A Slimming Trend-Overview

Timeline

Women React

Pictures of women in television and related links

Eating Disorders

The Future of Women in Television

Sources

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


Women React

Media's portrayal of a successful, beautiful, accepted woman has created a negative impact on the average female viewer. Average and overweight women are under represented in movies, commercials, and especially television sitcoms.1 Women are almost three times more likely to have their appearance commented upon than men in television shows. In all media, 46 percent of women frequently seen are thin, but only 16 percent of men have slender figures.2

The amount of time an adolescents watch soaps, movies, and music videos is associated with their degree of body dissatisfaction and their desire to be thin.4 This has a cumulative effect on girls, as 60 percent of elementary school girls say they are happy with their appearance. By the time girls reach high school, less than half of them feel the same way.2 Messages in the media have given many young females warped priorities. Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents.5

Many comedic series on television use humor at the expense of the overweight characters. Producers and writers continue to use this pattern of writing as it has been shown to be successful in the past. As society changes and people realize that obtaining the slim figure maintained by many actresses is impossible or unhealthy, viewers are becoming less acceptant of this type of humor. 3 In general, society makes it difficult for overweight people to cope with their figure, and the pressure of maintaining a certain weight is amplified when the messages are reinforced by the media.3

Many viewers react to the images they see of thin women on television by striving to achieve the same figures. Women become so insecure by the images they see that 93 percent of women viewers have tried to lose weight, and 34 percent said they would be willing to try a diet even if it posed health risks.7

Women React: Facts and Figures

  • Girls develop eating and self-image problems before drug or alcohol problems.
  • Seventy-five percent of American women are unhappy with their appearance.
  • Women who frequently read fitness magazines for reasons other than interest in fitness and dieting display greater signs of eating disorders than women who do not read them at all.
  • In a recent survey by People magazine, 80% of women stated that fashion magazines and advertising make them feel insecure about their looks.
  • Self-criticism yields the greatest influence in women's insecurities about their bodies.


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