Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The idea of a perfect person now. By Aidan Codd

The idea of a perfect person now.
By Aidan Codd

Body shape and the use of computer editing.

Lead authored by UK-based academics Dr. Helga Dittmar and Dr. Emma Halliwell, and signed by 44 leading academics, doctors and clinical psychologists from the UK, the US, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Ireland, the report was submitted to the Committee for Advertising Practice on Nov. 9, 2009. It forms part of a campaign coordinated by the Liberal Democrat Party, headed by Member of Parliament Jo Swinson. It is a shocking indictment of the cynical manipulation of the hopes and desires of young men and women.
The report summarizes the “damage done by perfect body ideals in advertising, which typically use digital alteration to change images toward unachievable ideals of thinness for women, muscularity for men, and youthful perfection for everybody.”
The report says: “The results suggest that average-size, attractive models could be used effectively in advertising, which may help to relieve body image concerns amongst these [the sample group for the tests] women.” It adds that: “Recent research suggests that it is the thinness of the models, rather than their attractiveness, that leads to increased body-image concerns.”
on BBC Radio 4 in October 2009: “Size zero models are attractive, and advertisers have claimed that thin models sell better.” Responding to the announcement that the German fashion magazine was no longer going to use thin professional models but “normal” size women as models, he described the directors of the magazine as “fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly,” and added that the world of fashion was all to do “with dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women.”

Body size and a history of body weight.

Western society is intensely preoccupied with body size, exerting enormous pressure on individuals to conform to the thin ideal of body weight. This influence is imposed upon children, adolescents, and adults. Although the ideal for men has changed to encourage a more muscular, lean frame, the focus of the extreme messages and pressures has been on females.
The ideal shape tends to be whatever is most difficult to achieve during a given time period. If too many women were able to meet the ideal, then standards would have to change for the ideal to retain its extraordinary nature. Even worse is that the ideal shape is becoming harder and harder to achieve as time goes on.
The major change across time in western culture is the degree to which we are concerned. Previously a mild concern to look nice was fair enough, however mass culture and the media have served to project the body ideal and turn gentle concern into obsessions, and dangerous ones at that. The media has given us very rigid, uniform beauty ideals. TV, magazines, billboards mean we see beautiful people more often than we see members of our family, the ideal becomes more familiar to us than our friends and thus appears normal and attainable.
The history of ideal female body shape
1800s to present day
During the Victorian era, the ideal body type for women was plump, fleshy, and full-figured. They wore restrictive corsets, which made waists artificially tiny while accentuating the hips and buttocks. These corsets also caused a variety of health problems with breathing and digestion.
At the start of the 1900s, slenderness became more fashionable. There was an increasing interest of women in athletics and physicians began to see body weight as a 'science' of calorie counting, 'ideal weights', and weigh-ins. At this time the physically perfect woman was 5'4" tall and weighed 10 stone.
By the 1920s, the Victorian hourglass gave way to the thin flapper who bound her breasts to achieve a washboard profile. After World War I, active lifestyles added another dimension. Energy and vitality became central and body fat was perceived to contribute to inefficiency and was seen as a sign of self-indulgence. By the 1950s, a thin woman with a large bust line was considered most attractive. The voluptuous (size 16) Marilyn Monroe set a new standard for women who now needed to rebuild the curves they had previously tried to bind and restrain.
By the 1960s, slenderness became the most important indicator of physical attractiveness following the arrival of model Twiggy. She weighed in at a shapeless six and a half stones, and had the figure of a prepubescent boy.
Despite an American public with increasing body weights, Playboy magazine increased the promotion of slimness between 1959 and 1978. 'Miss America' contestants were also found to be thinner over time, and winners of the pageant after 1970 consistently weighed less than the other contestants. In 1975 top models and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average women. Today they weigh 23% less, a size achievable by less than 5% of today's female population.
Between 1970 and 1990, there was an overall increased emphasis on weight loss and body shape in the content of a popular women's magazine, as well as a shift to using thinner less curvaceous models in their photo shoots. The 1980s beauty ideal remained slim but required a more toned and fit look. Women could no longer just 'diet' into the correct size; there was a new pressure to add exercise to achieve the toned look.
The 1990s body ideal was very slim and large breasted, think Pamela 'Baywatch' Anderson, an almost impossible combination for most western women.
Looking forwards
Today in our modern Western society, 'thin is in' and artificial means such as liposuction are often used to lessen the appearance of hips, buttocks and fat in general. Many celebrities have made being ultra thin trendy; and we're not talking about women who are naturally skinny, but ones who's weight has plummeted as their fame rises.
But at the same time, the curvier figure appears to be fighting back and with Trinny and Susannah fighting the cause for loving your body whatever size, the trend may well reverse as we see big as beautiful once again.
The ,2009:

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