“I am so mad that people dare lecture us on how we live, eat exercise, and out goals. All my life I have been raised to see that slim is beautiful, and the only way anyone can really be successful is to be thin. Yet, the same people who put this idea in our head are the ones who lecture us” (1)
That excerpt from Maggie Wykes and Barrie Gunther's “Body Messages and Body Meanings” is a direct quote from a blogger vehemently defending her right to be anorexic. This frightening outlook on life is common more often than we'd like. Such a skewed opinion may seem ridiculous to many, but to some, it's completely logical. Where would someone get the idea that being unhealthy is attractive?
Advertising, that's where. Commercials, magazine ads, and billboards often show models who are unrealistically skinny. These models, many of which are already skinnier than the average person, are photoshopped to look, in my opinion, sickly. Fillipa Hamilton (seen above) was the model in one of the most controversial ads in history. After Ralph Lauren received much criticism for running this ad, they released a formal apology, then eventually fired Fillipa Hamiltion for being...too fat(2). This behavior in the media is what enforces the idea that skinny is sexy. It is hammered into the minds of young impressionable minds, and becomes the only thing some people think about. Advertisers know this approach has a negative and deadly affect on their customers, but they feed into it.
Instead of promoting healthy lifestyles and being fit, companies feed into “skinny is sexy.” Rather than commit to selling products like the t-shirt above once available at Urban Outfitters, companies should run ads that promote eating right and working out. Personally, I believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but I also believe that being overweight is unhealthy, and obesity can be just as dangerous as anorexia. More companies need to start selling Serena Williams as sexy, Hope Solo as beautiful, and Jennifer Hudson as inspirational.
(1)Gunther, Barrie & Wykes, Maggie - "The Media and Body Image: If Looks Could Kill" 2005