Models are beautiful, and they are everywhere -- all over the pages of your favorite magazines, strutting down the runway on television, posing happily in store catalogs. When you're bombarded with these images every day, it's nearly impossible to escape them. Unfortunately, a study in the "Journal of Consumer Research" has found that models -- and their often rail-thin bodies -- can do a number on a woman's self-esteem, especially if you're naturally on the larger side. So if you're looking to shrink your body down to model-size, there are several factors you should keep in mind.
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There is such a thing as being too skinny. In fact, the majority of models have a body mass index that puts them in the anorectic range, according to Rader Programs eating disorder specialists. They explain that while the average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds, the average runway model is 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 117 pounds. According to the National Institute of Health, a low BMI presents many risks, including low bone mass and bone density loss, among others.
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The models in your favorite magazine might seem unbelievably thin, but the truth is that many of those photos are enhanced digitally, says Lovelylish online magazine. In fact, most major magazines have admitted to airbrushing models in the past, says CNN, including magazines aimed at young adults, such as "Seventeen" magazine. In other words, you might be striving for a body that isn't even real.
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According to model Kira Dikhtyar, many models go through extreme lengths to maintain their stick thin bodies. "Packs of cigarettes, daily colonics, laxatives, Phentermine diet pills, Adderal, prescription drugs that suppress the appetite," she told Fox News in 2012. "I’ve heard stories that some modeling agents encourage girls to do speed and cocaine in order to speed up metabolism and eat less. And all kinds of injections are becoming more and more popular, from HCG injections that go with a 500-calorie diet plan to T3 thyroid injections that healthy models inject in an attempt to speed up their thyroid function, which results in a faster metabolism." The bottom line is that these bodies are often unnatural.
Everyone is Different
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According to New York University, women should understand that everyone's body is shaped differently. As long as your BMI is within the normal range, or if your doctor considers you healthy, you shouldn't worry about shaping your body after a model's -- an impossible pursuit. Instead, focus on strengthening your self-esteem for a happier, healthier life, they say.
- New York Times: Drilling Down - Models Strike a Chord in Self-Esteem
- Rader Programs: Eating Disorders and Media Influence
- National Institute of Health: Low body mass index is an important risk factor for low bone mass and increased bone loss in early postmenopausal women. Early Postmenopausal Intervention Cohort (EPIC) study group.
- CNN: Seventeen magazine vows not to alter images, to 'celebrate every kind of beauty'
- New York University: Body Image Trends In Society
- Fox News: Pills, injections and plain starvation
Debbie Lechtman is a writer living in Hartford, Conn. She has a degree in magazine journalism from Syracuse University. In the past, she has worked for major national publications, specializing in fitness and wellness. Currently, she works as a writer and copywriter and is awaiting the upcoming publication of two short stories in literary magazines.