I've never been a big fan of fashion magazines for a number of reasons. First, I've never considered myself to be a "fashionista". If you saw me on the street, my standard outfit is usually sweatpants and a t-shirt. Second, I always end up irritated at the pictures of skinny models in the advertisements and articles. These images are unrealistic to 99.9% of the people looking at them, yet so many (especially young girls) strive to look this way and beat themselves up when they fall short. Some of these models truly look like the pictures portray, but most have the benefit of photo-editing software (commonly referred to as "Photoshopping") to smooth out every line and give a look of perfection. Now the American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a policy discouraging this practice.
The policy encourages advertisers to work with child and adolescent health organizations to develop guidelines for advertisements, especially in publications targeted to youth and teens. The goal is to discourage the practice of editing photos, especially when they create unrealistic expectations of body image. A good example of this issue was a Ralph Lauren ad in 2009. As you can see in the picture, her waist appears to be smaller than her head. Although this model is normally thin, she doesn't look so disproportionate like the ad portrays. This look is thanks to photo-editing software, which probably did a number of "touch-ups" including trimming her waist.
Here's a quote from the AMA on this issue "The appearance of advertisements with extremely altered models can create unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image," said Dr. McAneny. "We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software."
It's hard to say how much of an impact this new policy will actually have on advertising and photo-editing practices. But I think we would all benefit from seeing people more like they actually look- since we all know that no one looks perfect. I am pretty accepting of my body and its flaws. But looking at these kinds of ads often leaves me thinking "Geez, how can I get my skin to look so perfect? Why don't my thighs look so smooth and cellulite-free?" So I know if it leaves me questioning my appearance, it certainly has an effect on young women who are just beginning to learn about self-esteem and body acceptance.
What do you think?
More From SparkPeople