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Archer's experience traveling down the size ladder from 6-0 as she tried on dresses in a boutique for her sister's wedding was only one of several experiences she noted as troubling for her at her natural size, which she notes ahs remained much the same all her life, yet she is also quick to point out that no one should advocate for attainment of the size zero as a key to happiness or that only skinny is beautiful. (Robertson 22) Archer responds as any person would when her very being is attacked and yet she also makes clear that she does not believe it's a good idea for people to believe that only her body type is beautiful or for the fashion or any industry to promote this idea. In addition to this, anecdotal description of the struggles of actually being a size zero naturally some retailers are beginning to carry and sell more and more size zero clothes, as the demand has increased and the industry offers these individuals limited options, especially off the rack. (Feitelberg 10) Yet, I believe that some of this is hype and support for the fashion industry that has been so reluctant, until now to take a stand and be more ethical about the imagery they present. (Pavia) (Derbyshire)
Social problems arise on a continual basis surrounding the issue of body image as some young women are jealous of one another or critical of one another simultaneously and young men have a skewed sense of what is beautiful and what is not. Women and particularly young girls might be so affected that they might make themselves sick to achieve a mythical standard or in the case of men they might pass up opportunities with young women they might really have a lot in common with, simply because they are not the ideal or worse are verbally abusive toward young women because they do not meet the ideal. In fact there have been shown to be many causal factors to distorted body image, but all seem to be supported by the initial causal factors and furthered by the integration of these ideals in both young and old:
"Many influences have been noted as formative in the development and maintenance of shape- and weight-related disorders…These factors include, but are not limited to, teasing or critical comments about one's appearance from parents, peers or other significant individuals, early pubertal maturation, sexual abuse, psychiatric disturbance, negative emotionality, poor interoceptive awareness, developmental challenges, academic pressures, and elevated social comparison tendencies.." (Thompson & Heinberg 339-340)
There is nothing new about these concerns as concerns about the freakishly thin ideal body image represented by the model Twiggy in the 1960s and Kate Moss in the 1990s has been challenged unilaterally by everyone but those in the fashion industry itself. Yet, suddenly and likely in part due to public pressure the fashion industry is beginning to see the error of its ways and the beginnings of a change are being felt.
Any challenge to the status quo is difficult as according to the fashion industry these are the bodies that look best in clothing, in many instances and also they are what we expect to see on the pages of magazines and other media. These are our national and international icons. Yet, these images spark a whole fundamental list of potential problems for youth, including health, wellness, self-identity and even self value problems. Some of these issues can lead to eating disorders, early and arguably unhealthy use of cosmetics, the desire for or obtaining of cosmetic surgery (even before maturation) an overall preoccupation with image and fashion and even early smoking (because it is rumored to keep you thin) and illicit drug use (proven to create weight loss but at a tremendous cost.) (Wolf 1991) One of the most amazing and startling books I have ever read on the topic of eating disorders and body image issues is the book Thin, by Greenfield, Herzog & Strober who document the lives of several eating disorder patients, with personal stories and photographs, diary entries and discussion. (1-187) the work is a tremendous example of what the size zero mentality is doing to women and girls in America and has tremendous impact. Anyone who thinks that size zero is a healthy image should read this book, look at the pictures and learn about the struggle that distorts our ideas of self. If you don't feel like you have the time, go watch the award winning documentary film that is a collaboration of the book, watch the young women discuss puking in boxes and hiding them and manipulating their feeding tubes to get fewer calories. The images are startling and illuminating, and those girls could be any girl, all over the world, as the size zero mentality spreads with the media.
The mystique and reality of some of these models even include the ideal of a lifestyle where bottled water and cocaine are the only things consumed, and young people seem to have little trouble allowing these messages a glamorous place in their minds, unless they are being formally debriefed by a wise person in their life. The problem is real and growing, as plastic surgery is on the rise and the average age of first procedures is on the decline, concurrent with an obesity epidemic eating disorders continue to plague the youth above other populations and body image is becoming one of the number one things that young people, especially girls as early as 7 or 8 think and talk about, their biggest fear, not losing a parent or a best friend, being hurt by a bully or a sexual predator but getting fat. (Wolf 182,193) Another researcher demonstrated through experiemnts that children as young as 2 value thinness and will treate people they vew as overweigt or obese more harshly, and can even have obsessions with their own desire to look thin. The researcher also points out that this trend, first noted in western cutlreus is spreading to other nations as well. (Lau 230) There is no sense that the size zero debate is anywhere near conclusion yet the argument for a restriction of size zero models and especailly those who are not naturally thin but live unhealthily to achieve this ideal, should be instituted if for no other reason than to prove to the world that the health of women matters to an industry that is supported by mostly women.
Derbyshire, David. "Fashion Leaders Refuse to Ban Size Zero Models" the Telegraph (26 January 2007) Web. < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1540595/Fashion-leaders-refuse-to-ban-size-zero-models.html> (18 November 2010)
Fietelburg, Rosemary. "Those Zeros Keep on Adding Up" Women's Wear Daily (10 October 2006) 10.
Grogan, Sarah. Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children.
New York, NY: Routledge, 1999.
Greenfiled, Laurel, David B. Herzog, Michael Strober. Thin. New York, NY: Melcher Media.
Lau, Patrick W.C. "Chapter 10: The Association Between Actual Fatness, Body Ratings and Appearance Perceptions in Children" in Kindes, Marlene V. ed. Body Image: New Research. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2006.
Pavia, Will. "Vogue Editor Launches New War on Size-zero Fashion." The Times (13 June
Poulter, Sean. "Asda is Condemned Over Plans for a New Size Zero Fashion Range" London
Daily Mail. (3 February 2007) 11.
Robertson, Linda. "Its No Big Deal to Be Size Zero." Evening Times (Glasgow) (7 March 2007) 22.
"Size Zero Debate Hits Our Region." Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph (10 April 2007) 8.
Thompson, J. Keven., & Heinberg, Leslie. J. The Media's Influence on Body Image Disturbance and Eating Disorders: We've Reviled Them, Now Can We Rehabilitate Them? Joumal of Social…[continue]
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