Perfect Illusions Make for Unhealthy Body Image
“The Barbie- doll body type” offers a great example of a perfect illusion. Researchers from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) generated a computer model of a woman with Barbie- doll proportions. They found disturbing evidence backing Barbie’s unattainable beauty. For instance, a woman with the proportions of a Barbie doll would find her back to weak, not able to hold the weight of her upper body. Her body would also be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and only a few centimeters of a bowel. The life size woman would experience chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition. These statistics of reality seem nothing close to glamorous, yet countless young girls still seek this similarly underweight body-type. This is just the beginning of messages sent to young women by the media promoting the drive for thinness, dieting, and beauty. These messages tell “ordinary” girls that they are in need of an adjustment and that the female body is an object to be perfected. Unhealthy body image and habits in adolescents will continue until there are major changes in the way young women are portrayed in the media. The changes in the physical and physiological characteristics of adolescents make them particularly more vulnerable than any other age group. The illusion of the perfect body type they grew up with is now meeting puberty. It is speculated that a female with Barbie-doll proportions would be so thin that she would not be able to menstruate, due to a lack of body fat percentage necessary to do so. Yet in reality adolescents have to battle with puberty, menstruation, and the excess weight that comes with it. In the middle of this, the early adolescent begins to form views on what appearances are desirable or attractive. During this cognitive development the media continues to shape adolescents “body ideal” mainly through the resources of magazines and television. According to the NEDO,...
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