REAL ROLE MODELS FOR REAL WOMEN; Are Young Girls Developing Eating Disorders Because of Painfully Thin Models? Phil Gould Ponders the Image Problem

By Gould, Phil | The Birmingham Post (England), June 1, 2000 | Go to article overview

REAL ROLE MODELS FOR REAL WOMEN; Are Young Girls Developing Eating Disorders Because of Painfully Thin Models? Phil Gould Ponders the Image Problem


Gould, Phil, The Birmingham Post (England)


Waif-like models have come under fire yet again with catwalk stars such as Jodie Kidd and ultra-thin actresses like Ally McBeal actress Calista Flockhart considered bad role models for today's generation of teenage girls.

A new report by the British Medical Association, published this week, has described catwalk models and women on TV as 'abnormally thin', claiming their body shapes promote eating disorders among young women.

But do today's teenagers and young women really look towards the catwalk for inspiration, or do they see the relatively curvy Britney Spears, actresses Martine McCutcheon and Tamzin Outhwaite and pop group All Saints as role models instead?

Launching the BMA report, titled Eating Disorders, Body Image And The Media, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, says: 'We are particularly concerned about the use of very thin models to advertise products and model clothes for the fashion industry.

'Research has also found that most female characters in TV are thinner than average women.

'The images of slim models are a marked contrast to the body size and shape of most children and young women, who are becoming increasingly heavier.'

The debate about the media's attitude towards the female form is not a new one but has been gathering momentum with the Government becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of such super-skinny images on young, impressionable minds.

Next month fashion editors, designers and models are meeting at Downing Street for a body image seminar.

This follows complaints made to the Government by young girls during a series of consultation sessions about the pressures they face in the year 2000.

The girls felt the media had lost sight of what most teenagers looked like and as a result many of them felt constantly besieged by idealised images they could not live up to.

But many magazine editors believe that teenage girls and young women look for other qualities in their role models than their waist measurements.

Sam Baker, editor of Company magazine says: 'I think it is far too simplistic to equate looking at waif-like fashion models with developing an eating disorder.

'Models have always been thin, it is not a recent development. I think it's very patronising to blame them for an increase in disorders like bulimia and anorexia. …

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