Are Beauty Related Images Contrubuting to Eating Disorder Numbers?

June 23, 2008
By Aimee Ott, Olympia, WA

"I knew that [85 lbs.] was a really low number and I knew my hair was falling out and I had really weird skin. My face looked really weird and I was getting this fuzz on my face and I was always cold-always to the point of uncontrollably shaking," she says. "But I was more scared that 85 lbs. wasn't good enough. I wanted to be lower," Brittany Snow of Hairspray told People magazine.
Brittany is among the 5 million young women with eating disorders in the U.S. That's as many people as the population of Minnesota. Statistics show that 50% of young women read these articles and see the ads. So what does that have to do with anything?
In the last three decades, the number of women who have an eating disorder has nearly doubled. At the same time, models weigh 15% less then they did 20 years ago. These are the people we see everyday, whether it's in a magazine, on TV, or in person.
Modern magazines such as People, Glamour, and Seventeen, along with others, are negatively targeting young readers to sway them to buy beauty products. The appeal to beauty and appearance is strong, and magazine sellers are realizing this and taking full advantage.
The way I see it, girls are becoming more weight obsessed at earlier ages because magazines and ads are saying that "thin is beautiful". They're also, growing up with the idea coming from their moms, their role models, always being on diets, and complaining about their weight. But who knows better? They too grew up with these thought engraved in their heads by the media. But, is it right to take an already insecure young girl and tell her she's not thin, or pretty enough? And isn't it our goal to help them feel better about themselves?
"I know that personally, throughout my life, weight has been a big issue. Seeing perfect pictures of women that I looked up to would make me think, 'If I was as skinny as her, I would be happy.' There came a point in my life that I got so self-obsessed, that I was both anorexic and bulimic, purging when I was forced to eat a lot. The more I saw models- or just skinny people in general- the deeper I dug myself into a hole. By the time I got help, I was so far into what I was doing that I weighed around 90 pounds. Might I add that I was normally 5'4" and 130 pounds, before I began," said a friend of mine.
Stop implying that beauty equals being thin. I feel it's causing the number of people with eating disorders to sky-rocket. If our society as a whole could share the beauty of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and Ruben's The Three Graces where being skinny meant being poor and unhealthy, we would devote our energies and efforts to show our girls true inner beauty, instead of shallow outer beauty.

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