Tag Archives: Eating Disorders

The Dangers of Thin Being In

Cp_LOreal_fashion_weekOne of the top stories this past week has been the model whose image was digitally altered to appear slimmer. The 5’10”, 120 pound model, Filippa Hamilton, was also fired by designer Ralph Lauren earlier this year for reportedly being “too fat”. She was shocked to see the retouched image, in which she looks to be emaciated with her waist appearing to be smaller than her head. While Ralph Lauren claimed the image was mistakenly released, Hamilton fears that the effect of the picture will have a lasting impact on women and their image of what a woman should look like.

Hamilton’s fears are legitimate and supported by a great deal of empirical data. In one study, Shorter and colleagues found that women who felt that their body-shape was discrepant from their favorite celebrity were more likely to report dysregulated and bulimic eating patterns. Moreover, Glauert et al. found that women who internalized a thin Western ideal reported being less satisfied by their body.

This relationship between celebrity ideals and body dissatisfaction is troubling given that many female celebrities and models are considered underweight. In an effort to create a more positive public image, as well as help protect the health of many models, some designers have started to use larger models. Last month, designer Mark Faust featured plus size models in his collection and Glamour magazine has pledged to feature more normal and plus sized models. By changing the standard for beauty, some hope to curb the unrealistic ideals held by many women.

square-eye New York Daily News. Model fired for being too fat.

square-eye London Fashion Week and Mark Faust

square-eyeShorter, Brown, Quinton, & Hinton (2008). Relationships between body-shape discrepancies with favored celebrities and disordered eating in young women.

square-eyeGlauert, Rhodes, Byrne, Fink, & Grammer (2008). Body dissatisfaction and the effects of perceptual exposure on body norms and ideals.

Ageing, beauty and women’s bodies

696px-Anti-aging_creamThe recent article in the Daily Mail newspaper ‘No longer the bees’ knees: Should any woman show her legs after 40?’ tells us much about the social expectations of feminine identities. In Western societies femininity is presented, in various media discourses (e.g. film, newspapers), in opposition to hegemonic masculine identities. Although media discourses constitute ‘ideal’ femininities, many women act upon and determine their own individual identities in relation to them. ‘Ideal’ femininity typically encompasses aspects of beauty, slenderness and stylishness, which are commonly linked to the youthful body. The individual can attempt to gain or maintain those aspects of femininity by consuming a myriad of anti-ageing and grooming products, cosmetics and various diet and exercise programmes. As social psychologists, understanding the pressure to conform these discourses exert on the individual, helps us understand the growth of more extreme forms of body maintenance such as eating disorders and cosmetic surgery.

square-eye Daily Mail ‘No longer the bees’ knees: Should any woman show her legs after 40?

square-eye Body talk: Questioning the assumptions in cognitive age

square-eye Body weight preoccupation in middle-age and ageing women: A general population survey