What is body love? What is healthy body image? What does being healthy mean? How do you do any of this? It is incredibly difficult to navigate through these questions and come out the other side with a clear understanding. The reason for this is because we are all so wonderfully unique; that one size, one thing, one diet, one of anything does not fit us all!
We couldn't help but wonder, why did we stop loving who we are? When did our value become our size and sex appeal? That was when we realized we have been manipulated into being dissatisfied with our bodies. We have actually been conditioned to want to be something that is only humanly possible for 5% of the population in pursuit of being happy, valued, and loved.
Check out what Wikipedia has to say about Media Depictions of Body Shape. It will explain everything!
Body shape refers to the many physical attributes of the human body that make up its appearance, including size and countenance. Body shape has come to imply not only sexual/reproductive ability, but wellness and fitness. In the West, slenderness is associated with happiness, success, youth, and social acceptability. Being overweight is associated with laziness, lack of willpower, being out of control, and unattractiveness. Women are expected to be slim, while men should be slender and muscular at the same time. The media promotes a weight-conscious standard for women more often than they do for men. Deviance from these norms result in social consequences. The media perpetuates this ideal in various ways, particularly glorifying and focusing on thin actors and actresses, models, and other public figures while avoiding the use or image of overweight individuals.
This thin ideal represents less than 5% of the American population.
It has been stated that the increase in eating disorders over the past several decades has coincided with an overall decrease (pound-wise) in women's ideal body weight portrayed by the mass media. A group of researchers examined the magazines Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Vogue from 1959 to 1999. Fashion models became increasingly thinner during the 1980s and 1990s, making the thin ideal even more difficult for women to achieve. Photos depicting the models' entire bodies significantly increased in number from the 1960s to the 1990s. From 1995 to 1999 models were dressed in far more revealing outfits than they were from 1959 to 1963.
Women's magazines have been criticized for their conflicting messages, with an emphasis on food, cooking, child rearing, and entertaining. 75% of women's magazines contain at least one ad or article about how to alter one's appearance through cosmetic surgery, diet, or exercise. 25% of the women's magazines surveyed included tips for dieting or messages about weight loss. Many women's magazines focus on how to lead a better life by improving physical appearance. Men's magazines provide information about hobbies, activities, and entertainment in order for men to better their lives.
Much of the research pertaining to how the media effects body image examines the change in models and magazine articles over time. Garner, Garfinkel, Schwartz, and Thompson paid particular attention to the difference in body shape of Playboy centerfolds over a 20-year period. They found that over the years, the body mass, bust, and hip measurements decreased; however, the height increased. They also determined that the Playboy centerfolds were 13%-19% lower than the normal body weight for women of their age (Cusumano, Thompson 1997). Other studies found that over the years, magazines like Seventeen, YM, and Cosmopolitan all had an increase in articles pertaining to diet and exercise. Anderson and DiDomenico (1992) compared women’s and men’s popular magazines and found that diet and exercise articles appeared more than 10 times as much in women’s magazines than men’s.
Modeling and fashion industries have come under fire in recent years for embracing and promoting an ultra-thin appearance. The majority of elite models are around 20% underweight, which exceeds the anorexia nervosa indicator of 15% underweight. Many models have died due to complications from their dangerously underweight bodies, including Isabelle Caro.
In 28 prime time situational comedies analyzed by researchers in 2002, 33% of the central female characters were below average weight. As the thinness of a female character increased, the number of compliments she received from men did as well. Research has shown below average weight female characters are over represented, while above average weight female characters are underrepresented in situational comedies as compared to the norms of the US population. Prime time television shows that appeal to a primarily female audience, such as Friends or Ally McBeal are helmed by young, attractive, and thin women. Extremely skinny or emaciated women are shown on fashion industry related shows, like House of Style.
Male characters often negatively comment on average and above average weight females' body shapes and weights and audiences usually react by laughing. Male characters are not immune to unfair representation. 33% of male characters were below average weight and 13% were above average weight. By comparison, approximately 30% of men in the US are overweight. In 2003 a study was conducted on ten top-rated American prime time fictional television programs. 33% of female television characters were underweight.
A study was done of 10 prime time television programs on each of the 6 major TV networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, UPN, NBC, and WB) with the largest Nielsen audience ratings during the 1999–2000 season. Of the 1018 characters on all of the shows 14% of females and 24% of males were overweight or obese. These numbers represent less than half the percentage of overweight or obese males and females in the general population. Overweight female characters were less likely to be considered attractive, display physical affection, or to connect with romantic partners. Overweight males characters were less likely to interact with friends or romantic partners and less likely to talk about dating. Overweight males characters were often shown eating. These statistics are representative of the fat stigmatization present in many US television programs. The small number of fat female television characters that do exist are consistently depicted in relation to thinner, highly sexualized female characters. These characters are used as props, against which thinner women are compared, judged and valued.
In 2007, analysts sampled 135 scenes featuring overweight individuals from popular television programs and movies and coded for anti-fat humor. The majority of anti-fat humor found was verbal and directed at the individual in their presence, with no regard for their feelings. Self-deprecating fat comments were much less common than those about or directed at another person. Male character were three times more likely to engaged in fat commentary than female characters. Media programs containing fat stigmatization content often are popular and have high ratings, suggesting that the general public finds it acceptable to overlook such remarks in the context of the story.
According to Renee Hobbs, EdD, associate professor of communications at Temple University, the average teen girl gets about 180 minutes of media exposure daily and only about 10 minutes of parental interaction a day. Girls often take drastic measures in an attempt to become like the media images they view. Many end up with very low self-esteem and dangerous eating disorders. Elissa Gittes, MD, a pediatrician in the division of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh says "We're seeing girls at younger ages starting to be dissatisfied with their bodies, proactively trying to change them, and feeling like they need to emulate something different than what their bodies can do."
In 2009 a content analysis of 150 top-selling video games found that games rated for children depicted female characters as significantly thinner than female characters in games rated for adults. Females in video games had significantly larger heads, but smaller chest sizes, waists, and hips than the average American woman.
In 2001 British newspaper The Independent wrote about the silhouette of American TV stars like Calista Flockhart and Sarah Jessica Parker and compared it to that of the women in Pop group Destiny's Child saying, "The lollipop silhouette long-favored by the female stars of American sitcoms, which involves disproportionately large heads wobbling atop stick-thin bodies does not say rich and it doesn’t say clever. It says take me to a clinic. The New Athleticism, however, sends out a rather different set of messages: strong, confident, independent woman."
Surgeon General Richard Carmona speaks of obesity as the "terror within" and says "unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9–11 or any other terrorist attempt." The news media has been criticized for its alarmist and overly dramatized reporting on the issue of weight and obesity. By using key words such as "war" or "epidemic" in their reporting, the news media attracts greater attention to the issue. News reports likely reinforce the stigma of fat bodies, linking them to disease and likening fatness to a health behavior instead of an unalterable trait.
In September 2011 nationally syndicated columnist Michael Kinsley, the founding editor of Slate magazine, wrote harshly critical remarks about New Jersey governor Chris Christie and his weight. Kinsley wrote "New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cannot be president: He is just too fat . . .why should Christie’s weight be more than we can bear in a president? Why should it even be a legitimate issue if he runs? One reason is that a presidential candidate should be judged on behavior and character . . . Perhaps Christie is the one to help us get our national appetites under control. But it would help if he got his own under control first."
A content analysis done of children's videos and books found that 72% of videos and 7.5% of books placed emphasis on physical attractiveness. In 60% of videos, a character's love for another depends on physical appearance on attractiveness. Examples include Cinderella, where the prince invites maidens to the ball to select a bride and Beauty and the Beast, where the Beast falls in love with Belle purely based upon her physical appearance. In 72% of videos and 10% of books characters with thin bodies have desirable traits. In 84% of videos and 10% of books female physical attractiveness is associated with kindness, sociability, and happiness. While 60% of videos portray female thinness, only 32% show male muscularity. No physical attraction is shown between a slender character and an obese character, with the exception of Beauty and the Beast.
In 64% of children's videos and 20% of books obesity is related to negative traits. Obese characters are often shown as evil, unfriendly, cruel, and unattractive. Ursula from The Little Mermaid is an obese, unattractive octopus. In 40% of videos and 20% of books at least one obese character is disliked by others. Obese characters are shown thinking about food or depicted in setting related to food in 52% of videos and 20% of books. Children's media is perpetuating the "what is beautiful is good" stereotype through its portrayals of thin and obese characters.
Lasting effects on viewers
Approximately 92% of women feel pressure to conform to the standards of beauty which the media perpetuates. After viewing images of women with "ideal" body weights, 95% of women overestimate their body size and 40% overestimate the size of their waist, hips, cheeks, or thighs. Those with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, show a significant increase in overestimation of body size after viewing such images. Similarly males who are exposed to body-related advertisements show an increase in body dissatisfaction and depression. Men shown advertisements containing images of exceptionally muscular men were shown to be dissatisfied with their own musculature, not their body fat, after viewing such advertisements. This finding is consistent with previous evidence that states muscularity is more important than body fat in men's body satisfaction.
The correlation between media image and body image has been proven; in one study, among European American and African American girls ages 7 – 12, greater overall television exposure predicted both a thinner ideal adult body shape and a higher level of disordered eating one year later. Adolescent girls are the most strongly affected demographic; “More and more 12-year-old girls are going on diets because they believe what you weigh determines your worth,” Cutler observed. “When all you see is a body type that only two percent of the population has, it’s difficult to remember what’s real and what’s reasonable to expect of yourself and everyone else.”
Put simply, the beauty ideal in American culture is: thin. “Large populations of ‘average’ girls do not demonstrate clinically diagnosable eating disorders—pathologies that the culture marks as extreme and unhealthy—but rather an entirely normative obsession with body shape and size,” Cutler said. “This ongoing concern is accepted as a completely normal and even inevitable part of being a modern girl. I think we need to change that.”
HNS believes that in order to truly love yourself you need to be aware that you were born loving yourself. Along the way you have been manipulated to believe otherwise. You have an opportunity to activate your free will and realize that you and only you get to decide what you think is beautiful and what is best for your body. Body Love is not about being perfect it is about starting fresh on a clean slate and building a new relationship with your body from a place of love. When you operate from a place of love you will make choices that nourish your body, mind, and soul. No matter how unhealthy you have been, or how hard you have been on your body, you can heal from the inside out.
Men say "There is nothing like a woman's love." The Universe says "There is nothing like a woman who loves herself." Never underestimate the power of your love.
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