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How The Fashion World Affects Teenage Girls

Info: 1645 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 9th May 2017 in Media

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Teenage girls represent a meticulous demographic and they are often self-conscious as they develop and mature into young adults. Their preferences in fashion are also changing (Ang 2010) and their choices clearly influence how the fashion world and the media portray fashionable women. This paper intends to prove that the way Fashion World portray women can promote eating disorders, which is a serious mental health issue.

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These days, news stands have been displaying fashion magazines with images of women who are often thin. Similarly, the television is also portraying more and more thin women. Bones are becoming more apparent and implants are now replacing the real breast. Since most supermodels and actors featured in fashion magazine are skinny, they risk kidney failure, osteoporosis and even infertility (Rowland 2001). However, teenage girls do not realize the risks associated with being skinny. For most teenage girls, the perfect person they want to be is a supermodel or a fashionable actor and the focus mostly is on external appearance. This is the reason why most teenagers today are unsatisfied with their appearance, which affects their diet and self-confidence (Rowland 2001).

Based on the survey made by Reuters, almost 9 out of 10 teenage girls stated that they feel pressured to be skinny by the fashion world. Today, most fashion models weigh approximately 23 percent less than the normal woman. Indeed, most models do not represent average women. A research discovered that majority of models are between the ages of 14 and 19 and their average height is approximately 5’10” to 5’11” and their average weight is around 120 to 124 pounds. The healthy weight for women around this height must be between 142-150 pounds. It shows a significant difference and to mention that 124 pounds for 5’10” women are considered as unhealthy (The Effects of Fashion Industry on Eating Disorders 2010).

A huge contributing factor to this concern is that most influential people of the fashion industry promote the use of overly thin models in fashion shows and editorials. For instance, Chanel designer Karl Lagerfield stated that those people who said that skinny models are ugly are only jealous and fat. Lagerfield has been quoted stated that “These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly”. This opinion is not only repulsive but it can influence the fashion world that most people encourage this idea. Apart from Lagerfield, world-renowned fashion writer Kelly Cutrone defends employing skinny models by stating that “Clothes look better on thin people since the fabric hang better” (The Effects of Fashion Industry on Eating Disorders 2010).

Fashion world’s obsession towards skinny women clearly pressured teenage girls to become skinny. Continuous exposure to images of thin fashion models often reduces self-esteem among teenage girls (Smith 2008). In order to improve their self-esteem, adolescents tried to seek ways in order to acquire a super slim figure. This resulted in increased cases of eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa (The Effects of Fashion Industry on Eating Disorders 2010).

Based on the studies of Washington-based American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, figures of eating disorder cases has doubled since 1960s in the United States with an approximately ten million girls and women who are affected by bulimia nervosa, anorexia and other eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa pertains to excessive weight loss and self-starvation. A teenage girl is considered having anorexia if she loses 15 percent of weight or when growing adolescents failed to reach at least eighty-five percent of minimal weight depending on age and height. Other symptoms of anorexia includes loss of menstrual period, excessive focus on shape and body weight, feeling overweight regardless of dramatic weight loss, having an intense fear of gaining fat or weight, sore throat, and refusing to sustain an acceptable body weight (Eating Disorders 2008).

A teenage girl having anorexia are often perfectionist and high achiever in school. Girls who suffer from anorexia also suffer from low self-esteem and irrational belief that they are fat even though they are actually thin. They also experience a sense of control and often say no to the normal food demand of their bodies. Because of their willingness to become very slim, as demanded by the fashion world, the teenage girls will starve themselves. Eventually they could even suffer from serious illnesses and this could even result in death (Eating Disorders 2008).

Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder, which is often characterized by purging. This involves eating huge amounts of food in a short period and then getting rid of what they have eaten through vomiting, over-exercising and laxative abuse. It would be difficult to recognize bulimia since most people with this kind of disorder stay at normal body weight. Bulimia signifies a serious risk to the patient’s physical health such as dehydration, hormonal imbalance and damage to vital organs (Eating Disorders 2008).

Based on the Philadelphia-based Renfrew Center Foundation, forty-seven percent of American girls from fifth through 12th grade claim that they want to become slim due to magazine pictures and 60 percent stated that magazines affect their ideas of desirable body type. The worst reality is that most teenage girls do not realize the every image of model in fashion magazines has been altered using the latest technology in order to remove bulges and any undesirables. Images in fashion magazines are often unrealistic, manipulated and airbrushed, yet they still place considerable pressure on teenage girls (Terzieff 2006).

The fashion world’s emphasis on underweight models is clearly unacceptable and concerned people and individuals should find a solution in order to solve this dilemma. One good example are the actions made by the Council of Fashion Designers of America that created a CFDA initiatives that imposes specific recommendations to designers and magazines in order to solve this concern (Eating Disorders 2008). CFDA’s solutions consists of the following: requiring models who have eating disorders to seek professional care and they will not be allowed to work without professional approval, providing healthy meals during photo shoot and runway shows and sharing information for models and the rest of the industry regarding eating disorders (Eating Disorders 2008).

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On the other hand, harsher means should be imposed. Sample size among women should increase. On the other hand, a committee that approves magazines and fashions shows before presenting their work should be created. These committees should create specific weigh standards and ensure that each girl in a fashion magazine or those who will walk on a runway. Even though this might require considerable time and money, this is completely necessary (The Effects of Fashion Industry on Eating Disorders 2010).

One good example of a similar initiative is the solution by Spain’s fashion industry, which made international headlines not only for the clothes on display but also for the model’s size. The Madrid Regional government implemented a ban on skinny models for Madrid Fashion Week catwalks. The decision made also produce shock waves across international fashion industry (Terzieff 2006).

Advocates even encourage the industry to expand the ban and create new standards on the weight and sizes of models. The government of Spain’s main intention is to encourage healthier body image. More than thirty percent of models who appeared in Madrid catwalks last year were disqualified because of the new guidelines. This would also prevent the participation of top models including Spain’s Esther Canadas, Brazil’s Fabiana, Estonian model Carmen Kass and Britain’s Kate Moss (Terzieff 2006).

Conclusion

Teenage girls represents a meticulous demographic and they are often self-conscious as they develop and mature into young adults. Their preferences in fashion are also changing (Ang 2010) and their choices are clearly influence how the fashion world and the media portray fashionable women. These days, newsstands have been displaying fashion magazines with images of women who are often thin. Similarly, the television is also portraying more and more thin women. Bones are becoming more apparent and implants are now replacing the real breast. Since most supermodels and actors featured in fashion magazine are skinny, they risk kidney failure, osteoporosis and even infertility (Rowland 2001).

Fashion world’s obsession towards skinny women clearly pressured teenage girls to become skinny. Continuous exposure to images of thin fashion models often reduces self-esteem among teenage girls (Smith 2008). The worst reality is that most teenage girls do not realize the every image of model in fashion magazines has been altered using the latest technology in order to remove bulges and any undesirables. Images in fashion magazines are often unrealistic, manipulated and airbrushed, yet, they still place considerable pressure on teenage girls (Terzieff 2006). In order to improve their self-esteem, adolescents tried to seek ways in order to acquire a super slim figure. This resulted in increased cases of eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa (The Effects of Fashion Industry on Eating Disorders 2010). The fashion world’s emphasis on underweight models is clearly unacceptable and concerned people and individuals should find a solution in order to solve this dilemma.

 

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