don't have to go very far to notice that the ideal for women's
bodies at present is a thin, fit, radiantly healthy, young,
white woman. Just open a magazine, an advertising supplement
to the Times, wait for a bus or subway, or merely walk down
the street. The message of what people should look like is everywhere.
medias portrayal of what is desirable and normal keeps
getting thinner and thinner for women and more muscular and
cut for men. For example, 25 years ago the average model weighed
8% less than the average American woman. Currently, the average
model weighs 23% less than the average American woman. Similar
trends are being seen with men. In the past 25 years, the
average playgirl centerfold man has shed about 12 lbs. of
fat, while putting on approximately 27 lb. of muscle. In reality,
only about 5% of women have the ultra-long and thin, model
body-type. Yet that is often what most women aspire to be.
Similarly, boys see a body ideal that is impossible to achieve
without resorting to extreme measures such as taking steroids.
have a huge impact on enforcing the media's "ideal"
body. See what a recent visit to the websites of 2 major magazines
website offers a section entitled "Beauty Q &
A." The Body Beauty segment offers 23 tips to ensure
that every woman can find at least one imperfection with
her body. It includes some expected results, such as dealing
with zits and tips for leg-shaving, but from there it
goes full-throttle into extremes such as "Smoothing
Lumpy Thighs," "Butt Blemishes," and "Furry
Arm Alarm." They were even able to sneak in the topic
of "Removing His Back Hair," so girls can worry
about "fixing" their boyfriend's/husband's body
image as well as their obsessing over their own.
Health's website revealed 6 separate images of guys
with rock solid abs on the opening page alone. One of
the links on the front page promises the secrets to "Look
Like a Men's Health Cover Model." When navigating
the site, a pop-up ad appeared stating "Go From Plump
to Pumped in 9 weeks." The list goes on and on. Even
more bothersome is that clicking on most links bring you
first to a magazine subscription page where they offer
10 Free "Power Reports" which include "Instant
Physical Fixes," "The Laws of Leaness",
and of course, "The Secrets of Awesome Abs."
stats on the weights of models vs. people are from the Student
Nutrition Action Committee at UCLA