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Copyright 2000
Cherie L. Marcus
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Last Updated November 30, 2000

A Slimming Trend

As millions of Americans watch hours of television during the day, they do not realize how strongly it affects their perceptions. While the primary uses of television are entertainment and information gathering, people also form and shape their attitudes according to what they view. The women on television have become increasingly thinner in recent years. Television used to portray the beautiful heroine of a program as a sexy and voluptuous woman, but now the women playing these roles are waif-like and are often described as "lollipop" figures. The average icon portrayed on television is 5'7", weighs 100 pounds and wears a size eight. This creates detrimental psychological effects on most female viewers because the average American woman is 5'4", weighs 140 pounds, and wears a size 14 dress. According to a recent survey, 80 percent of American women admit that they feel insecure about their bodies compared to what they see in the media.1

The appearance issue is not targeted to one age group of women; it affects women ranging from adolescence to mature women. One 47-year-old woman states that even though she is of a reasonable weight, she feels fat when she sees beautiful, thin women in the media. Young female viewers are at great risk for being affected by women on television shows because the psychological message presented is that to be found attractive, one must be thin. Between the ages of 10 and 16, girls are found to be more vulnerable to the messages because they spend most of their free time watching television.1

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