Australia’s body image crisis

Where does the blame fall for women and girls feeling so bad about themselves?

‘Mission Australia’ says that “body image has been one of the top three concerns for young people in the last 5 years”. Shouldn’t alarm bells be ringing? Does mass media have that much power that the imagery they present of women is out of our control?

Almost every movie you watch, every television show, every advertisement, every music video, every magazine has unrealistic representations of perfect young women and what beauty is, and therefore what we should all strive for if we are to feel beautiful, desired or even loved. As well as this, if women in these forms of media are not being stripped naked, they are being overtly sexualised, scantily clad or treated to depictions of violence and male domination. This is causing a body image crisis including depression and anxiety among children, teenagers and women alike.

Plastic surgery rates are surging for those who can afford it, Anorexia and bulimia rates are out of control fuelled by self-hate, and depression and anxiety rates among women are at an unprecedented high, and while most men might benefit from this and some women defend it, the majority of the ‘female sex’ of our nation are suffering. Is this right? Is this fair? Who says?

‘They’ say change the channel, turn of the movie, don’t read the magazines if you don’t like it censor yourself and your children. But it is hard to do when these images are everywhere in and outside of the home. And who doesn’t like to sit down and watch a good movie or a funny sitcom or a thrilling drama? But the fear of not knowing what will pop up next ruins this experience for a lot of women. I watched parts of a UK show ‘Silent witness’ the other night, the female cadaver was laid out naked in all her glory, full frontal and behind, on the table while being examined. The male cadaver was only shown from the chest up, with full protection of his sexual parts. Is this right? Is this fair? Who says?

When faced constantly with these images women learn of inequality in little ways all day long (‘To live in a culture in which women are routinely naked where men aren’t is to learn inequality in little ways all day long.’ – Naomi Wolf)

Advertising Executive Jane Caro says “we are taught to value the way women look above everything else, and all these images and ads out-way the small messages we are receiving of good body image”.

The experts say it is up to parents to reinforce to their children that these images are not real taking the onus and responsibility off the government, film, television, music, advertising and magazine industries for the constant unreal imagery and sexualisation of women and teenagers that they are producing and reproducing with dire consequences. They say that models are deliberately made up to look ‘un-real’.

Other experts state that this is double messaging; by saying it shouldn’t matter, while all the imagery is saying how beautiful you are is very important and definitely matters.

Now we have the new ‘photoshop ratings system’ controversy, while certain people in the industry are calling for transparency others say these idealised versions of women shouldn’t be labelled as ‘photoshop’d’

Felicity Harley from women’s health magazine said on the morning show last week that people need to realise that “I don’t look like this”, with professional makeup artists and hairstylists making her look this good for television. That people also need to realise that these models and actresses have had full hair and makeup done, fake tan’s etc before they are then photoshop’d to even more perfection including airbrushing out skin flaws and wrinkles, whitening teeth, reducing or enhancing body parts etc in the images we see daily.

No it is probably not a good idea to show how much manipulation a woman has needed to look good in a photo, but these unrealistic images are not good either when we are confronted with it many, many times throughout each day of our lives. It is a lose/lose situation for women and girls of all ages.

It is time for social responsibility by media and government bodies. Is this right? Is this fair? Who says?

We do!

http://au.tv.yahoo.com/the-morning-show/video/-/watch/27439570  photo shop rating system

http://au.tv.yahoo.com/the-morning-show/video/-/watch/27451108   day spa’s for children

http://au.tv.yahoo.com/the-morning-show/video/-/watch/25530072/baby-beauty-salon/   baby beauty salons

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