Counterpunch: Body image problems are far from fantasy
Yesterday on The Punch, Tory argued that Karl Lagerfeld’s rather out there recent comments were right - “sort of”.
The gist of Karl nobody-wants-to-see-a-round-woman Lagerfeld’s contribution was that the fashion world was all about fantasy so it shouldn’t be criticised if it chooses to use only skinny models with protruding bones on their catwalks, or photos that are digitally altered to make a models’ waist the size of her neck. It’s all fantasy, silly. What’s the harm?
Tory’s semi-agreement seemed rather more based on personal preference and a dislike of a recent magazine’s choice of “plus size” models.
“I don’t feel a strong need to see other women’s flab. I’m probably not the only one, which might explain why the picture was on page 194,” she wrote.
You know what - sure thing! Want to see other women’s flab, don’t want to see other women’s flab … whatever - each to their own.
Can I tell you what I really don’t want to see though?
I don’t want to see kids as young as six worrying about how many calories are in their playlunch.
I don’t want to see teenage girls literally starving themselves to try and look like pictures of already-thin models in magazines – pictures which have been digitally altered to make the model appear even thinner than she could ever actually be.
And I don’t want to see any more statistics which reveal that the issue of body image now rates as the top concern amongst young Australians.
Arguments like Lagerfeld’s that “only fat mummies sitting with their packets of crisps in front of the television” care about the pressures being placed on young people’s body image are about as sophisticated as those once put that only lesbians who couldn’t snare a man cared about women’s rights.
Only they’re more dangerous.
The number of young Australian women - and increasingly young men - who feel negatively about the way they look is reaching epidemic levels.
This generation is faced with pressures never experienced by those of us who went before; pressures from the digital manipulation of media images, the explosion of incoming messages and advertisements, the possibilities and pressures advanced by an ever expanding cosmetic surgery industry, and a growing sense of normality associated with serious eating disorders.
We’re seeing an increase in the rate of eating disorders, a dramatic decrease in the age of eating disorder sufferers and a huge jump in those listing body image pressure as something that is massively affecting their self esteem, confidence and well-being.
And of course, it is complicated and it’s not the fault of any one group or industry any more than it can be solved by one.
But we can probably at least take it seriously.
Body image is about more than a group of friends going out shopping and someone complaining about the size of her thighs.
It is affecting the health and happiness of substantial sections of our community.
Earlier this year the Federal Government established a National Advisory Group on Body Image that will soon report back.
We take this issue seriously. It might be easier to argue that this is because we’re all “fat mummies” - reality is it’s because we all want to ensure that we have a generation who are resilient, healthy and confident.
Maybe Karl should step out of fantasy land from time-to-time and join the rest of us in the real world - and as for us magazine readers, we can always just turn over page 194, if we want.
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