On female body image

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New cheat diets are ‘ridiculous and infuriating’ but widely accessible to impressionable teens

WHEN thinking of an angle to address the issue of female body image from, I found myself thinking of the same generic topics we read about in any magazine with a primarily female based audience – “you can be beautiful at any size”, “it’s dangerous to try and attain the unrealistic bodies of size zero models”, “everyone’s different”.

From my perspective, that’s just a boring read and I certainly wouldn’t want to waste my time copying the premise of other articles. Plus, I don’t necessarily agree with any of those arguments, I know everyone is different and every person’s healthy size is too, but not so incredibly so that we can’t have an image of healthy and what should be a good goal to aim for.

People often blame the advertising and modelling industry for the unhealthy attitudes of women where body image is concerned, but I don’t see their point of view as valid. I actually completely see why such slim and beautiful women are used to sell high end fashion, it’s aspirational. No one aspires to look like Dawn French, do they? As a general rule I think that most women’s weekly magazines are quite poisonous, but that’s another story. Lower end, commercial magazines and newspaper pull-outs promote unhealthy lifestyles with their advice on how to shift weight or achieve the “body you always wanted”.

Anyone who knows anything about health is aware that to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight you need to control your intake and keep active. But instead of pushing this sound advice, I read week in week out about a new cheat diet, this week it was the 5:2 diet; Eat normally for five days, eat only 500 calories on two days of the week. Ridiculous. No person in their right mind would sustain that diet for more than a few months at most, it’s not a conscious effort to alter your lifestyle for the better and it infuriates me that any magazine would promote that, never mind a magazine that I know is accessible to impressionable teens as I have been reading it myself for at least five years.

For as long as women exist, it will so happen that some women are more naturally slender or that they have more desirable measurements and as a consequence of this, other women will be threatened by that and express their insecurity by developing issues with their body image. It shouldn’t be such a permanent behaviour of ours, but it is.

Benjamin Franklin was wrong, there are not two certainties in life but three. The third being an obsession with comparing ourselves to others, because of this body image will always be an issue. Not an important one but an existing one nonetheless.