T & A Has Gone Away by Meredith Cagen
I am a child of T.V. It was my friend, babysitter, educator and conduit to the world. It showed me what I should look like, what to wear, established my taste, opinions, wants and desires. T.V. influenced me more than my teachers, friends or family. I think only 22 minutes over the course of a half hour. I naturally allocate thought breaks, as if they were commercials. My role models were on T.V. the stars, actresses, politicians, newscasters, sports figures, models and celebrities that appeared regularly.
I am average: average height, brown hair, average built and average weight. The average size for a woman in the U.S. is size 14 and Americans are getting larger (according to the L.A. Times). Over the course of my multi-decade life, I have yet to see anyone on the tube or in movies that looks like me. Average size women are rarely shown on T.V, unless it is a news program, since average size people make news. Reality T.V. shows usually show beautiful looking thin people. Scripted television shows rarely show average size women, but show average looking women who are thin.
Despite claims that T.V. adds 10 lbs to a person’s body, people on T.V. are unnaturally thin. While flipping channels a model search show got my attention because I saw an average size girl contestant. Immediately, captivated by the show I started to sit down. Before my average butt hit the sofa cushion, the announcer stated that this contestant was a “plus size” model. Average size morphed into plus size.
The one constant for appearing in the media is skinniness. Check out any network, movie, magazine, or newspaper feature section. Normal and average is discouraged and ignored by mass media. It’s replaced with a “you can never be too thin” attitude. Trying to understand the public’s fascination and acceptance of skinny role models is frustrating. Aren’t curves on a woman part of femininity – or has T & A gone away.
Ample breasts and a round butt are desirable female physical attributes. Are those antiquated ideals of beauty replaced by skin & bones with curves becoming a thing of the past. The shrinking woman syndrome is a media darling.
A passive-aggressive approach to body images is presented today. Thin is in, and fat and average are not seen. Unless it is biggest loser fat, the best friend role fat, comedienne fat, character actress fat, talk show host fat or misunderstood emotionally damaged fat and average female bodies are seldom seen.
The significance is clear, life is better (if not perfect) if you are skinny. Healthy, natural and average are extraneous.
All the pressures that girls have to learn to handle, the message to be super thin is an unnecessary burden. Developing strong self esteem and a positive body image is challenging among young girls, some who sadly fall under the spell of super-thinness. This behavior can have tragic results.
I don’t have a platform I am trying to promote. I am not pushing any diet product or program. Americans spend about $35 billion a year on weight-loss products (according to CBS.com). My product is my book, Size Eight in a Size Zero World, ($19.95 on Amazon) which has struck a chord with the public. I’ve received a large number of letters appreciating the fun I poke at women who are a Size Zero and those who want to be. I let my audience know that the desire to be extremely thin is unimportant and ridiculous.
I wish I could end this article with a snappy upbeat solution. But there aren’t any quick fixes or easy answers. The public does not have to accept the proliferation of ultra skinny female media stars. It can reject those images and demand to see average. I will be waiting for that phone call.
My article was written after receiving a heart touching email from one of my readers.
“Your book really hit me at my core. I suffered from anorexia for the last two years of my high school career. I only wish I had read this book earlier. It really made me see how unimportant it is to be extremely thin.” K.A.M.
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