Thursday, April 25, 2013

Healthy Sells

hey all! sorry its been so long since i last wrote. it has been a crazy couple of weeks getting ready for finals. the library has literally owned me. haha

anyways, for my english 2010 class we had to write a persuasive paper for our final paper. my paper seemed to be applicable towards the blog, so i have decided that for this post i would share my paper. :)

i hope you all enjoy - be warned, it is a little long!

Healthy Sells

Audience: Federal Government

            The modeling industry has grown significantly throughout the years, with more fashion companies and magazines making their marks on the world. However, that isn’t the case with their models.  Over the past twenty years models have been shrinking - not in height, but in weight. Models are still the tall and very desirous women that they have always been, but they no longer look “normal”. They look thinner than ever, and modeling companies are lustful for even skinnier models. Twenty years ago, models only weighed eight percent less than the average woman, but now they weigh twenty-three percent less than the average woman (Media Influence). The modeling standard has been raised significantly over the years, and it is not only affecting the models. The extremely skinny model aura is unhealthy for the models, women nationwide, and has exhibited many misconceptions to the public, because of the excessive amount of photo shop that is being added to the pictures to make the models look even skinnier than they actually are.   
            I believe it is clear that there is a problem with the models of our society being too skinny.  Our models have to strive to live up to a standard that is completely unreasonable and very unhealthy.  For example, model Kim Noorda, was just fifteen years old when she began modeling. When it was time for her first catwalk show she weighed only 110 pounds at a height of 5’10” (Odell). It is obvious to anyone that at that height and weight Kim was suffering from extreme anorexia. However, it was something that she deemed necessary in order to fit in the tiny sized dresses that were provided backstage. Kim Noorda shares her story herself:
“I was fifteen when I started, and by the time I was eighteen I did my first catwalk shows. I struggled to prevent gaining weight, whereas already I was considered to be a “heavy” model compared with the others. My agent told me I was beautiful as I was, but I had to make sure that I would not gain more. She encouraged me to lose at least some of my weight. I was ashamed that I had to diet. At home I was thinner than everybody else, but compared with other models, I was heavier” (Odell).
It is a very sad story when beautiful and skinny girls are being told that they need to lose weight.  It is causing them not only physical damage, but emotional damage as well.   Once Kim was able to get help with her anorexia, her nutritionist suggested that she gain one pound a week.  Kim didn’t like this idea at all.  Her nutritionist ensured her that no one would even be able to tell that she had gained weight, and Kim replied with, “People in the fashion industry see every gram of fat” (Odell).  The immense amount of pressure that was put on Kim by her agent and her company is sad.  We don’t want our women to believe that they aren’t beautiful exactly how they are.
            The fashion industry’s models are affecting girls as young as ten or eleven years old.  Many girls firmly believe that society is telling them that they need to be super skinny and very sexy. Studies have shown that only eighteen percent of grade-school aged girls reject that “model body image.” It is interesting to note, that girls in this percentage had much higher self esteem than the girls that did accept and strive for the so called model body image. Over 70% of young girls think they need to strive for an image that they will never truly be happy with. Many girls even refuse to participate in any sports because they are afraid that they will bulk up and that it isn’t “girly girl” enough (Hellmich).  They go to extreme measures such as skipping multiple meals to try to unnecessarily lose a few pounds.  Why is this phenomenon hitting younger girls so badly? It is because modeling companies often hire girls as young as ten years old to strut the runways in their high fashioned line of clothing. Modeling companies prefer younger girls because they have yet to develop their womanly curves, which makes them seem even thinner.  Kelly Cutrone, owner of People’s Revolution states that, "Clothes look better on thin people. The fabric hangs better" (Hellmich). Is this something that we as a country want to promote? Do we want young girls to think that it is necessary to be anorexic in order to model? No. We want to teach them to love themselves and how to love their bodies.  We want them to understand what healthy looks like and how to become the healthiest person that they can be. I believe that movie star actress Jennifer Lawrence says it best, “I knew that if I was going to be naked in front of the world [in 'X-Men: First Class'], I wanted to look like a woman and not a prepubescent 13-year-old boy. I'm so sick of people thinking that's what [women are] supposed to look like” (Peiffer).
Modeling companies such as Vogue have recognized this problem and are setting up certain guidelines to help end anorexic modeling in the industry.  They are not only trying to end anorexia, but they have agreed also that they will not hire models under the age of sixteen. They have admitted to unknowingly hiring girls as young as fourteen years old, and they are putting an end to it by requiring their models to have their I.D.’s checked before photo shoots. Sara Ziff, head of The Model Alliance states that the age restriction is important for other reasons too. "The use of under aged models is linked to financial exploitation, eating disorders, interrupted schooling, and contributes to models' overall lack of empowerment in the workplace," she said. "We simply believe that fourteen is too young to be working in this very grown-up industry, and we're glad that Condé Nast International is making this commitment. In addition to agreeing not knowingly work with models under sixteen or with eating disorders, the Vogue pact says the magazines will help "structure mentoring programs" for younger models and raise awareness of the problem of model health. The magazines said they would encourage healthy working conditions backstage and encourage designers "to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models" (USAToday).  Since Vogue has such an influence in the fashion industry, I believe they are acting as a frontrunner for these much needed changes. I believe that because Vogue has acknowledged these issues and have shown an effort to fix these issues within their company, other modeling companies will strive for the same goals.
In our world of constant media bombardment, women of all ages are being influenced by the images they see in the magazines. Whether it is purchasing a magazine at the airport while waiting for a flight or standing in line at the grocery store, women of all ages are exposed to the work of modeling companies across the country.  When older women see these skinny and even anorexic models they think, “I will never look like that.” “Does my husband want me to look like that?” The teenage girls think, “I want that to be me.” “I want to look like that.”  Women at all ages of the spectrum have a moment of worthlessness, a moment of not being good enough, not being skinny enough, and not being pretty enough. Sadly, I have been subject to this mentality as well.  I don’t believe that any woman is immune to this feeling.  I even sometimes feel the need to go on a diet simply because I don’t look like the girls in the magazines. "The promotion of the thin, sexy ideal in our culture has created a situation where the majority of girls and women don't like their bodies," says body-image researcher Sarah Murnen, professor of psychology at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. "And body dissatisfaction can lead girls to participate in very unhealthy behaviors to try to control weight” (Hellmich). Is this the standard that we want to set for our society?  Do we want women to feel as if they need to be anorexic in order to be skinny?  Women are striving for a figure that isn’t healthy or realistic. This being said, I believe that it is important that we as a country strive to promote a different ideal to the fashion and modeling industry.  I am very aware of the fact that “skinny sells”, but I believe that so does healthy.  I don’t think that we need to promote anorexic models for the magazines or the clothing within the magazines to sell.
The saddest part about all of this is that although many of the models are already anorexic, the modeling companies think that they need to use excessive amounts of photo shop to make these women look even smaller than they are currently. I find this to be outrageous. Companies are already using skeletal women in their magazines; I find no need for them to further photo shop any about these models.  This is creating a false sense of body image to everyone who sees these photos.  Models begin to compare themselves with other models. Teenage girls begin to compare themselves with other teenage girls as well as models.  The list can go on and on. Women are comparing themselves to an image that is unattainable.  They are becoming unhealthy and unhappy because of an unreachable and unrealistic image that has been set for them to strive for.  It is an issue that has gone on far too long without being addressed.  There needs to be a plan to fix this problem.  We need to band together to not only help protect our models, but to protect the general public as well. As Americans we need to strive to set up our citizens for a healthy and happy life.
I believe that the only way to fix having anorexic models is to set a law that all modeling agencies must follow. The law will state that there must be a dietician on hands at every agency. I believe that the dieticians will need to check up on the models frequently and to set a minimal weight that each individual model can be, depending on their height and body build. Before each shoot, the models would need to be weighed and measured to ensure that they haven’t gotten below their baseline requirements.  If they have fallen below their requirements, then they are out of a photo shoot.  I am aware that this may seem rather harsh, but I firmly believe that unless the consequences are extreme, the problem will not be fixed. I believe that a law is necessary for this to be enforced within all the modeling companies across the nation.  Without a law, certain modeling companies will think that they are the exception and will not ensure that all of their models are healthy and promoting a healthy lifestyle to millions across the country. This law will not only benefit the models but women nationwide.  By stopping the problem where it is originating (within the modeling agencies) it will only be a matter of time until the unhealthy model image is being rejected on college campuses, in high schools, junior high schools, and even elementary schools.  I am not saying that it will stop anorexia completely, or that women will never be self conscious about their body images ever again.  I am saying that this will help.  I am also saying that by having the government establish laws that promote healthy models, they will be encouraging the rest of society to be healthy as well. Show Americans that you care. Yes, skinny does sell, but so does healthy. 

have an amazing day and i will post again once i am done with finals!

lil kate ♥

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