Tuesday December 12, 2017

Here is Why Mannequins are responsible for the Rise of ‘Body Image’ Issues!

Mannequins are found to have unusual body types that can be matched almost to a severely underweight woman

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Mannequins in clothing stores
Mannequins at display in clothing stores. Pixabay
  • Most of the mannequins occupying the fashion-stores are not only disturbingly thin, and possess quite unusual and chiseled looks
  • It has been revealed that eating disorders, thyroid problems are among the number of issues that are caused due to such shapes
  • Altering the shape and size of the regular mannequins will not resolve the issues and solve the body-image problems in an instant

June 22, 2017: When we walk into a retail shop or a clothing store, we are confronted by mannequins whose shapes are nothing that resemble most of the girls and the women that we know. Most of the mannequins occupying the fashion-stores are not only disturbingly thin, and possess quite unusual and chiseled looks.

Mannequins are found to have unusual body types that can be matched almost to a severely underweight woman. Now, this unrealistic representation of the human body is not only confined to female mannequins; the male counterparts of those life-sized statues are not any different. But the women of the society have been observed to be more affected by this unrealistic representation of the human shape, because body-image issues impact the women more than it does so to the men.

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Surveys and research all over the world show that multiple diseases and problems are caused by the mannequins with their ‘emaciated’ body shapes. It has been revealed that eating disorders, thyroid problems are among the number of issues that are caused due to such shapes; as women, mostly children and teenagers and the young adults, tend to acquire the unrealistic chiseled shapes like the model mannequins of the store as the fashion clothing on those are appealing to the extreme. Hence, the desire to possess such a body results into eating disorders and multiple other problems including the heavy obsession with surgeries and intake of steroids and such stimulators that affect the muscles and the cells. Failing to do that, one falls prey to depression. It has become a widespread issue around the globe now.

In young girls, the obsession for dolling up and looking perfect like the hugely famous Barbie doll is quite an old issue. The ultra-thin mannequins donning attractive outfits in the fashion stores, take that issue one step further as to leading the young girls into believing that the body shapes flaunted by those mannequins are the standardized representation of a perfect female form. Hence, an overweight kid is often found to be depressed or suffering from inferiority complex, born from the fear of not being accepted into the society.

Absurdly thin mannequins have been an age-old topic of conversation. But, given the rise of body-positivity and abolishing the social stigma of fat-shaming and body-image issues, the unrealistic representation of the female body by the mannequins, is a much-researched concern now.

Altering the shape and size of the regular mannequins will not resolve the issues and solve the body-image problems in an instant. It has to be communicated to the young girls, adolescents, and the young-adult females of the society, that the unattainable body-shape showcased by the mannequins, is not the ideal human form to chase after! Also, the society needs to become more open-minded, less judgmental, and way more accepting in order to lift the curse posed by body-image issues. We still have a long way to go. But the change should begin now, the time has arrived!

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

Next Story

Drop-dead (to become) Gorgeous? How Social Media Corrupts our Definition of Body Image

Researchers believe that social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are even more harmful than stipulated websites in support of anorexia due to the increased accessibility and wider target audience of as these mediums.

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Anorexia is not photogenic. Instagram

New Delhi, November 1, 2017 : I have grown up as a conscious kid; hours spent looking at pictures of strangers with perfectly toned bodies have been like an everyday ritual, carried out religiously, day after day. But thankfully, my fascination for the ‘ideal’ body that ruled the internet never materialized and it was not long before I became happy in my own skin.

Years later, I look at my 12 year old sister, who wishes to consume only watermelon juice because that’s what her favorite blogger does too, to maintain her fit body. She is my teenage sister’s ‘#fitspo’, she proudly announces.

Just a young teenager, where is she getting all this information from, you’d wonder.

The answers is; everywhere!

We are all chasing unrealistic expectations when it comes to our body image, courtesy the enormous content we consume over different social media.

Social media has completely radicalized the way we see body image- ourselves and other people, and transformed the way we interact with the larger society.

If analyzed duly,
aren’t we all seeking validation
on the internet at the
expense of a ‘like’?

You can never be sure which side you will be on – messages on social media can spread self-hatred, animosity, encouragement, joy and a myriad of other emotions. It is like this that movements have created not just ripples but waves on the social media; some positive while others more damaging than we are prepared to handle.

People are constantly being bombarded with pictures of the body image that is ‘goals’, the ‘ideal’ body; photos and videos of people dieting and exercise have become a part of mainstream generation, so much so that the hashtag fitspo is one of the most used hashtag of the present times.

This increased proliferation of the ‘ideal’ body image often has people comparing themselves to images of strangers and people online, hoping to be more like them.

We are at a phase of life when
images of strangers’ bodies and lifestyles not only affect but govern our lives-
in ways that may be far beyond
our expectations.

According to a study published in October, it was revealed that an increasing number of people are celebrating extreme thinness on various social media accounts. The research, carried out by researchers at University of Exeter, shed light on the hundreds of users, especially women, who were praising anorexic bodies on Twitter and Instagram under the umbrella term ‘thinspiration’.

The Research

Researchers analyzed 734 images that were posted on Twitter, Instagram and We Heart It with indicative hashtags- #thinspiration, #bonespiration and #fitspiration.

body image
An anorexic model. Pixabay

 

The images that came under the scanner were selfies taken by girls, boasting about their withered bodies by highlighting their protruding collar bones, spine, rib cage and hip bones.

It was revealed that an alarming amount of content online is dedicated to glorifying such shrunken bodies, plagued by eating disorders.

Shockingly, the researchers found that every shared image was complimented alongside proud captions boasting about the calories they had consumed that day, or how they ‘totally rock a thigh gap’.

 

 

The Instagram Effect

I remember being in school when the entire ruckus about a thigh-gap gained momentum. After almost 5 years, I am a 22 year-old adult now, and the world continues to rave about the thigh-gap.

Different eating orders, even umbrella terms like “Pro-Ana” and “Pro-Mia” that were essentially aimed at promoting anorexia and bulimia as an ideal lifestyle choice, are not new. However, the only difference is the dangerously new breeding platform that social media has provided to these hazardous body image campaigns.

Researchers are convinced that social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are even more harmful than stipulated websites in support of anorexia due to the increased accessibility and wider target audience of as these mediums.

Not very surprisingly, the Bonespiration movement has now become rampant – easily accessible with hashtags like needtobethin, thinspiration, fitspo, etc, pro-eating disorder and a specifically shrunken body image content drive this campaign on almost all social media platforms.

According to Claire Mysko, spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association, “Thinspiration is content that promotes weight loss but often in a way that actively glorifies eating disordered behavior and thoughts.”

#Thinspo and #Fitspo And Eating Disorders

#Thinspo :  The thinspiration or the thinspo movement has an enormous presence with almost all bloggers and models using it as a hashtag in their posts. Although thinspo does not categorically promote eating disorders, it is dominated by images of unrealistically (and dangerously) thin women (and sometimes men), who portray themselves as the ideal body image; an inspiration for people to lose enormous amounts of weight.

#Fitspo : The fitspiration, or fitspo hashtag initially emerged as a counter movement to thinspo by promoting healthy eating and working out culture but it is popularly believed that the movement makes use of equally unrealistic and hence dangerous imagery.

body image
Fitspo can loosely translate to being obsessed with healthy eating and working out. Pixabay

These extreme behaviors foster unhealthy expectations in the minds of individuals who then begin to seek impossible results from their diets and exercise plans to look like the ‘ideal’ bodies that rule the internet.

Various researches are known to have noted that constant exposure to such content psychologically affects users.

According to another study published in January by researchers at University of Adelaide (Australia), it was found that women posting ‘fitspiration’ posts on Instagram are at a greater risk of suffering from eating disorders.

Additionally, anorexia nervosa reports nearly 10 per cent mortality rate, thus being the most dangerous psychological disorder. People who do not die from anorexia can still suffer health effects like loss of bone mass, damage to heart, and withered immune system.

In 2012, Instagram had banned the use of five hashtags “thinspiration”, “imugly”,  “anorexia”, “proana”, and “thighgap”.

However, that did little to no help as propagators of these body image hashtag trends look for alternate spellings or combinations of words that are close to the original and can convey similar meanings. You would be surprised to know that despite the ban, there continue to be more than 1,44,000 posts tagged #bonespo on Instagram to date.

body image
Notice the variations in spelling, following the ban of the hashtag thinspiration. Instagram

Is There No End?

Social media has garnered a lot of criticism for such gregarious body image content that propagates unhealthy behaviors and attitudes, because of which some social media sites have updated their guidelines and instructed users to strictly not post content promoting self-harm in any manner, doing which can lead to dismissal of their accounts. However, how practical is it to monitor the billions of posts that are shared on a daily basis?

While several hashtags like #pro-ana or #pro-mia have been banned by social media vigilantes, several users continue to post #thinspiration content with new hashtags that haven’t been recognized by the social media police.

Certainly, this has emerged as an online epidemic, now beyond the realm and control of social media.

Approach to Recovery

Every coin as a flip side.

Social media platforms also combine pro-recovery groups that make use of hashtags that people seeking a way out search for.

“It is like an intervention”.

– Claire Mysko,
                     director of programs,
the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), USA

Individuals seeking recovery from an unhealthy lifestyle or anorexia can connect with people who have been affected by similar notions of an unhealthy body image and eating disorders and receive comments of encouragement from all over the world – the warmth and the support are literally like getting a virtual hug.

Instagram has also now installed a filter that offers support every time a user searcher for similar dangerous words like anorexia.

body image
Support filter on Instagram. Instagram

~  NewsGram supports all things healthy.  

We urge you to go online and have a look yourself at all the ‘thinspiration’ posts. They tend to glamorize anorexia and promote frail models and starvation, ignoring their health and well being.

Anorexia is not photogenic.

Anorexia is not glamorous. Not from the outside, definitely not from the inside.

 

Next Story

Mannequins promoting ‘dangerously thin’ and unrealistic body ideal, can be dangerous for Young Adults

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Mannequins, Wikimedia

London, May 3, 2017: Don’t go by the body size of fashion store mannequins for they are “too thin” and promote unrealistic body ideals which can be dangerous for young adults, warn researchers.

The study, published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, found that the average female mannequin’s body size was representative of a severely underweight woman.

These ultra-thin models may prompt body image problems and encourage eating disorders in young people, the researchers said.

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“Because ultra-thin ideals encourage the development of body image problems in young people, we need to change the environment and reduce emphasis on the value of extreme thinness,” said Eric Robinson, from the University of Liverpool in Britain.

However, altering the size of high street fashion mannequins alone would not “solve” body image problems.

“What we are instead saying is that presentation of ultra-thin female bodies is likely to reinforce inappropriate and unobtainable body ideals. So as a society we should be taking measures to stop this type of reinforcement,” Robinson said.

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“Given that the prevalence of body image problems and disordered eating in young people is worryingly high, positive action that challenges communication of ultra-thin ideal may be of particular benefit to children, adolescents and young adult females,” he noted.

For the study, the team surveyed national fashion retailers located on the high street of two cities in Britain.

The average male mannequin’s body size was significantly larger in contrast to the average female mannequin’s body size and only a small proportion of male mannequins represented an underweight body size. (IANS)