When They Were Curvy: Before

These pictures were taken in the prime of these entertainer/socialite's careers. They were considered 'curvy' women of entertainment. Somewhere along the timeline, they were told that thin would soon be in and the following occured...

When They Were Curvy: After

These women have always been beautiful. They were considered beautiful enough to be stars with their curves, so what made them think they needed to lose them? What happened between the ’90s and today? You can see evidence of the thinning of Hollywood women, but it seems like it suddenly sped up to an extreme point in the last two decades.

Image Warp

This picture of a young women looking into a carnival flexible mirror, implies the way that women look at themselves has much to do with what the media portrays as beautiful. An underlying representation of this photograph states that the images young women are fed in the media may also lead to body body shame and body dismorphia.

Body Image

This is a very accurate representation of body dismorphia. This is the body of someone suffering from an eating disorder and this is the reflection they see.  The woman in the reflection, in fact, is beautiful and healthy. With the media portrayals of what beauty is and how everyone must look a certain way to be accepted in society, women are now, more than ever, developing body shame and eating disorders.

Male-Targeted Advertising

As displayed in this cover for Men’s Health, the focus in idealized ads and images featuring males is on musculature. No mention of weight loss, in terms of pound-shedding, is made. Additionally, the focus seems to be on overall health and fitness, not on making “problem areas” more aesthetically appealing.

vs. Female-Targeted Advertising

In contrast, one cover for the popular Seventeen Magazine boasts an exercise designed to help girls obtain their “best butt.” Glamour advertises 131 methods for achieving “your best body.” The word “best” is ambiguous. It could be interpreted in many ways—more fit, more firm, or more lean. Glamour’s subheading, “What to Eat to Lose Eight Pounds This Month,” may shed light on the intended meaning. Glamour seems to equate a better body with a body that weighs less. As no mention of health or overall fitness is made on either cover, the message seems to be that weighing less is better for you, regardless of whether or not you shed the pounds through healthy means. While Glamour may be targeted at an older audience than Seventeen, it is worth noting that the magazine chose to advertise weight loss tips on a cover featuring Miley Cyrus, a celebrity whose primary audience consists of pre-adolescent girls.

Implicit Weight-Loss Associations

These are images of all the weight-loss advertisements that were featured in the April 6th edition of the TBT. Reflective of the trends in most weight-loss advertising, all of the weight-loss ads in the TBT solely featured female models or female figures.

Two of the ads equate weight-loss to confidence. This implication contributes to the establishment of a cognitive connection between weight and confidence, self-esteem, and self-image in the minds of girls and women.

Implicit Weight-Loss Assoc. Continued

This cover of Glamour equates weight loss, or more broadly appearance, to happiness. This concept seems to be a running theme in the media, as the TBT ads also associated weight-loss with a concept related to happiness, confidence. The implication that weight loss brings about happiness sends an unsafe message to females—if you want to be happy, confident and feel good about yourself, you have to lose weight.

Female Weight-Loss and Sex Appeal

 Many forms of female-targeted media concerning weight loss emphasize attractiveness and sex appeal as primary goals. This is in stark contrast to the nature of male-oriented media which focuses on the male's personal goals for his body and/or personal fitness. As shown in the aforementioned cover of Men’s Health, no mention is made of losing weight to improve one’s sex appeal or attractiveness to women. Men’s physical fitness is portrayed as a personal and independently-motivated endeavor. Women’s weight-loss, however, seems to be inexorably tied to gaining the approval of their male counterparts.   

Fashion Advertisements

Many women and young girls want nothing more than to wear the latest fashions and keep up with what they read in magazines. If these advertisements are all that women have to base what females "should" look like on, it's no wonder that many young girls have body image issues. Unfortunately, young girls and women see photos such as these and take extreme measures to look the same way.

Curvy was IN!

In the 1950's, Marilyn Monroe's figure was something women all over the world wanted to have. Her curvy fugure was considered ideal at that time, and the female obsession soon became acquiring curves. According to many sources, Marilyn Monroe was a size 14- which in today's society is considered chubby or overweight. Today, many women cringe at even thinking about being a size 14. It is common for girls and women to jokingly remark on becoming a size two or zero, or a even doube zero! In the time of Marilyn Monroe, there was no such thing as a double zero.

Too Young to be Worrying

According to a research study done across the nation, "81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat" (Healthy Place). The age for body image awareness is getting younger and younger, and the media is not helping slow that process. In a society where 50% of women are currently dieting, there is no room for any more negativity. These same women that constantly diet and strive to be "perfect" like the people they see in magazines are also setting examples for their own children. When a young girl or boy sees their own parents obsession with "perfect" bodies, that can only lead to a future of body image issues.

Unrealistic Demands

The media is not only negative for young girls; young boys are also thrown into a confusing world. Young boys grow up to be men who grew up with action figures who are masculine, muscular and save the world. Society has put unrealistic demands on our children, and that can lead to a lifetime of never feeling good enough. We are living in a world where young boys grow up idolizing heros like Batman, Superman and Spiderman; who fight crime while looking buff. It's amazing that the statsitics for men's low self-esteem isn't higher.

The Media Lies

Some people view celebrities as near-perfect visages of beauty and, understandably, want to emulate these "idols".  However, most people do not realize that celebrities rarely look like the figures that appear in magazine photo-spreads. The media has propogated a conception of beauty that no one can achieve. Photo-shopping and other digital enhancement is one tool used by the media to carry out this deception. If magazines allowed untouched photos to grace the pages of their publications, then people would realize that this conception of beauty is far-fetched. The pictures shown above demonstrate this phenomenon.

The first picture is of plus-sized actress America Ferrera on the cover of Glamour Magazine.
The picture on the right is of Ferrera on the red carpet at a recent event. Comparing both images, it is apparent that Ferrera's image had been digitally enhanced to make her appear thinner. This practice contributes to the establishment of unrealistic ideas about normal body shapes and sizes.

Digital Deception

These two pictures are of reality star Kim Kardashian. The image on the left is an unretouched photo of Kardashian taken for a magazine shoot.  On the right, the image is shown post-photoshopping. Clearly, her likeness was altered to eliminate her cellulite, slim her figure, and lighten her complexion. Again, this pratice sends women dangerous messages about                                                                                  attractiveness and normality.

Celebrity Digest

This picture is of actress Kate Bosworth. Bosworth first gained notoriety in the movie Blue Crush as the girl next door. Portraying a female surfer, she displayed a toned, yet reasonably healthy figure in the film.

 Shrinking Frames

Left, is a picture of Kate Bosworth after appearing in Blue Crush. It is apparent the she lost a tremendous amount of weight compared to her former appearance. Instead of healthy, attainable figures, Hollywood starlets seem to favor gaunt, waif-like frames. This sends a detrimental message to impressionable young women about beauty and can have a negative impact on self-esteem.

The Opposite Effect



The two pictures above are of actress Eva Longoria. In 2008, Eva gained weight for her role on Desperate Housewives and the media was in an uproar. Despite the disapproving remarks of critics in the media, you can see from the before and after pictures that, even with her weight gain, Eva was never overweight. Starlets who, by normal standards, appear slim are often criticized for being too heavy. This practice undoubtedly contributes to the establishment of unhealthy body-image in young women and can lead to the development of body dysmorphic disorder.