Media, Body Image, Eating Disorders and Dove

Before & After.

Before & After.

“I love everything about myself – my face, my hair, my body, my straight legs”, – you can hear this phrase only from defunct fairyland. Have you ever met a woman saying these things about herself? Me neither. And taking into account that no women neither men are perfect, this insecure behavior could be accepted. But who said we are not perfect? Where are these border lines of perfection and who has the right to set them?

An average person sees around 5,000 advertisements in one week, whether these images are from billboards, magazines, television or internet. A good advertising should lead us into a dream world, it creates in our heads a false desire of living this world. We let ourselves to be fooled by blameworthy advertisers, by letting them manipulate us with intrusive images: “The face of healthy woman is perfectly clean, the normal bud should not have a gram of cellulite,  the belly of desired woman is flat, etc.” The problem is that these fairies do not exist since 99,9% of these images are Photoshopped. Advertisements influence our minds to believe in reality of perfect images and we are no longer comparing ourselves to locals – our friends and surrenders – instead we are comparing ourselves to skinny models and “perfect” celebrities. And this is where women start to do everything to fit in imaginary stereotypes. Unfortunately, this leads to nothing good but self-distrust.

Same model. Fake Perfection.

Same model. Fake Perfection.

The survey of 5,000 women, commissioned by REAL magazine, found that 91% of women were unhappy with their hips and thighs, 77% were dissatisfied with their waist and 78% said they have cellulite. Overall, the number goes up to 80% of women from different regions that are unhappy with their appearance. This causes depression, mental illness, obsession with dieting, eating disorders and increase of plastic surgeries (more and more healthy women willingly undergo surgery to increase their breast size, plump their lips or remove some healthy but unwanted fat). What is more frightening that nowadays more and more underage girls are suffering from eating disorders:

  • According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 42% of first- to third- grade girls want to lose weight, and 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.
  • According to study in Pediatrics, about two-thirds of girls in the 5th to 12th grades said that magazine images influence their vision of an ideal body, and about half of the girls said the images made them want to lose weight.
  • By adolescence, studies show that young people are receiving an estimated 5,260 “attractiveness messages” per year from network television commercials alone.
  • According to Teen magazine, 35% of girls ages 6 to 12 have been on at least one diet, and 50-70% of normal-weight girls’ think they are overweight.

More likely, if you already became the victim of this story, this article will not help you to raise back your self-esteem, but only soulless people can close their eyes to these horrifying numbers. Luckily there are people who are trying to fight this imaginary world. One of the protagonists – Dove cosmetics brand, who has been leading “real beauty” empowerment campaigns and taking a stand against Photoshopping for almost a decade. In support of that, you can sign the petition “Dove: ‘Make Real’ Beauty More Real” by its creator Seth Matlins, who says: “I’m asking Dove to make “Real Beauty” more real, and why I’m hoping they’ll take a real stand against the health issues they know are caused by photoshopped ads and images”.

Following an idea of real beauty, an American brand Aerie producing sleepwear and underwear targeting 15-21 years old girls have created a new Aerie Real campaign with unretouched pictures. The copy on the print ads declares, “The girls in this photo has not been retouched. The real you is sexy”.

Madonna, Before & After.

Madonna, Before & After.

Many fashion designers started using “bigger” women for catwalks, as well as you can find an increase of natural shaped women in magazines. However, there is still long way to go. But next time, before judging yourself by comparison with Vogue magazine cover, remember that brands use marketing to seem caring and loving, when in reality, they are often less generous and more harmful than they appear.