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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Thin is in – with good reason

As reported by Reuters on Feb. 1, a new study done by Girl Scouts of America of over 1,000 teenage girls found that almost nine in 10 say they feel pressured to be skinny. The girls surveyed chose the fashion industry as the culprit for creating an “”unrealistic, unattainable image of beauty.””

While critics of the fashion industry are up in flabby arms over how magazines and media affect adolescent females, this study might is not as alarming as it may appear. Though no one likes the extremes to which some girls go to achieve the body of a runway model, the pressure these girls feel to stay — or become — thin is a good one. This is not an issue of beauty but of health.

According to The Obesity Society, 15 percent of children between 12 and 19 years of age were obese in 2000, the last year for which data was compiled, a number that has presumably risen in the past decade. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the average woman is just under 5-foot-4 and weighs 152 pounds. Though that weight is far from obese, a simple body mass index calculation places that height/weight ratio at the very top of the healthy weight range.

All ideas of beauty are created by society. The image of thinness as a desirable trait comes from the contemporary economic structure which requires most people to be inside at a desk, not doing physical labor, for the majority of their time. Those who have time to exercise and money to eat more expensive, healthier foods are those at the top of the economic pyramid. Though we all would like for the images our girls emulate to be realistic, the current definition of “”beautiful”” could be much worse.

Previous images of female beauty have included corsets and foot binding. Though fake tanning and aspiring to be grossly underweight present their own health problems, the American definition of beauty in 2010 is one that could help alleviate the huge health issue of diabetes and other complications from being dangerously overweight.

As Kimberlee Salmond, senior researcher at the Girl Scout Research Institute, noted in the Reuters article, “”Teenage girls take cues about how they should look from models they see in fashion magazines and on TV, and it is something that they struggle to reconcile with when they look at themselves in the mirror.”” The unpopular and difficult fact is that many of the girls who struggle to reconcile that image may need to lose weight to be at a size that is healthy.

Yes, these girls should know they are beautiful at any size. They should be eating well and exercising regularly because it makes them feel good, not because they want to look like a model. But no matter the reason these girls are trying to attain their ideal weight, telling them they are fine at their current, maybe heavier-than-healthy weight is no better than the “”pressure”” the fashion industry places on them to be thin.

— Anna Swenson is the opinions editor and a sophomore majoring in English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.aizona.edu.

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