not exactly

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


new study shows viewing ultra-thin models actually increases self esteem

According to either Allure or Seventeen magazine (I flipped through them both idly while waiting for a haircut), a new study shows that viewing images of an unattainable body doesn't actually lower all women's self-esteem. There's a catch, of course: the women who weren't dieting felt that the model's figure was unattainable (probably because it is for most people) and therefore felt "depressed" that they would never look like that. However, the women who were on diets felt that with enough motivation, they could look like the women in the pictures, which led to higher self-esteem because they "knew" they, too, could attain that level of (supposed) attractiveness.

Is it just me or is that one of the most insane things you've heard lately?

Of course the magazine I read didn't have a good source for this study, which might explain why the "study" refutes hundreds of past studies that show a) the body of the average model is not attainable for the average woman and b) being bombarded with these images does make women have lower self-esteem. It's not that hard to figure out why, if you don't already know. Let's look at a model. Take Giselle, for example. Giselle is a beautiful woman. Giselle is toned and flat and got a boob job to look more womanly. Giselle has long, flowing, perfectly highlighted hair. She has a sporty yet feminine look, kind of a "I can kick your ass on PS2 and make you come in your pants while I do it" attitude.

Giselle's look is also representative of less than 2% of the women in the world. That's not in America (supposedly the fattest country in the world). That's not in Giselle's native Brazil. That's the entire world. 98 out of 100 healthy women simply do not look like that.

Now, imagine a woman looking at Giselle, knowing that she is what is considered beautiful in America. Giselle is not just one version of beauty (which would imply that there are others); she is beauty. If you do not look like her or one of her equally-anorexic, unattainable coworkers in the modeling industry, you are not good enough. You are not beautiful.

Is your self-esteem up a couple points yet? Because mine isn't.

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