Is Fashion Industry To Blame For Negative Body Image?
by Tamara Dumas | B Sc Hons | Certified NLP Master Practitioner & Life Coach
Yesterday must have been the international Body Weight day. I can’t think of any other explanation to my social media being flooded with articles and posts about weight and beauty: activists on behalf of all obese people claiming their right to be called beautiful; skinny claiming they are “fit”, not “skinny”. It was a hilarious read!
One article particularly struck me: Editor-In-Chief of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, was almost executed verbally by Yahoo Style for expressing her opinion that “no one should be refused work as a model based on results of a humiliating procedure or measuring in order to calculate BMI” (which, by the way, was admitted to be bogus a while back). I suppose Alexandra is lucky to have a few extra inches on her waistline, which very handily work as firewall from insecure haters and bullies with *bogus* BMI over 27.
The same article brings back the story of Victoria Beckham being slammed for using “super skinny” models in her September show and bullied for failing to “promote positive body image” throughout her catwalk shows.
It is evident that media puts a lot of responsibility on designers. Various publications, in turn, found themselves amid fierce attacks from the public for publicizing heavily edited images. In the midst of this palaver are, of course, designers who face a dilemma – they have to sell overpriced products to the public, fast, and not to upset anyone. Their experience tells that the best way to sell anything is to use pretty, slim models, who have been the top driving force of sales for decades (apart from magic words “FREE” or “80% off”, of course).
And this is not purely a designers' illusion; according to 1997 poll published by David Garner, out of 4000 entries, 82% of women and 53% of men said they would like to see fuller models in magazines, even though most still believe that clothes look better on thin models.
Another outcome of certain polls, often left unaddressed, is that, despite all surrounding negativity, people are still drawn to magazines or TV adverts that explicitly deal with promoting a thinness ideal. The process seems somewhat like self-induced torture and refers to unexplored mechanisms in one’s psyche.
So is the fashion industry the cradle of all evil? Or is it merely responding to the demand, thus creating an endless vicious circle?
Do we understand where the problem comes from?
“Problem can't be solved on the level it was created” said Einstein, and I completely agree. In order to solve complex issues we must understand what the cause is and work on the complex solution that will tackle problem from every angle. So what could be the greater issue underneath the tip of the iceberg called “Body Dissatisfaction” and everything that follows from there?
According to www.Psychologytoday.com, “Body image is the mental representation one creates, but it may or may not bear close relation to how others actually see you. Body image is subject to all kinds of distortions from internal elements like our emotions, moods, early experiences, attitudes of our parents, and much more. Nevertheless, it strongly influences behaviour. Preoccupation with and distortions of body image are widespread among [western] women -and, to a lesser extent, among males- but they are driving forces in eating disorders, feeding severe anxiety than can be assuaged only by dieting.”
Sophia B. Greene, author of best-selling book “Body Image: Perceptions, Interpretations and Attitudes” defines ‘Body Image’ as “a multi-dimensional concept that includes perceptual, attitudinal, affective, and behavioural dimensions. The definition of body image is the mental picture we have in our minds of the size, shape and form of our bodies and our feelings concerning these characteristics and one's body parts.”
In other words, term “body image” implies very personal relationship with our own body and perception of thereof, which is not necessarily based on how other people see us.
Bearing that definition in mind, would it be right to assume that by simply recruiting fuller models we will solve emotional issues for every insecure person? I doubt it.
Symptom, not the cause of the problem.