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By Tyler C.

It's hard to look through a magazine without seeing a beautiful woman plastered all over it. It's completely understandable, women are beautiful and they’re esthetically pleasing to both sexes. Men and women, no matter their sexual preference can often times see the beauty in a woman. It's easy to understand why advertisers often use women in there ads. However, unlike men women are often always objectified. The glossy magazine cover shows their beauty, but not much else. Women have more to offer then just there bodies, but the advertisement industry doesn't tell the public that. Instead, they plaster their bodies on billboards, magazines, and on T.V, perpetuating the stereotype associated with beautiful women.

The problem isn't just that the ad industry objectifies women, but that young girls see them and believe that how they need to be to be successful or find love. They become so focused on their looks instead of their intelligence. Women are naturally overly critical of themselves adding to that the image of these women cause them to be overly self-conscious and to create irrational expectations of themselves. Body dissatisfaction affects many women, causing them to see themselves as over weight when there weight is normal. Body dissatisfaction is a term most often used to convey the negative feelings most women get with regard to their actual physical appearance. According to a correlation study by Grabe, Hyde, and Ward approximately 50% of girls and undergraduate women experience body dissatisfaction (2008).  This can lead to eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. According to a Psychology study at Vanderbilt University, there was a correlation found between eating disorders and the media. “The National Eating Disorder Association (2006) reports that in the past 70 years national rates of incidences of all eating disorders have dramatically increased across the board.  From 1988 to 1993 the number of incidences of bulimia in women between the ages of 10 and 39 has more than tripled. The cause of these staggering statistics has yet to be determined, but research has shown that body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem put women at high risk for developing eating disorders. Today in our culture, the “thin ideal” is portrayed in every avenue of the media. Magazines, television shows, movies, commercials, etc. portray attractive women as being extremely thin.” Young girls look at the models in magazines thinking that’s how they should look, not realizing the ads are often overly Photoshop which, makes the models look thinner and "perfect."

There have been several recent ad campaigns that have come under fire for using overly Photoshop photos that make the models look too thin. “The latest such image to cause an uproar is one featured in a new Ralph Lauren advertisement that shows a model, Filippa Hamilton, so emaciated that her waist actually appears to be smaller than her head.”  They not only make the models thinner, but also at times increase their bust size or enlarge their butt. They create images that are so perfect that no women, not even the model can look that way. These images create a never-ending cycle of young women trying to perfect themselves. However, they are trying to make a perfection they can never realistically achieve. A Ukraine woman took these ideas over the top making her self into a human Barbie. In an article for the Huffington Post the human Barbie, Valeria Lukyanova, was quoted, "I am not hiding that I've had plastic surgery. I had breast implants because I want to be perfect.” This idea of perfect has infected women’s minds causing them to act in insane ways. Luckily however, the world is beginning to realize what the media and advertisement industry is creating and new laws have been created. If an ad seems overly Photoshop they are being pulled from circulation. A recent ad done by Lancôme was pulled when they were accused of over airbrushing Juliet Roberts face in order to sell makeup.  Overall, the advertisement industry has more involvement in the way we think and act then many may be aware of. When a person looks at an ad they don’t always think, “That’s how I should look,” but they often times feel bad that it’s not how they do look. Whether woman like it or not their body is often times controlled by the media and unless they stop buying into it, it’s going to take sometime before those types of ads completely disappear.

The new thing now that’s happening however, is that these types of ads are now circulating quicker thanks to social media. With social media it’s not only the ads a young girl has to worry about, but also the pictures her own peers post. Being able to see your friend’s pictures when they’re in bathing suits has young girls comparing them selves to one another. This is awful and its not something that will quickly go away. Social media is here to stay and with so many outlets now for pictures trying to escapee your friend’s photos is next to impossible. The problem isn’t with the social media its with the girls mentality.  Hospital admissions for eating disorders rose by 16% from last year to 2,288 (HSCIC). The most upsetting thing about it is how young the girls are being admitted. Girls aged 10-15, up 69% on last year. One in 10 of all admissions were girls aged 15. Forty-seven admissions were children aged five to nine. It’s a scary thing to think that young girls some who haven’t even hit puberty yet are become obsessed with their weight. These girls are still developing and with that they are also developing terrible habits and false ideas. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, at around 20%. These young girls are risking shortening their life spans at an age when they haven’t even began to live yet. Although, pictures will continue to be posted one thing that can stop is pro-anorexia.

Pro-anorexia sites target young girls and they use quotes that sound inspirational, but are really rationalizations for being sick. Anorexia is a dieses and one that is very similar to an addiction. The girls who have anorexia form a hate against food that keeps them from eating and is a hard mentality to break like that of an alcoholic.  With pro-anorexia and bulimia sites they reinforce what these girls are doing and make it seem like its ok. Using words like “thinspiration” to caption pictures and promote the unhealthy life style.  Its scary because these websites spread quickly and promote a lifestyle that isn’t one that can be lived.  Being anorexia or bulimic completely changes how your body functions. Your body begins to eat itself. The first thing to go is your muscle, which causes girls to become weak and reduces body temperature regulation.  To counteract the body temperature the body begins to grow small whites hairs all over the body to help insulate it. With out food and nutrition your body’s hormones don’t produce properly and many girls stop their periods. With girls beginning eating disorders so young it causes them to not develop properly because if they do it before even getting their period they may not get it at all. The pro-anorexia sites don’t say the negative effects they just post about being thin and why it’s good. The reality is its not. 

Anorexia is a disease and its not something that can go away over not, but if pro-anorexia sites get shut down it will stop spreading so quickly. Social media needs to be used for good and one way to do that is to show the negative effects anorexia has. Post the bad stuff because there is more of that then good and it will help give some of the girls thinking about it a chance to change their minds. Girls that young don’t need to be afraid of food they need to be educated about it. Ex-anorexic and author of the soon to be released The Little Ugly Girl, Elizabeth Kesses-Delport, told Huffington Post UK: “Anorexia is about control when your inner confidence and stability are crumbling. “Kids need to feel good about them selves again. It's as simple as that. Parents and teachers need to wake up and realize that the most basic human need, for safety and security is rapidly being eroded.” If a person is struggling with an eating disorder the best thing a person can do is be there for them and show them that it doesn’t have to be like that. Help them see how beautiful they are and that there are other ways to achieve weight loss.

Works Cited

•    York, Chistopher. "Eating Disorders: How Social Media Helps Spread Anorexia And Bulimia In Young People." The Huffington Post UK. Huffinton Post, 13 Oct. 2012. Web. 07 June 2013.

•    Grabe, Shelly, Janet Hyde, and L. Monique Ward. "The Role of the Media in Body Image Concerns Among Women: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental and Correlations studies." Psychological Bulletin 134.3 (2008): 460-476.

•    Kovar, Allie. "Health Psychology Home Page." Effects of Media on Body Image. Vanderbilt University, 30 Apr. 2009. Web. 07 Apr. 2013.

•    Dykes, Brett M. "Image of Ultra-thin Ralph Lauren Model Sparks Outrage." Yahoo! Shine. Yahoo, 7 Oct. 2009. Web. 07 Apr. 2013.

•    Nelson, Sara C. "Human Barbie Valeria Lukyanova Hits Back At Justin 'Ken' Jedlica's Plastic Surgery Criticism (PICTURES)." The Full. Huffington Post UK, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2013.