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Fashion and Image

posted Oct 23, 2010, 2:11 AM by Diana Rohini LaVigne   [ updated Oct 23, 2010, 2:11 AM ]

By Diana Rohini La Vigne

Fashion is about fads that come and go overnight. Predicting next season's look can determine one's level of success for the coming year. Fashion is image and how it is used and viewed by society. Your hair, face, and style are all under serious critique daily by hundreds. Your body goes through even more scrutiny. Let's face it, image is how we are judged, treated, and live our lives! Image, like most things, is greatly affected by current trends. So if you are hip and happening today it doesn't guarantee that you will be considered hip and trendy tomorrow. How can one keep up with the quickly changing images?

There is a growing trend that may help address this issue. Natural looks and the use of all body types in advertising and the entertainment industry are making a serious impact on the nation. This trend is sweeping the country and grabbing hold of some role models and may result in positive change. Although we still remain a nation fixated on body image, the surge of acceptance of plus sized models and entertainment figures is refreshing.

Rosie O'Donnell, Rosanne, Fashion Model Emme, Ricki Lake, Kate Dillion, Delta Burke, and Oprah have all had self doubt about their appearance but are still increasing in popularity despite their plus size. Prejudges against plus sized individuals affect job opportunities, job advancements, social acceptance and popularity, and a whole host of assumptions that are attributed to their weight. Some assumptions made are that the person is lazy, not interested in their health, or that they lack self-confidence or awareness. 56% of women diet periodically and 76% of women diet for appearance, not health.

Americans struggle with body image. For example, Marilyn Monroe has been a role model for the perfect body image for decades. Women work hard to achieve her body type yet Marilyn Monroe wore a size 12. Marilyn wasn't a thin lady but used her body type to her advantage. She was sexy, beautiful, and popular. This case is unique. Typically being thin is linked to wealth, success, and happiness by having beautiful, thin women playing glamorous characters on television, in film and advertisements. Unattractive, overweight women typically play poor, unsuccessful, and unhappy characters.

Our image of perfect is not achievable. Barbie, who was first introduced as a doll in the image of a well-known porn star, is a body type that is unachievable. Barbie's hip, bust, and shoe size on living women would make her unable to walk upright. She would need to crawl! Yet this is a major role model in the eyes of many young girls today. It is no wonder that, according to the web site About-face.org, 81% of 10 year olds are restrained eaters. By 6th grade, 79% of all girls want to be thinner than they are. By 13, 80% of all girls have dieted. The brighter side is that a new, less hourglass Mattel doll has been introduced.

Ideal women portrayed in magazines are 5'8"-5'10" and weighs 110-120 pounds. Only 10% of the female population fit this ideal. A new publication has arrived that gears its articles and advertisements to the rest of the population that falls into a majority pool which is sizes 12-16. Mode, a nationally distributed fashion magazine, uses models only 12 + up and refuses to print ads or articles about dieting. This bold move put Mode on the map with its first issue. Wildly popular now, Mode will be published for years to come.

So you want to hear more information or talk about your concerns? The MassachusettsEating Disorder Association has a great web site with lots of information and leads on how to recognize an eating disorder. To contact them, you can e-mail MEDA at info@medainc.org, or call them at 617.558.1881 or write to MEDA, 92 Pearl Street,NewtonMA 02458.

So where do we see ourselves in the fashion industry in 10 years? 20 years? 50 years? The increased popularity of self-acceptance is inspirational. Fashion is moving forward and into new territory. It is up to you to speak your mind. Let publications and the media know how you feel about the images you see. Your voice needs to be heard in order for fashion to stay true to those it serves.