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Mixed Messages #1

February 2, 2007

I said I would give my feelings about the Roe discussion I participated in last week. Here is the first of many parts:

At the Roe discussion, one male student put forth the idea that we are attacking the wrong issue at hand. We focus on the question of contraceptive availabilities and education for these women, the morality of aborting fetuses, and the detriment to the health or well-being of the mother. What we do not discuss is the root of this problem, namely the desires that led to the act.

This person was immediately booed b/c number #1- he was a man & #2- he came off as blaming women for not controlling their own desires. BUT, I think he hit it right on the head. Before you shoot me too, I’m not saying slutty girls get whats coming to them. Oh God NO. I’m saying…


And by sick, I mean seriously ill. We are miseducated. And then we grow up disillusioned. It is not isolated to women, but what I want to address over the next few entries is the mixed messages women grow up with that leads them to be damaged, leads them to having very little control of their life, or even the knowledge that its happening to them.

So here goes….

Women are told…
1) We shouldn’t care what men think, we should be ourselves, be confident in your own skin!

….YET: we are continuously flooded with images saying we should be physically pleasing to men, the height of popularity comes from being sexy, and that image of sexy means being thin!I mean, c’mon, who did all the guys in highschool go for? The popular skinny girls!
….THE RESULT: Women feel constantly inadequate b/c though we should be confident in our “natural selves”, those selves should also be naturally the common standard of beauty somehow. Ever see, She’s All That? Prince Charming will fall in love with you once you get confidence …and you turn out to be secretly hot. But where does that leave the other trying-to-be-confident, yet not so super-modellish girls? They search for validation from men that they are actually attractive. They’ll do harmful things to themselves to please those men who show them that attention, like starve themselves or have unprotected sex. You can see where I am going with this…

I will tackle this message in today’s entry. Many more reasons/entries to follow…

Allow me to digress to a quick story…

I used to work at a before and after school program at the local grade school. I would watch the kids as they played in the gym and then set them up with snacks and games after. One day I was handing out a special treat- cookies!- to each child. I got to one petite little 6 year old girl and asked if she wanted peanut butter or chocolate chip. She said she didn’t want any. I asked her if she was sure. She replied- “No, I can’t. I’m too fat.”

As appalling as that sounds, its not uncommon these days. I thank MamaVISION for reminding me of this story and for dedicating herself to the fight against eating disorders and letting people know how pervasive they are in this society.

Younger and younger women are feeling the pressure to acquiesce to a more and more warped sense of beauty. We are flooded everyday with images of the ideal. Products to get you to that ideal. Role models of that ideal. Images of what happens when you don’t fit that ideal.

We don’t even notice anymore. I know I don’t! But today I paid attention again, and here’s what I found-

These 2 are from Neimann-Marcus. I saw their ad on the side panel advertising of hotmail. See the stick thin arms…the jutting shoulders…the ribs…my god the protruding hip bones.
These 2 from the new Victoria Secret line. The first girls arms and legs are twigs and I guarantee they airbrushed the ribs out. Same with the 2nd girl. Her abdomen is concave and she has no chest at all. I thought the point of being in Victoria’s Secret is that you have sexy curves!

The last 2 are from Victoria’s Secret Lingerie line. They make it seem possible to maintain an absolute emaciated frame yet somehow have ginormous boobs. The 2nd girls is sickening. Whoever took her pics should be ashamed.

And these were just pics straight out of catalogs. I’m not even talking about runway models, like this one-

I used to think, well, these girls are not the ideal, some are too skinny, but thats not meant to be the average person who buys these, nor who designers are actually designing for. At least I thought that until I saw this mannequin from Calvin Klein. They got to design their perfect body to model their clothes, and apparently she’s in renal failure.

Then I though, y’know, kids these days are smart. They can see through this bullshit, that this is ridiculously thin and impossible to aspire for. Its only a small minority with severe problems who get caught up in this eating disorder business right? But then I googled ‘ana and mia‘ (a cute name for anorexia and bulemia) where I perused the ‘thinspiration’ picture section where I found this….

**A DKNY print ad by the way

…and then I found their heroes…

For clarification:
Emaciated = UNDER 15 BMI
Anorexic = Under 17.5 BMI
Underweight = Under 19 BMI
Normal = 19 – 24 BMI
Overweight = 25 – 29 BMI

Calista Flockhart 5’6/ 97 lbs./15.5
Cameron Diaz 5’9/120 lbs./17.8
Christy Turlington 5’10/118 lbs./17.1
Cindy Crawford 5’10/121 lbs./17.3
Elle MacPherson 6’0/128 lbs./17.3
Giselle Bundchen 5’11/115 lbs./16
Heidi Klum 5’10/120 lbs./17.2
Jennifer Aniston 5’6/110 lbs./17.8
Jessica Biel 5’7/108 lbs./16.9
Karen Carpenter 5’4/87 lbs./14.8 Did they forget she DIED?!
Kate Moss 5’7/107 lbs./17.3
Katherine Heigl 5’8/119 lbs./18.1
Rebecca Romijn 5’11/128 lbs./17.8
Shannon Elizabeth 5’9/110 lbs./16.2
Teri Hatcher 5’6/106 lbs./17
Victoria Beckham 5’6/110 lbs./17.8

…And at this point I still wasn’t convinced there was a problem in the majority of girls until I read their stats

Source: Pro-Ana Nation
–In 1970 the average age a girl started dieting was 14; by 1990 the average age dropped to 8.

–One half of 4th grade girls are on a diet.

–81% of ten-year-old girls are afraid of being fat.

–51% of nine and ten-year-old girls stated they felt better about themselves when they were adhering to a diet.

–While only one out of ten high school girls are overweight, 9 out of 10 high school juniors and seniors diet.

–Pamela Anderson is 5’7″ and weights 120 pounds. She is supposed to be the voluptuous ideal yet she is 11% below ideal body weight.

–In contrast, a generation ago Marilyn Monroe set the beauty standard at 5’5″ and weighed 135 pounds. [MY Sidenote: You know who else had these measurements? The supposedly CHUBBY Bridget Jones of Bridget Jones Diary.]

–In one study, three out of four women stated that they were overweight although only one out of four actually were.

–A study found that adolescent girls were more fearful of gaining weight than getting cancer, nuclear war or losing their parents.

–A study asked children to assign attractiveness values to pictures of children with various disabilities. The participants rated the obese child less attractive than a child in a wheelchair, a child with a facial deformity, and a child with a missing limb.

–30% of women chose an ideal body shape that is 20% underweight and an additional 44% chose an ideal body shape 10% underweight.

–If today’s mannequins were actual human women, based on their theoretical body-fat percentages they would have probably ceased to menstruate.

–The average U.S. woman is 5’4″ and weighs 140 pounds. [MY Sidenote: I am the exact average!] In contrast, the average U.S. model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds.

–Over the last three decades fashion models, Miss America contestants, and Playboy centerfolds have grown steadily thinner, while the average woman’s weight has actually risen.

–Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less.

WOMEN ARE DYING. They are dying to be thin. They are dying to please men. And we are not addressing this! We judge the abortion they might come in for, but we don’t care that we’ve contributed to their destructive mindset.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2007 5:00 pm

    The information is incorrect in at least one instance: Rebecca Romijn has stated that throughout most of her modelling career she was 140-145, and now that she’s in tv she’s heavier.

  2. February 7, 2007 6:22 pm

    Exactly. This was pulled straight off the pro ana website. The info on these sites are inaccurate and yet this is what the girls aspire to be. But its impossible!

  3. February 7, 2007 7:13 pm

    And the Calvin model, anorexic though that one actually IS, has actually been stretched in photoshop to look even thinner. Even anorexics aren’t thin enough for these girls.

    Apparently the suicide rate for those who’ve had cosmetic surgery is more than twice the average, and at the moment it looks like it’s the body dysmorphic disorder that is to blame. They cannot achieve the ideal, because it is not real. Have you seen the “I won’t be happy till I’ve lost my legs” story in the Guardian? Some people have to get better at accepting they can’t have everything they want.

  4. ST101202303 permalink
    February 7, 2007 11:31 pm

    I agree with the overall theme of what you are saying. Eating disorders are a huge issue and although as a society we discourage them, we encourage them through our role models. When I was an RA in undergrad there was a huge issue with anorexia and bulimia. I once heard a statistic that one out of every three girls at ASU had some sort of eating disorder or problematic body image issue. At a school where it is tank top and skirt weather pretty much year round I believe it. It is very difficult to be satisfied with our bodies when the people we are “compared” to are people who are typically at unhealthy body weights. I am not sure who is to blame for it or how to solve the problem, but I know it is a bigger issue than most parents and families want to admit.

  5. July 28, 2007 3:20 pm

    I have visited your site 770-times

  6. July 28, 2007 3:21 pm

    I could not find this site in the Search Engines index

  7. Dom permalink
    April 26, 2008 5:58 pm

    The models looks absolutely stunning in their own way. No doubt they DO NOT look “healthy”, but the same can be said about breastimplants, people with a tan and overweight people for that matter – still they can look good – the same goes for the anorexic models.


  8. Rosa permalink
    July 1, 2015 7:41 pm

    This was posted a long time ago, but I have to say, I kind of have a figure close to that (that thin anyway) and I eat a lot. 🙂 You wouldn’t believe how much I eat. Some may consider me lucky (not to brag but I have the looks too – I get called ‘beautiful’ a lot – and I don’t wear any makeup – actually look a lot better without it than with it), but it’s just how I am, and since I’m blessed with that kind of figure I’d just do what I need to in order to maintain that – eat healthy, exercise etc (ok, I don’t really eat that healthy, actually eat a lot of junk food) – but no way am I going to try to get someone else’s figure – just my own! Since when was this a competition! I used to want to become a ballet dancer (ballet dancers’ bodies are nothing like most models by the way, and most of it is BONE STRUCTURE), and there are strict requirements, but first and foremost – you must be HEALTHY and FIT. A person can also be HEALTHY but NOT fit, and vice versa. If you can’t be healthy while maintaining a body required for the profession you want to go into – DON’T DO IT. It is not worth it to sacrifice your health for your profession. Luckily for me and many others my body shape is naturally very thin – that does not mean you can just eat whatever you want – as for why because it can lead to all sorts of healthy problems! Same with being too thin.

    Always aim to be HEALTHY, and be in the best shape for YOUR body type! You were made how you are and that is something to be proud of!

    Some people are naturally extremely thin – unless someone is obviously sickly thin, don’t nag them about it – and even if they are, it may be due to medical conditions other than eating disorders, and if it IS an eating disorder – don’t deal with this on your own, get professional help for them! I do think, though, that it is very important not to deny that there are eating disorders in a certain environment (school, ballet, modelling etc) whether they are few or many.

    By the way I am 15, so my body has changed and may continue to change – people grow up and bodies change – and that is a normal part of growing up! Embrace your body as it is NOW (as long a you are healthy), instead of trying to get your body back to how it was when you were younger!

    I do think there are a lot of eating disorders in modelling. Way more than in any other profession – and something needs to be done – but NOT by requiring models to be at a BMI of no less than 18.5 (some, like, me, are naturally lighter than that!).

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