We are constantly bombarded by the idea that Thin = Beautiful. It’s everywhere. Magazines, TV, movies, billboards…everywhere we look we see this message. So we try to mimic it. Just go on a diet, exercise obsessively, and if those size 0 jeans still don’t fit, why not take that last step and start starving ourselves? Then we’ll be thin. Then we’ll finally be “beautiful.” But even then, what if the image in the mirror is not what we hoped for? What if we still see the person looking back at us as “fat”? Unfortunately, no amount of starving will change this mentality in someone with anorexia.
When people see pictures of those with anorexia, they are shocked and disgusted by the skeletal person staring back at them. They wonder how anyone could ever do that to themselves, but is that really the case? Are they really to blame for their own anorexia? Or is the twisted beauty ideal that the media feeds to us to blame? It teaches us that being beautiful and, therefore, thin is the most important thing, that that’s the only way people will ever accept us. And with the way people have bought into this image, believing it so wholeheartedly that they spend millions on beauty products, can you really blame someone for taking what probably started out only as a diet a little too far? I don’t think we should, not when anorexia is the result of trying to become thinner, something society tells us we should want to do. It’s not their fault; it’s the unobtainable goal the media sets for us.
But it’s not just the average media consumer who is at risk for developing anorexia; those who are already considered beautiful by the public are at risk as well. Fashion models are constantly pressured to lose weight even when they are already incredibly thin. A medical classification of “underweight” becomes the norm until we see emaciated women strutting down the catwalk in clothing that is practically falling off their bodies. This isn’t a healthy image to present in general, let alone to present in association with beauty. It perpetuates the notion that the only way to be beautiful is to be impossibly thin, feeding into the image the media presents.
Over the last decade, we’ve see the beauty ideal associated with thinner and thinner women. If we’ve reached the point where skeletal models as labeled as beautiful, what’s next? If the trend continues, “beauty” will only be obtainable in death.