The phenomenon of the catwalk and professional model is well understood within western culture. Often deified as the cutting edge of class, it is often considered synonymous with wealth and social success. The model industry has been plagued over recent years with negativity due to the affiliation with the idea that smaller and thinner is better. This is, however, appearing to change, with more outcry and demand for models of a larger and more “realistic” size. Due to increased exposure on the subject, the modelling industry could be seeing a period of upheaval. There are countless stories of models starving themselves down to smaller sizes in the elusive pursuit of perfection. This is almost a romanticized subject within the west, leading to an enormous problem for impressionable and young people. Tying in their social success with how small they are has lead to countless unfortunate cases of body dysmorphia and issues with health and self-image. This issue is global, and undoubtedly has lead to an enormous amount of suffering and tribulation. The pressure to change the image of fashion to something more realistic and healthy is a welcome change that many are encouraging openly.
Researchers within Durham University performed a study (see study here) on over one hundred women, have provided interesting results. Women who tended towards preferring thin bodies showed much less interest in much smaller sized women after seeing plus size models in catalogues. On the other hand, showing slimmer models increased the desire for thin builds. This fascinating result showed just how much we draw our opinions from media in cases like these. This fascinating result was commented on by Dr Lynda Boothroyd, of the Durham University Psychology department: “This really gives us some food for thought about the power of exposure to super-slim bodies. There is evidence that being constantly surrounded through the media by celebrities and models who are very thin contributes to girls and women having an unhealthy attitude to their bodies. “
The benefits of this study and its confirmations are quite far reaching indeed. Bringing awareness of the public move towards more healthy sizes is certainly a positive. This study, however, helps bring awareness to just how impressionable people are. While some may find themselves challenged or made uneasy by this study, it is important to be aware of how much influence we draw from our media. We are far from unimpressionable, and we certainly subconsciously draw our opinions and habits from what we watch and read. Studies like this bringing attention to that fact can help arm people with the knowledge to choose their media content and in so bring themselves towards a healthier mindset. As this taboo is more openly challenged and understood from different angles, it is pleasant to expect that the issue of anorexia will gain more attention in the public eye. Bringing understanding and the clear offer of help to troubled teenagers or afflicted people of any age is an exemplary cause and is sure to benefit countless people across the UK and the world.
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