Last week, New York Fashion Week pushed dangerous dieting back into the spotlight as models, industry folks, and everyday women found themselves triggered into disordered eating behavior by the fashion industry’s obsession with thinness. Because, in spite of vague promises to be “ambassadors for healthy body image,” magazines, designers, and advertisers are still deeply invested in impossibly tiny female bodies. And, as a result, in eating disorders. But perhaps this infographic can explain how truly, truly pervasive this obsession is.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching and writing about eating disorders–and even I was moved, startled, and scared by the information presented in this visual representation of statistics I already knew. Entitled “Dying To Be Thin,” this infographic from Rader Programs, a great resource for the treatment of eating disorders, puts the ubiquitous nature of potentially triggering messages into perspective.
Eating disorders aren’t necessarily caused by any one industry or factor–most women who suffer from them will tell you that they’re complex–but the consistent barrage of advertising and imagery that clearly praises and even fetishizes thinness is truly startling. For many of us, it’s become like white noise.
Diet pills, weight loss programs, fashion magazines, airbrushed billboards, celebrity gossip, pro-ana content on the web, shrunken mannequins; it’s all become so standard that we begin to internalize it without noticing. When unrealistic images flood our senses, it’s hard to remember that that’s neither the standard, nor is it healthy.
Recent campaigns to try to get magazines (like Seventeen) to be more body-positive have largely been shut down by publishers and advertisers, who claim that skipping out on Photoshop and using models who are closer to the average woman’s size just won’t work. But the demand is for more realistic representations of the female body is growing–especially as more women become aware of what they’re seeing.
Check out this infographic, and think about how often you’re exposed to images that perpetuate the myth that thinness is the same as happiness, healthiness, and beauty. You can see a larger version of it here.