Define: Role Model
Model: -noun (1) A standard or example for imitation or comparison. (2) A representation to show the construction or appearance of something. (3) A typical form or style. (4) A person employed to wear clothing or pose with a product for purposed of display and advertising.
“Standard”, “representation”, and “typical” were all adjectives used by dictionary.com to describe the definition of a model. Therefore, by definition, a model is supposed to represent a larger body because he, she, or it is similar to and typical of that larger body. A model is chosen to exemplify what is expected of others. So why should a fashion model, displayed in front of a much larger audience, be any different from this definition? They are hired to represent a product or corporation in an advertisement so society can imitate her actions or opinions. Girls of all ages are supposed to be able to compare themselves to a fashion model that acts as an example for others to follow.
However, fashion models are quite opposite of the average female citizen. In 2005, the National Eating Disorders Association published an informational document listing various statistics and facts concerning the eating disorders and diets used by all Americans. Two caught my attention immediately. First off, “the average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds.” On the contrary, “the average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.” Similarly they reported that “most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women.” (www.NationalEatingDisordersAssociation.com)
Clearly, female fashion models are in no way similar to the members within society. On average, they are 7 inches taller and 23 pounds lighter than the vast majority of American women. They are the societal extremes, not norms. But because young girls fixated on the Media exposure around them are unaware of these starling statistics, they do not see the blatant difference between real women in society and the women idealized in advertisements, television shows, and movies. It is not surprising in the least that they develop a distorted viewpoint of beauty at such a young age.
Action must be done to provide young girls tuning into the Media with accurate role models that they can imitate so their opinion of female beauty is restored, such as producing and featuring more advertisements like Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. It is integral to promote a healthy self body image for young girls and women purely as means of preventing utter consequences dealing with eating disorders.