fierce in the last paragraph. Why can’t we all appreciate our own individual beauty instead of trying to look like a clone of a model? We shouldn’t be so worried about how thin we are or if our makeup looks perfect. Instead we should focus on being strong,independent women.

  10. I am so glad there are women out there who are realizing how serious of an issue this has become. I am also guilty of having pictures of these women as fitness motivators and admiring their pictures on pinterest. Women are constantly seeing images of “perfect” women, whose bodies are realistically unattainable. It is no surprise that eating disorders and issues with body image are so prevalent. I think that the laws requiring photoshopped images to be labeled are a great idea! I hope that the United States realizes the importance of raising awareness about altered images. I agree completely that women should be recognized for their natural beauty and have the freedom to feel confident about their appearance.

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