Tag Archives: model

Stress Fracture

Part 1 of Chapter 3 of Runaway Eating: what causes Runaway Eating, and who’s at risk?

Earlier on, we talked about stress and how we women can easily turn turn to food for comfort as a result. Why do only some actually become runaway eaters?

luisa_cerano_ladies_fashionThere are some risk factors that are especially responsible. These are as wide-ranging as the media’s emphasis on thinness as beauty, or as personal as family history, or depression. The driving forces do remain the same. While having risk factors don’t ensure that you will get the condition, it does set the stage, so to speak. It might not actually start a fire, but the tinder is built up.

First, we’ll look at the beauty factor. For years and years, women has been valued for her beauty. From Helen of Troy to Paris Hilton, those with beauty seem to have everything. They have wealth, love, adulation, jobs, and career advancement. Many of us spend lots of time and money on cosmetics, manicures, and pedicures. We flip through catalogues and women’s magazines looking for the latest styles.

The sad part is that to society, beauty equals thin/skinny/slim/slender. Most people cannot achieve the desired  weight. They were not made for it. How can a big-boned woman like Oprah ever become a waif like Nicole Richie? It brings a terrible price, this pursuit.

The writers have compiled a short timeline for this.

Camille Clifford: the ideal Gibson Girl

Camille Clifford: the ideal Gibson Girl

The early 1900s. Thin becomes in. This is perhaps when it all started. Before this time, plump, full curves were the ideal. They indicated that the well-endowed woman was well-fed and didn’t have to work.

The early 20th century ended this trend of round people. Slim, trim, and slender was desired, perhaps to differentiate from the stocky immigrants that were pouring into the States. It was a symbol of good breeding and discipline. Heaviness, the women thought, meant laziness, greediness, and lack of self-control.

Charles Dana Gibson revolutionized our perceptions with the Gibson Girl. This woman appeared tall, very slim, fit, and athletic with a small waist. Her face was gorgeous. Naturally no one looked like this, or very few people. After all, she was merely a figment of the artist’s imagination, based on what he felt the ideal woman should look like. However, women felt bad about themselves or not achieving this goal.

Just then, a physical fitness craze hit the country. Clothes started to reveal more, making women feel self-conscious about their appearance.

A typical flapper, but a modern picture from a costume shop

The flapper.

1920s: This was the age of the flappers. These girls wanted to be free to dance, play sports, and lead more active lives than their mothers and grandmothers. No more corsets, sleeves, or skirts. Well, not really. But whatever was there barely scraped the top of their calves. Women’s anxieties skyrocketed, especially since the perfect flapper’s body was small, slim, and flat chested. Fad diets were in. Self-induced vomiting was in. Laxative abuse was in.

Advertisers took the chance to take advantage of women’s insecurities about themselves to talk about weight-loss equipment, fad diets, and much much more. The message here was: “Slim down and you’ll be beautiful and happy.”

1940s to 1970s. Thin becomes a fashion statement. We know from other reading that designers prefer skinny models. Why? Because skinny works like a hanger. Clothes hang on the lady with fewer wrinkles, while people with a little shape have more wrinkles because of their curves.

twiggy-1

Twiggy

Along the way, the hanger lady became an object of beauty. But no one looked like a hanger. Big problem. Instead of seeing that this ideal was not only unattainable but also quite ridiculous, women conformed it. They lusted after it, starved to fit into it. The result was despair.

Twiggy, a 95 lb, 5 feet 6 teen model, exploded onto the fashion scene during the late 1960s. Her sticklike figure made everyone feel heavy, even slim women. Fashions left little to the imagination. People believed, “You can never be too thin or too rich.” Eating disorders, as a result, suddenly abounded.

Fonda

Fonda

1980s. A fitness craze hit the nation. Jane Fonda turned out her famous exercise videos, urging women to “feel the burn.” The thin woman was apparently not only supposed to be hanger girl, but also have well-defined muscles, flat stomach, and a small, tight butt. Jane Fonda had all these things. Only later did people find out that she was bulimic. However, this look was impossible for most women. Those that succeeded did so only by spending hours at the gym, or starving, or purging.

1990s. Welcome to the era of the middle-aged woman who never gets old. Think about the 40-50 year olds (like Goldie Hawn or Demi Moore) who look like 20 year olds. These woman have an unusual combination of genes, along with personal trainers and plastic surgery. They have set a higher standard: looking your age is bad. You should be doing all you can to look young.

tn2_demi_moore_3

Demi Moore

I can’t deny that. It seems that every single magazine I open is filled with spreads and spreads of anti-aging commercials. It’s not just the commercials, either. Most women’s magazines include a beauty section which will inevitably include some creams and serums which will make you look younger. The product testing department also has a few products. Why? Because right now there’s a demand for such products. We want to look young. We want to look young now. We also want to continue to look young at age 50-60, just like Demi Moore. I don’t think Moore or Hawn are responsible for the problem, but the fact that the media commends them and emphasizes the fact that they still look young even at such an age makes most women feel inadequate for not being like that.

Goldie Hawn

Goldie Hawn

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Playing with Wordle 1

Made at wordle.net, the words are taken from a blog post of mine. I adjusted all the colors and fonts to get the feeling I wanted.

The funny things were that the biggest words were Oprah, bodies, life, and world. Interesting.

By clicking the image, you can get full size.

Enjoy!

wordle1

Runaway Eating

Started a new book . . .

vanilla-cake-ABFOOD0706-dePart 1 of chapter 1 of Runaway Eating: Not for Teenagers Only

Eating disorders is a disease widely known as a teenager problem. Maybe it’s a surprise to find out that eating disorders are not just for teenagers. Midlife women suffer from it. Right now, a disturbing trend involves these older women seeking treatment for eating disorders.

RunawayEat AmzLThe book Runaway Eating by Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., and Nadine Taylor, M.S., R. D. takes a good look at this trend. They also include an 8 point plan to help conquer this kind of thinking. (I will not go through the 8 point plan because there’s a lot of books to read.) This book, is, however, designed to help the reader make informed decisions about health, and is not a medical manual by any means. And if you are suffering from an eating disorder, it’s best to seek a doctors help rather than to turn to a book alone.

The authors define Runaway Eating in the introduction as “consistent use of food or food-related behavior (such as purging or excessive exercise) to deal with unpleasant feelings, and feeling that these behaviors are out of control.” The writers think of this problem as a sort of pre-eating disorder because while the behavior doesn’t match the symptoms of a clinically-defined eating disorder like bulimia nervosa, this disordered eating is marked by a very unhealthy relationship with food.

Often, this behavior is the result of using food to run away from problems.

3533308065_ddc7e89da2Runaway eating runs rampant through society. However, using food as a solution for your problems is no solution at all, as women find out.

Nadine Taylor, a registered dietitian and coauthor of this book, suffered from a mild form of an eating disorder. She was bulimic, yet conquered it.

Runaway eaters are people who otherwise appear to be normal and in control of their lives, yet who have unhealthy relationships with food or their bodies that could interfere with personal relationships, threaten their quality of life, and set them up for future health problems.

By using food to run away from our problems, we find that our eating habits run away with us.

Go on any Xanga blogring or Facebook group devoted to people with eating disorders. You’ll see that they’re populated with young women and teenage girls as young as eleven. You don’t see a whole lot of people older than 30. We’ve heard of the Princess Diana’s bulimic tendencies, and all the young actresses who starve themselves.

However, the people over 30 with this problem are growing. They consist of women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even older! There’s a dramatic increase in women seeking out treatment. It could be because of the growing availability of such programs, and the decrease in the shame of having an eating disorder. Hard statistics are hard to get, because most women don’t seek help until their troubles become unbearable.

diet pills

diet pills

A full-blown eating disorder develops gradually. It doesn’t suddenly appear. Eating disorders range from mild to severe. Most women have a mild form of disordered eating.

Many with eating problems had eating disorders that they never shed when they were young. According to a review, half of those with anorexia and at least one third of those with bulimia carry their problems into early and middle adulthood. However, many women are developing an eating disorder for the first time in their lives. Why?

Maybe it’s because today’s typical midlife woman is more concerned about her appearance. She works outside to home, and worries about being passed over by younger people for jobs, power, attention, and raises. She dislikes being seen as an old grandmother, and may have a fear of aging. Due to changes caused by menopause, her waistline may increase. She’s more likely to seek help for depression.

The most important factor, though, is the stressful life that she leads.

Next up: the many stressful situations a midlife woman faces.

Perfume and Acne Concealer

Part 2 of Chapter 8 in the book Looks

britney-spears-

Britney Spears

How about women of color? 

The ideal of feminine beauty on TV is being blue-eyed and thin. Dr. Carolyn Stroman says that an overwhelming number of models are white. A small number are black, and almost none are Asian. How does this make African American women feel, knowing that they can never look like Britney Spears? 

I remember the L’oreal scandal. People were saying that L’Oreal photoshopped Beyonce to make her whiter and thus more like the ideal.

However, L’Oreal maintained there has been no lightening of the singer’s complexion in the ads.

“We highly value our relationship with Ms Knowles. It is categorically untrue that L’Oreal Paris altered Ms Knowles’ features or skin tone in the campaign for Feria hair color,” the company said in a statement.

Beyonce: lightened or not?

Beyonce: lightened or not?

Researcher Karen Perkins says that these African American women “are immediately excluded from what is considered to be ‘beautiful.'” Her studies show that these women have been affected by this standard. Many of them have warped feelings about beauty and their physical attractiveness. A study of 66 college-aged black women found that 76% wanted a lighter skin color.

Perkins suggests that parents of young black girls sit down and discuss media messages with their children after watching TV. Dr. Patzer commends this advice, and emphasizes that this is good advice for ALL parents, and not just parents of black girls or women of color. I agree.

 

Beautiful models are used to advertise enhancing products, like this expensive ring.

Beautiful models are used to advertise enhancing products, like this expensive ring.

Two professors, Martin and Gentry (I don’t remember their first names), did a complex study to see what happens when both adolescents and younger girls are exposed to beautiful women in ads. They had two products, an enhancing product and a problem solving product. Martin and Gentry wanted to find out whether a beautiful model really affects how a product is sold in advertising. It’s kind of a bit complicated to say here, but what they found suggests that there may be a link with beliefs about a model’s expertise with a particular problem — i.e., a problem solving product like detergent, or acne concealer. Also, impressions they had of beauty had little relation to how much they trusted the model. Meanwhile, beautiful models were useful with enhancing products like lipstick or earrings. 

 

NM-20MK_mtThese two professors did a second study to validate the results of the first study. The enhancing product this time was perfume. The problem-solving product they used was dandruff shampoo. For some reason, although the average looking model was perceived as having a more normal life than the attractive one, the highly attractive model was perceived as more trustworthy. Maybe because people think that an attractive person acts because he/she wants to, whereas the unattractive is seen as more easily coerced and manipulated? Who knows?

blackopal4

Acne concealer

The researchers then concluded that while very attractive models are effective in selling selling products like perfume or jewelry, they were no better than the average looking model when it came to selling products like acne concealer or dandruff shampoo. Marketers need to consider the type of product carefully when selecting their models. They also concluded, unsurprisingly, that more research was needed.

Another study was done by Hilda Dittmar and Sarah Howard of the University of Sussex. They wanted to refute a claim by Premier Model Management which stated that “if you stick a beautiful skinny girl on the cover of a magazine you sell more copies.”

So the two women recruited 75 women from a fashion advertising company and 75 secondary school teachers. Within each group, one-third was shown images of thin models, another one-third was shown images of average size models, and the last third was the control and shown ads without models.

The study was quite interesting, but I can’t relate it in much detail. It involved photoshop and body manipulation, which is stretching out a thin model’s body to make her appear average size. Several conclusions were drawn.

First, the ads with attractive but average size models were seen to be equally persuasive as the ads with the skinny models. This was the same for the teachers and the fashion advertising workers.

Second, although the ladies in advertising were slightly more critical of ads, this had no linkage to the models’ sizes. Maybe it had something to do with the ladies’ jobs.

51JW8PZWG0L._AA280_Next, only the women who believed in the ideal “thin” body felt anxious at seeing the images. It’s what you might expect. They felt less anxiety after seeing the average size models.

Another thing. The anxiety effect was far more extreme in teachers than in advertising workers. Maybe it’s because they’re immune to a certain extent after working in the advertising business for so long. But still, there was anxiety, though to a lesser extent. The advertising workers felt no anxiety at seeing the average sized models.

These researchers concluded that it’s the thinness of models and not their attractiveness that makes people worry.

Dr. Patzer states that these are not the only studies, and that other researchers suspect that many women now resent ads that insist on promoting unattainable beauty, as well as the media and advertisers.