Growing Up Skinny in America

Many people have heard the popular phrase, “Zero is not a size”. If this is true then why are so many young girls and women growing up believing that zero should be their size? Women everywhere are comparing themselves to stick-like models and celebrities. The image that these thin girls are presenting is setting the standard for so many other women. We idolize these tall, thin, beautiful humans for sometimes nothing more than their looks. More young girls recognize the names of models and celebrities more so than women who are actually making a difference in this world. By putting these pretty thin people on pedestal, society has begun to associate pretty with being thin. For so long women have always been held to a standard of beauty, you can trace it back to the ancient Greek paintings and statues. In recent years this standard for women has become unhealthy. When people think of models they typically think, long legs, long necks, very thin bony bodies, and striking features. In the sixties this idea of models may have been similar, but the amount of women who fit into this category was much smaller. For example, in the sixties it was models that had this figure, for example twiggy, who was known for her thinness. Now, tons of models, actresses, singers, many celebrities have this extremely thin body. Not only do more women obtain this small size, but the media idolizes it. We make television shows such as America’s Next Top Model, which emphasize this figure even more. We hear from the tabloids everyday about a new celebrity, Nicole Richie, Hilary Duff, who have eating disorders. When normal people who are not famous start to develop eating disorders, they compare themselves to all of these glamorous women they are seeing on the covers of magazines and begin to think that their body size is normal, when in fact, it is extremely unhealthy. It has even come to the point where some girls refuse to participate in sports because they are afraid they will ‘bulk up’. The association of sexy and skinny is being imprinted into young girl’s minds. They believe they are supposed to look like that when they are older. This idea is taking over. Models will continue to be skinny until our population changes the way we view women. The problem with this is, society will not change the way we expect women to be skinny, until the media begins to glamorize women that are a realistic weight. Ralph Lauren’s former model Filippa Hamilton was fired because they said she was too fat and could not longer fit into their clothing. The model was shocked when she found out about this news and then shocked again when she saw her photograph digitally edited making her waist smaller than her head. Is this the kind of body we want girls as young as nine years old believing they should have? Not only is it unhealthy, but it is unrealistic for someone to have this type of body. It is wrong to make girls spend their lives trying to obtain and maintain an impossible body image just to feel beautiful.

Filippa Hamilton's photoshopped image
Celebrity Nicole Richie
Runway Model

Pretty Girl Power

Although throughout the progressive years things have slightly changed, it is still very common for the majority of a society to agree that a male figure holds more power than a female figure. What makes things even more difficult for women to maintain power is the fact that women who are considerably attractive are able to hold more power over those who are considered less attractive women. So typically, it can be broken down like this, males hold power over females, and pretty females hold power over ugly females. The question is how did it come to this? It is so wrong to judge people based on their gender or their level of attractiveness. I wanted to look more closely at the woman to woman power scale. The media emphasizes the ‘pretty’ woman being held high. For instance, there is a movie called Just Wright featuring Queen Latifah, Common and Paula Patton. In this film Queen Latifah plays a character named Leslie who is a physical therapist. She gets the gig of a lifetime when she is offered to help NBA all-star Scott McKnight, Common, recover from a career ending injury. Leslie, who is looked at as the uglier character in the film, finds herself falling in love with her new patient. The issue is Scott falls for Leslie’s child hood, much prettier, friend Morgan, Paula Patton. The film shows how the prettier girl, Morgan has to put much less effort into getting the attention of Scott than Leslie does. While Leslie clearly has the more attractive personality, Scott is still attracted to Morgan. It isn’t until the end of the movie when Morgan breaks up with Scott that he begins to notice Leslie and actually give her a chance. In reality it is so common for the pretty girl to win the heart of a male even if her personality is a bit bland. Girls who are found less attractive have to work so much harder to show their likable, more desirable personality, when more attractive girls have to do no more than walk by someone to get noticed. This idea is seen in more than just relationships between males and females, but it is seen in the work force as well. Typically if a woman is better looking she is considered more desirable, even if her abilities fall short of the other woman who is less attractive. This issue occurs way too much. This is not to discount attractive woman of personality or brains, because this is often a quite too frequent association. Many people look at pretty girls as nothing more than a pretty girl. These associations are based on nothing. Every individual is their own. When a beautiful girl holds a high position, she should not be looked at as some bimbo who got the position because of her looks. People should not only stop making this association, but bimbos should in fact not be hired based on their looks. The pretty girl gets the upper hand all too often. Movies emphasize how much power pretty girls hold. For example, in the movie Mean Girls, the four main characters are idolized in their school by almost every student, even though they are all very mean catty girls. These four girls are all skinny and pretty. Movies like this make people, even young people believe that popularity and power is based on looks. This is the wrong message to send to society.

Scene from Just Wright
characters from Mean Girls

In the Eyes of Society

Society holds men and women to continuously changing expectations that are difficult, if not impossible, to meet. These expectations are difference for men and women, and many people would agree that women have been held to much higher standards, for much longer than men.
The media plays a major role on setting these expectations. Everywhere you look you see advertisements selling weight loss products. Whether it is asking you to purchase a gym membership, to trying to get you to buy a weight loss supplement that will probably never work these ads are everywhere you look, most of the time you cannot even go on the internet without seeing one of these advertisements. They are on the television as well, commercials about eating healthier, working out more, taking supplements, trying a cereal two week challenge. The one thing these advertisements have in common is that most of them are directed toward women. To women, these advertisements can bring self esteem down a significant amount. Even thin woman begin to feel that they could be skinnier from seeing these ads everywhere. They are impossible to avoid. This is society’s way to try to get woman to conform to look the way every other woman looks. Society has a hard time making individuality look beautiful. In many magazines they will have articles that talk about how women should feel beautiful with the way they look. They should not try to meet any other standard that is set for them, cherish their individual characteristics. Then these magazines post ads on the very next page that are selling weight loss supplements, or beauty products that claim they will make you beautiful. The pressure that women feel to conform is very heavy and makes it difficult for woman to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Men on the other hand are pressured by society in a very different way. It is much less common to see advertisements trying to make men look more beautiful. For men, movies and television shows set a whole different type of standard for men. For example, the movie Twilight created a near perfect male figure that almost every girl went gaga over. Edward, the main male character in this series had all the characteristics a female might look for in a male. He was charming, yet mysterious, rich, inhumanely strong and fast, his model like features and compassionate love for Bella made women everywhere hope they could have an Edward of their own. Actors in all the popular love movies set standards for men when it comes to relationships, ones that are pretty unrealistic. These expectations make women less able to love men for who they are. The difference between the expectations held for men and held for women are that the expectations men are typically held to are usually only looked at by women, where women are judged by both male and females. Regardless, both men and women are held to standards in society.
Everyone is trying to please others. The media makes it so difficult to be able to fit into that ever-changing mold that we are expected to conform to. The problem has become that everyone cares about the way they look in the harsh eyes of society, which are the hardest eyes to please.

one of the many weight loss ads
Edward from twilight

Pretty Princess Meets Runway Model
After reading Gena’s blog, I have found that her blog has a lot in common with mine. While my blog discusses the affect models have on girls in that age anywhere from 13 to 21, Gena’s blog discusses how the Disney princesses affect girls younger in a very similar way. The biggest similarity in our blogs is the weight issue. Both princess and models give girls the impression that in order to be beautiful they have to be skinny, not just skinny, but just about unrealistically thin. The Disney princesses all have the same figure, extremely thin waist, arms and legs with curvy hips and a curvy bust. As a matter of fact models demonstrate how this figure is actually unattainable. While models probably have the closest size waist to the princesses, they do not have the curvy waist and bust, they look more like a straight line someone might draw with a pencil, no curves at all. Girls who want to look like these princesses can try and try and try to have that thin waist, but if you have a waist that thin, there is a very small chance your body will have any curves at all. While girls are trying to attain this impossible figure of a Disney princess or a runway model, they will be making themselves unhealthy, just as Gena stated, they will start caring and counting how many calories they take in everyday starting at such a young age. If the Disney princesses and runway models started having a realistic body image, the weight problems we see so many young girls suffering from may start to decrease.
Society stresses the importance of beauty way too much. I agree with Gena that we as a society give the impression that without beauty, you are nothing. Girls grow up wanting and hoping to be a princess just like in their favorite fairy tales. Girls never learn what real success is. We hear less and less girls saying they want to be a doctor, teacher, lawyer, etc. To be a Disney princess you need beauty and that is it. These fictional characters have nothing more to offer, no intelligence or real success that young girls should look up to. Society pounds these ideas into girls head, to be pretty, to be skinny, to look a certain way, to wear certain clothes, to have your hair a certain color. Whatever happened to individuality? Television, movies, commercials, billboards, the internet, no matter where you look you see these ideas of what you should look like, what society expects of you. If you aren’t a certain way, you’re an outsider. And at such a young age, being an outsider is a nightmare.
Gena was right when she said that in Disney princess movies, the princesses are not portrayed as strong independent women, but isn’t this important for girls to learn? Everyone of these movies show how females are fragile and weak, how they need men to come be their saviors and take care of them, Sleeping Beauty is so fragile that she goes into a coma from a simple finger prick. Girls should be learning that they do not need men to survive and take care of them. Females are just as independent as men. Just as Gena pointed out in every movie a princess gets saved by her prince charming. This connects to my blog because while this sets a standard for what woman are expected to look and act like in order to attract a man, it also sets a standard for what women expect of men. After watching these movies almost every girl would agree at one point or another they had wished for their own prince charming to come sweep them off their feet, when in reality, the chances of this actually happening are slim to none. Every man is their own person, while one man might be similar to a prince charming, that does meant the next guy will too. These movies help set an unrealistic standard for what woman want in their companions. And what is similar about how all these princesses got their prince charming? Just as Gena said in her blog, their beautiful looks. The princes are attracted to not the princess’s personalities, but more so their attractive looks. Gena made such a good point when she talked about how Ariel actually lost her voice in The Little Mermaid, and still attracted her prince. How did she do this without a voice? You guessed it! Her good looks are what won the prince over. This proves my point that I made in my blog that attractive girls have to try much less harder to attract men, just as demonstrated in the movie Just Wright I discussed in an earlier blog. Even with a boring personality, or none at all in Ariel’s case, pretty girls can still win over men.
Gena said that society set a standard for women long before we were all born and she was right. Ever since society had this standard for women to meet, girls have tried so hard to fit into this mold. The problem is, it is the wrong mold, everyone should have their own mold they create and want to fit into. No one should tell another person what they are supposed to be like.