Saturday, March 19, 2011
Dying to be thin?
We see it so often that it usually goes unnoticed. We see advertisements on billboards, on television, in magazines, and in subway stations on a daily basis. Whether the posters we see are part of a campaign for clothing, perfume, razors, or anything else under the sun that you could think of, almost all of them have something in common: they feature women who are extremely thin, and often scantily clad. Although most of us are aware of this, we are not always conscious of the effect they have on many people, particularly young girls.
I can clearly remember shopping for clothes with my mother when I was younger. It was always a production, complete with tantrums and tears in the dressing room because I couldn't get the "cool" jeans (the ones with glitter or flowers or whatever the fad was) that only came in the smaller sizes. Don't get me wrong, I was not very overweight as a child, just average. Still, i did not understand why I couldn't be "normal" and stick thin like my cousin, some of my friends from school, and yes, all the models I saw in magazines. Of course, as I got older and gained confidence and a better sense of the world, I got over it. Sadly though, it is not that easy for a lot of girls.
It is estimated that 8 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. 7 million of these people are women. This would mean that about half of the population knows someone with an eating disorder. Anyone who does not believe that images seen in the media are responsible for at least a portion of these cases would be wrong. As Bordo states in "Hunger as Ideology", "It is the mark of the manly to eat spontaneously and expansively". It is the opposite for women. Commercials promoting the female control over hunger or diet products are far from rare.
On some level, the media has caught on to the fact that we are sick of seeing these unrealistic, impossible-to-achieve bodies everywhere we look. Some television shows, such as Fox's "Glee" feature females of different shapes and sizes. In some instances though, so much attention is drawn to the woman's size that it takes attention away from her talent and abilities. The woman's size should not be an issue.
There is a need for fresh marketing ideas in the media industry, marketing strategies that do not pit women against their bodies or each other, or make them subservant to men. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is a start, but many more advertisements similar to this need to be created in order to make a difference. We are no longer "dying to be thin". We are dying for changes.