A Slimming Trend-Overview


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Eating Disorders

The Future of Women in Television


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

The Future

Although the trend in womens figures on television has become increasingly thin in the past few decades, the future is likely to show some changes. Women can only lose so much weight until they become mere skeletal figures. Although many female viewers try to attain the same thin figure of women on television, others do not appreciate the extraordinary thin figures maintained by many models and actresses.3 Over 50 percent of women view actresses Courteney Cox Arquette and Gwyneth Paltrow as excessively thin. More women would rather look like plus-size actress Camryn Manheim than ultra thin Calista Flockhart.7

There is a small trend in television toward average and plus-sized actresses. Organizations have been created to end weight discrimination on television. These councils have visions to create an ideal world on television in which actors would be chosen regardless of their weight, and overweight actors would not be cast as unattractive, obnoxious characters. There is hope for the future of television to give larger size women more romantic roles and to remove the stereotype that fat characters are obsessed with food.3

Several magazines are creating self-imposed regulations to banish anorexic or extremely thin models from their pages. Liz Jones, editor for women's magazine Marie Claire agreed with other editors to consider ways to rid the use of certain photographs. Jones suggests returning pictures of models whose bones show through their skin to their respective agencies. She adds that her magazine would write to competing magazines urging them not to use the photograph. Jones is among many magazine editors who want to start showing examples of healthy, fuller figured women.10

Full-figured model Anna Nicole Smith has recently started posing for plus-size retailer Lane Bryant. She says she feels great about her body and she wants to push the way for women with similar curvaceous bodies.11 Actress Camryn Manheim hopes to use her likeness to prove that full-figured woman can live fortuitous, successful lives. She describes herself as the "poster child for fat acceptance" and wants women to view her as a role model.14 Patrika Darbo, actress on NBC's soap opera Days of Our Lives, finds herself in a similar situation. Although the actress weighs 200 pounds, her character does not parallel the stereotype of most overweight women on television. Darbo plays the wife of an attractive medical doctor. Her performance earned her the title as one of "TV's Sexiest Stars" by TV Guide. She delights in her fan mail which reminds her that she is an inspiration to many women viewers.16

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