With an ever-growing media industry more and more young people are heavily influenced by what they see on television, social networking and in magazines. A serious topic that is frequently brought up is the idea of the ‘Perfect Body’.
Young children grow up with the image of a ‘perfect body’ in their minds which is completely unachievable, growing up with toys like Barbie and Ken giving children a false idea of what they must aim to look like. Disney has also enforced this idea of the ‘perfect’ life, with princesses with long flowing hair, a perfect figure and the ideal life. So have this generation been brought up with false sense of reality?
Two Barbie dolls get sold every second around the world to their target audience which is aimed at young girls from the ages of three, to 12. Girls normally buy their first Barbie around three years old and collects up to seven. What is shocking is that when the ‘Slumber Party Barbie’ was released in 1965 it came with a bathroom scale set permanently at 110lbs (7.9 stone) and a book called ‘how to lose weight’ with directions stating ‘don’t eat.
As well as these dolls, women on television, in adverts and in magazines, give the idea that that is how you should look. Airbrushing, which gives models flawless skin, glowing hair and the perfect figure have played a role in how many children are affected by an eating disorder.
More people, aged from as young as 12 to 25 are in the age range for the onset of anorexia. 1.6million people are affected by an eating disorder with one in ten being men. Since last year, the number of girls aged 10-15 who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder has risen by 69%. Of those cases 40% have bulimia, 10% with anorexia, and the rest with other types of eating disorders.
Studies have shown that if Barbie were real she would not be able to support her head with a neck that is six inches thinner than the average woman’s. With six inch ankles and kids size 3 shoes, her top heavy figure would mean that she would have to walk on all fours. Barbie’s waist-hip ratio is 0.56 which means that its id 56% of her hip circumference, whereas the average woman’s is 80%. Her legs are 50% longer than her arms, with the average being 20%; and they are also thinner, only 16 inches in girth. Barbie’s waist is also so only 16 inches; meaning that she would only be able to fit half a liver and a few inches of intestine.
Famous icons such as: Keira Knightley, Kate Moss, Lily Allen, Victoria Beckham, Audrey Hepburn and even Princess Diana; have all suffered from different types of eating disorders, and celebrities like these are setting a bad example for the future generations.
However, recently, the Barbie doll manufacturer, Mattel redesigned Barbie’s body mould, giving her a wider waist and said that “this would make the doll better suited to contemporary fashion designs.” But is this enough to make children realise that skinny doesn’t necessarily mean happy or healthy?