3 in 4 girls feel depressed, guilty and shameful after 3 minutes with a fashion magazine

25 Jun

Miss Representation’s stat card from a campaign against extreme Photoshopping.

Welcome to summer. It’s time for your “bikini body” to be unveiled, so you can be sure to catch the eye of a surfer hunk to have a summer fling with. It’s just a casual relationship (but why won’t he commit?), which we can have because we are Independent Women (who rely on bikinis and lipstick to be noticed) with Careers (but why can’t we get promoted?) and Lots of Friends (who might be frenemies).

Along with all of these convoluted dramas invented by women’s magazines, readers are made to feel insecure by the very images in the spreads. Women who are probably anorexic to begin with sit around in painful-looking poses and then are Photoshopped even smaller.

I’ve been known to fall prey to these magazines too. Let’s face it: Women’s magazines are fun. It seems like reading about hair and boys is a good way to pass the time on a plane or in the dentist waiting room.

In reality, women’s magazines just make readers anxious. In a world where women already are trying to do everything required of men and more, they don’t need a magazine telling them they aren’t doing enough and aren’t attractive enough.

The American Medical Association says seeing these unrealistic “photos” does damage to our ideas of what bodies look like. Many good examples are out there to show how models are changed to be more “photogenic,” but here’s one I really like:

This is a sample of what a photo goes through before you see it in a magazine. The designers changed 12 aspects about this girl, but didn’t change her arms, legs, neck, or hips – and those would all likely be altered in a real magazine. See the changes yourself: http://demo.fb.se/e/girlpower/retouch/retouch/index.html

With all of these images, it can be hard to remember that real women don’t look like the airbrushed models. The images inside your favorite women’s glossy have been retouched for 20+ hours each, and even those women don’t look like that.

One of my favorite online tools is My Body Gallery. On MBG, you can look up photos of women by body type, height and weight. With this tool, I discovered I thought women of my body shape and height were most attractive at 165 pounds. It’s a stunning realization.

Forget Dove ads – these are real women.

How have you combated media images of bodies to find your own happiness?

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