According to the Healthy Place website, by the time a girl is 17 years old, she has been subjected to 250,000 advertisements, many of which depict fashion models with unrealistically thin bodies. This exposure has many negative effects on the developing minds of girls and can lead to unhealthy habits, poor self esteem and experimentation with tobacco products.
Ideal Body Perceptions
Fashion models and the media have a negative influence on young girls by placing strong emphasis on sexuality, physical attractiveness and ultra-thin body ideals. This leads young girls to feel pressured by the media to achieve the perfect body. According to the Healthy Place website, 69 per cent of girls report that fashion and magazine models influence their perceptions and ideas of the ideal body shape and size. This acceptance of ultra-thin fashion models as the socially-accepted ideal leads to unrealistic standards for girls and women in society.
According to the Healthy Place website, the average fashion models weighs 23 per cent less than the average healthy female. In addition to this, females between the ages of 18 and 34 have a one per cent chance of being as slim as a supermodel. Using these fashion models drives market sales of products that claim to help girls and women gain the ideal body shape and size. This makes young girls and women the target market for advertising companies that aim to sell beauty products and dietary supplements, but the products do not always work as advertised. This means that the media drives a market that does not always work for the customer, but the customers will repeatedly return in an effort to attain the ideal body.
Body Perceptions and Weight Control
Exposure to the unrealistic body sizes of fashion models damages a young girl's perception of her own body size and lowers her satisfaction with her own body. In a sample survey taken from female undergraduates at Stanford University, 75 per cent of females at a normal weight reported feeling overweight, and 90 per cent of females overestimated the size of their own bodies. This thin ideal leads many girls to diet unnecessarily or take part in dangerous weight control methods such as anorexia, bulimia and smoking cigarettes.
Effect on Young Men
Fashion models and advertising does not only affect females. Boys who are subjected to media standards are pressured to be thin and muscular, causing many young boys to feel insecure in their own body shape and size. This can lead to excessive weight training and abuse of steroids and other supplements that lead males to believe that the use of these drugs will enhance their physical appearance. These unnecessary pressures can also lead boys to develop unhealthy eating patterns and form smoking habits.