Let’s think about this, OK? I suffered with an eating disorder as a young girl. I couldn’t see how I truly looked (or how thin I actually was) when I looked in the mirror as a teen. Growing up, I thought girls had to “LOOK GORGEOUS.” How you look gets embedded and thin becomes the most important thing for a young person. Indeed boys get this message, too.
My adoptive mother put both of us on a diet. I was in 9th grade. By high school, I was stick thin, usually under 120 pounds, a size 9. For 5’6″, this was her ideal. Mother never failed to tell me when I was gaining weight. I ate one meal a day for too many years. This caused my body to store fat instead of burn fuel. My own body didn’t trust me anymore. My mother had this obsession with glamour and Hollywood and she passed it on to me.
I grew up reading Mademoiselle and Glamour and all the models were THIN! I didn’t question what I saw.
My teenager eating disorder still plagues me. I’d prefer to lose weight. My body won’t comply. These old patterns cannot be reversed. My health was affected. My thyroid was damaged permanently.
How women and girls come to accept our own body and physical appearance or how we don’t look good enough is based on media and advertising and magazines. Role models for girls on TV all happen to be thin (usually anorexic).
How do we send them a new message?
I remember subscribing to Harpers Bazaar, and one issue of the magazine had a photo of three models on the cover. When I caught their image out of the corner of my eye, they looked like skeletons!! I am serious. They were so gaunt, so emaciated, so ghostly white, they appeared dead. (I dropped this subscription right away. I should have sent in a letter explaining why and I never subscribed again.)
These messages bombard us and are not so subtle and everywhere – billboards, bus signs, marquis, catalogs, magazine covers. Who creates them? New York’s Madison Avenue usually. The young men of advertising, like MAD MEN. (Actually they are mad if they feed all of us these images which aren’t real and expect us to live up to their unreal standard of beauty. It can only cause us to question our values.)
So we need to reinvent the message and tell girls and boys beauty is skin deep. True happiness is not based on body weight.
Madison Avenue advertising needs to change its practices.