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The Ugly Truths About Fashion Magazines Print E-mail

"I wish I have a killer body like Gisele Bundchen..."

"I am sick and tired of my fat thighs. If only I could have slim and never-ending legs like that of Adriana Lima..."

Have these thoughts ever raced through your mind? Have you ever flipped through the glossy pages of fashion magazines, looked at the gorgeous models, and wistfully wished that you too, possess the same flawless complexion, beautifully toned abs and hourglass figure?

Thanks to the media and their often unrealistic portrayal of the models, we have grown accustomed to what is perceived as "beautiful" and "perfect". In a world where capitalism and consumerism power our economy, the standards of "beauty" are made harder and harder to attain by many.

As the University of Missouri-Columbia uncovered in a study, women were negatively affected just by being exposed to photographs of fashion models for three minutes. Irrespective of the subjects' ages, body shapes, height and clothing sizes, all felt bad about their own bodies after admiring the rail-thin blonde bombshells. That's how fast and effective these portrayals eat into our own body image and self esteem.

Fashion magazines have long been criticised by many as a negative influence on the body image of millions of women around the world. 

"Weight isn't even the issue in this case. Viewing these pictures was just bad for everyone," said Laurie Mintz, associate professor of education, school and counseling psychology in the MU College of Education in Missouri, USA.

"It had been thought that women who are heavier feel worse than a thinner woman after viewing pictures of the thin ideal in the mass media. The study results do not support that theory," she added.

Although it is a known fact that the photographs of models are more often than not digitally altered to have slimmer legs, softer skin and bigger bust-lines, women are subliminally conditioned to believe that this is the ideal standard of beauty - usually attainable if you buy into the advertisers' products and services!

To quote from the article "Photographic Truth in the Digital Era" in Media Awareness Network, an online media resource: "Digital manipulation is the foundation of the fashion and beauty industry, where air-brushed and digitally enhanced portrayals of ideal male and female beauty promote standards of attractiveness that are impossible to achieve."

Such practices are also commonplace today: Self, an American magazine that promotes healthy living, admitted to doctoring Kelly Clarkson's photo on the cover of its September 2009 issue, to make her look more confident and healthy. Its editors explained that the photos published serve to "inspire women to want to be their best" - even if these touched-up photos do not truly reflect the real person! Read more here.

Don't fall prey to the fashion and media tactic. Pointless pursuit of their high, unrealistic beauty standards can lead to dissatisfaction with your own body, and subconsciously cause you to develop a poor body image and low self-worth.

True confidence comes from being comfortable in your own skin and loving yourself for what you are blessed with. It is important to accept that you are one truly unique being.

By cultivating a strong affinity to your own body and feeling good about your strong personality traits and qualities, you can truly celebrate your own beauty and uniqueness!

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