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How the media is promoting unhealthy body image expectations

My work as a marriage and family therapist in Scottsdale, Arizona helps to  instill hope and change through the use of techniques including: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Parenting Skills Training, and Brief Solution focused therapy. I u...

Why the media reporting 'thigh gaps' on celebrities is harming women

Recently, E! News aired a piece called “How to Get That Sexy Thigh Gap Easily,” explaining how to get legs like the stars. “If you gained some holiday weight, help is falling right into your lap,” Jason Kennedy said. Catt Sadler quipped back, “Yeah, it is. Actually, right between your thighs.” Then the segment cut to a voice-over: “If T. Swift’s thigh gap is inspiring some of your New Year’s resolutions, we’re revealing a shortcut to make it happen."

 

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In "A Cosmetic Procedure for Taylor Swift’s Thigh Gap Is Being Promoted on E! News," Lauren Tuck quotes Claire Mysko, the interim CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, stating that it is irresponsible of the media to report on a "thigh gap," which implies something is wrong with your body if your thighs touch. The damage is done when this type of story is reported in the media and seen by the public. It normalizes an unhealthy body image and makes a ridiculous statement promoting an unrealistic image for women.

The problem with media promotion of the thigh gap is that it delivers a nonsensical idea that having a perfect body is what all women should strive for. Even if E! News meant for the story to be a light-hearted bit about trends in beauty treatments, it is not appropriate to inform the public of this without addressing the issue of body image.

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E! News might not feel that they're a role model for their viewers; it is entertainment news and gossip about celebrities. Our society should demand more of its media and the beauty standards promoted to our public. These messages of obsessive beauty ideals like thin body weight can affect those struggling with or developing eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia or body dysmorphic disorder, per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

We know that images affect us, as I wrote about earlier. The beauty standards that the media puts out into the public are difficult for even celebrities and models to obtain, as we clearly know that Photoshop and plastic surgery can be used. I wrote about a similar issue when Seventeen promoted plastic surgery, with Iggy Azalea on the cover sharing her use of plastic surgery as a way to accept your flaws — the same ideas the E! News story uses to idealize beauty and thin bodies. The magazine really shocked me since its readers are teenagers.

As a society, we need to ask for less focus on looks and beauty. It's not what you look like that counts. We need to promote this standard, not the others that we are flooded with.

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