4.26.2013

The Skinny on Body Image

Let's say that ever since you were little you wanted to be a model. Not any model, but a high fashion model who posed for Valentino and walked for Prada. You've always been moderately attractive and slim, but not slim enough. Not to be strutting Alexander McQueen's newest avant-garde dress down the catwalk. So you stop eating in order to look like the models and before you can actually realize what you're doing, you've developed an eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa and bulima nervosa are two eating disorders commonly associated with women and models. The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that roughly ten million women at any given time suffer from an eating disorder. Mirasol also reports that one in every 200 American women suffer from anorexia. Anorexia is also the most lethal mental illness (yes, even beating depression), killing 5%-10% of those who contract the illness in the first ten years, and 18-20% in the first 20 years.

Obviously aware of this problem, Star Models, a model agency based out of Brazil, created an ad campaign called "You Are Not A Sketch" with the goal of empowering women to be more than sticks and bones and to "say no to anorexia".

Picture from Star Models' campaign
The campaign has been getting positive reviews, showing most girls that it is not attractive to look like a fashion sketch.  It's a great way to disillusion women suffering from an eating disorder and stress that looking frail and bony is not as attractive as they may have thought. However, there are people who like how the model looks and could view it as a goal and not be disillusioned whatsoever and rather encouraged.



One could take into example two ladies, Isabella Caro and Valeria Lukyanova. Caro was a model who suffered from extreme anorexia and looked exactly like a living sketch. The public noticed her when she modeled for an anti-anorexia campaign. Due to her extreme anorexia, Caro passed away November of 2010. Lukyanova makes a living off of emulating how Barbie looks. She has only gone under the knife once for breast implants and uses Photoshop and makeup to ultimately look like a Barbie doll. The majority of people on the Internet have expressed repulsion of Lukyanova's body, but from what the media knows, she is a fit girl not currently suffering from anorexia or bulimia.

Caro, left, and Lukyanova, right, represent two radical body image problems.
Star Models is trying to stress through their campaign that looking like Caro or Lukyanova is not needed to be a model or to feel sexy and adorable. But it is hard to take these ad campaigns seriously while television shows, magazines, and stores feature extremely skinny and beautiful people, further giving women unrealistic body goals.  It is also difficult to take Star Models seriously while a Swedish modeling agency is going to eating disorder clinic and recruiting models. The patients at these clinic are under the impression they are in a safe environment and want to recover from their illness.  It is incredibly taunting and cruel to them to have scouts telling them to sacrifice their health in order to model.

I'm assuming none of my readers agree with what the Swedish modeling agency did. I'm also assuming that none of you disagree with the ad campaign or are offended by it. However, the message that Star Models' sent out will not be adhered to until the majority of brands begin to accept real women to represent them. The message they sent out was comforting, but not wide spread and I doubt it will prevent many people from being self destructive.

All of that said, I have never suffered from an eating disorder so I could be way off base. I just know that we will not be able to change our view of beauty without the cooperation of those who propagate the current definition of beauty. This idea of being small (to the point of unhealthy), and thus being considered beautiful, is so driven into the public's brains that it'll be difficult to change anytime soon, which means it'll be difficult to prevent eating disorders.

Agree? Disagree? The talk doesn't stop here! Leave a comment, let's discuss.

I also was to say that I do acknowledge that men can suffer from eating disorders. For the sake of the article, I focused on women. I'm also not skinny shaming. Being happy with your weight is important unless it begins to heavily impede on your health.

20 comments :

  1. Hi Ally! I wrote a post last week referencing the Star models ads - but from another angle - http://jollycaucusrace.blogspot.com/2013/04/thin-proud-hypocrisy-of-weight-bashing.html

    The more people there are waging war on eating disorders and unhealthy body image the better. Well done! :)

    www.JollyCaucusRace.blogspot.com

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  2. This is a really interesting topic which just seems to keep growing, but I'm glad to see that there are campaigns like this which are beginning to fight against the destructive effect of an extreme body ideal. There was a news story in the UK today about a group of sex education experts suggesting that kids as young as 5 should be taught about unrealistic body expectations in the media and how these can be created. I'm not sure whether it's realistic to expect children to understand so young, but I think there is something to be said for being taught early about unattainable ideals. Perhaps both that idea and this campaign are steps in the right direction?

    www.fashionmoriarty.co.uk

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    1. This is a step in the right direction. While they may not actively remember the talk years down the line nor understand it, subconsciously it'll stick with them.

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    2. Also wanted to thank you for commenting. Your blog is just lovely and it's rare to find such quality content.

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  3. Yes I think this campaign is great. I by the way never heard of this real life barbie girl before, it just is scary!

    Love,

    Rowan

    Personal Style Blog www.redreidinghood.com
    Hardloop Blog: www.chicksrunningonkicks.com
    Ps: ENTER MY GIVEAWAY FOR A CHANCE TO WIN 100 EUROS TO SPEND ON SEXY SHOES AT SARENZA!

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  4. The campaign is certainly sending a message and yes, I understand how anorexia is associated with modelling, however I can assure you that real models, especially the top models are probably the healthiest girls I've seen and the ones suffering from eating disorders are still an exception. x

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  5. I am totally repulsed by that Swedish modeling agency, I had not idea that kind of thing was happening but I'm hot surprised. Thank you for shedding light on this issue.

    www.indigokat.com

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  6. It's a very important topic nowadays... Especially young people should get more information about anorexia, about its harm.
    It's very good that you are sharing this post!


    http://makeupdemon.blogspot.com/

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  7. this is quite disturbing and i'm glad you brought it up! it's so important for women to develop a strong sense of themselves so they don't turn to extremes like bulemia or starvation to fix a situation or feel better about themselves - particularly younger girls. i don't know if this is the right way to convey the message, but i feel kind of grossed out looking at it.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you in regards to turning to extremes and such. However, there are many different ways to approach this subject and I think these advertisers want you to feel repulsed so you are aware of what will happen if you turn to bulimia or anorexia. But, it's a double edged sword because these images can be thinspo to those suffering from said illnesses. It's a tricky issue to approach!

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  8. i can't believe they did that, I mean, it's just not right at all! it's okay if you are naturally skinny and lanky but not like that

    www.thewild-swans.com

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  9. This a great topic for a great post ! I personally have been struggling with my own weight and body image but with the increasing awareness and ads/posts like these I have never reached a point to a eating disorder (although i almost did), unbelievable on what the swedish agency is doing ! But suprisingly I've heard of many models that may look anorexic but is actually healthy ! I really am disspointed in the fact that many people now associate being skinny as having an eating disorder, when in reality being happy with your body is the best way to go ! Great article !

    xoxo
    Rei
    couturecrush.net

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the great reply, Rei! I'm glad you were able to prevent an eating disorder. It's disappointing that being skinny is related to having an eating disorder and it's something I really disagree with.

      Great blog, by the way. Your sense of style is cute! Loved the Blair outfit. :)

      Ally

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  10. I cannot believe how revolting (disturbing is just not strong enough - and I know these are precious human beings but what they've done to themselves and what the "industry" has done to them is revolting). I find both of those images, and I'm truly not trying to offend anyone. I just think it's awfully sad. People should be real and healthy!

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    Replies
    1. Don't think you're offending anyone, really. What you are saying is very true!

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  11. Yikes, that scary ...

    I started following you on GFC and Bloglovin' and I hope you can do the same for me! Thanks!

    http://thecassiepaige.blogspot.ca/

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  12. My best friend suffers from bulimia. Its a scary thing, eating disorders. I'm glad you wrote something like this on your blog. It really inspires me to write more about the topics that I feel passionately about, and not just my style. Thanks!Blessing.
    http://sucrebyblessing.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. I couldn't imaging suffering from one, much less a friend. And of course! Writing articles like this really showcases you as a person and get people much more emotionally invested than simple outfit posts!

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  13. The pressure to be thin has now hurt at least 3 generations of women, from the 60's (Twiggy) on forward.

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