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People often compare themselves to images of models, actors and singers in the media, but are these images even real?
With clever lighting, make-up and Photoshop, it’s possible to transform an image so it no longer reflects the shape, size or features of the original model.
No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted!

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Here are some statistics that will probably shock you, from Joel Miller’s excellent article on media and body image:

  • Most models weigh an average of 23 percent less than a typical woman. Twenty years ago, this difference was a mere 8 percent.
  • Problems with eating disorders have increased over 400 percent since the year 1970.
  • Only 5 percent of women in the US actually fit the current body type popularly portrayed in advertising today.
  • 69 percent of girls concurred that models found in magazines had a major influence on their concept of what a perfect body shape should look like.

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Now, with the popularity of social media, and teenagers everywhere having the ability to berate and body shame other teens, it’s more dangerous than ever before.
Cyberbullying is a huge problem, and can lead to depression and even suicide. While this cannot all be blamed on advertising, the role it plays in creating images of physical perfection cannot be ignored.
Although the media can have a very negative effect on an individual’s body image, I believe the media’s standards of beauty and the thin ideal are improving, slowly but surely. There are many campaigns against airbrushing now that didn’t exist a few years ago.
The movement to stop airbrushing and nit-picking the model’s body parts have been led by companies like Dove, who has  decided to endorse the “Photoshop action.”
The “Photoshop action” is a downloadable file that applies a revert-Photoshop on a picture that has been changed with a single click. It is aimed at art directors who may be creating ads that do alter the models.

I believe the time of dangerously thin models dominating the runways is coming to an end. There are now plus-size only fashion shows, which I think is a wonderful step in overcoming the thin ideal. These are all steps in the right direction to help overcome the negative effects of the media on body image.