~Body Image~
What is it?
Body Image Self-Assessment
Ideal Weight
Body Types
Tips for a Positive Body Image
Tips for Staying Healthy
Eating Disorders
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Male Image Issues
Support Groups
Diet Industry
The Media's Effect
More than just Dolls?
The Media's Effect
You 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.

The media’s 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.

Magazines have a huge impact on enforcing the media's "ideal" body. See what a recent visit to the websites of 2 major magazines revealed:

Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan's 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.

Cosmopolitan Screenshot
Men's Health

Men's 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."

Men's Health Screenshot

The stats on the weights of models vs. people are from the Student Nutrition Action Committee at UCLA