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Fashion Trends Have Effected females’ Self-esteem

Fashion can be thought of as a type of art utilizing cultural materials to transform the appearance of the natural body. It communicates things like social status and sex as well as enhancing attractiveness. While it may have evolutionary links with the flamboyant displays of peacocks and other birds it is clearly a way in which humans distance themselves from the natural world. Through the years, the definition for what was thought to be beautiful has changed a great deal, but culture as always had control over women’s bodies. The multi-billion dollar fashion and beauty industry of today moves at such a fast pace that trends come and go everyday. What was considered beautiful two hundred years ago probably wouldn’t be thought of in the same way today? The fashions and trends that have occurred over the past four decades are leading to a problem that is getting worse every year. It was somehow decided many years ago that it was desirable for women to be thin, or at least not over weight. And it seems that most beautiful and most admired women of today’s age get smaller every year. To understand where we are at today, we must first understand the major influences that have happened in the fashion industry in the past 40 years.

What has to be known as the “Youth Culture” started in the 160’s? During the same period of time Barbie was introduced to young girls. Though meant to be an ideal in “feminine glamour”, Barbie was very unrealistically proportioned, with larger than average breasts, extremely long legs, and very slender hips. Fashion went to extremely different lengths during this decade. The fashion industry cut inches from the hems of skirts, creating the very popular miniskirt. Women started wearing bikinis instead of one-piece bathing suits, and tight fitting body suits also became popular. These “fashion revolutions” did a great deal for the fashion and beauty industry, but it put a lot of pressure on women and teenagers to stay or become thin (Media 0-1).

The 170’s have become to be known as the “Me” decade; because people started dressing any way they dared to. What people wore wasn’t as important as it once was, but how the person looked continued to gain importance. The use of teenage models continued. This left woman an unwritten code of beauty that held thinness as very important. The desire to be muscular and toned continued to flourish in the eighties. More pressure than ever was put on women to diet and exercise, and as in years before, the use of younger models increased. Calvin Klein began a series of advertisements that contained shots of young men and women who portrayed an ideal body image small framed bodies with baby-like facial features set in a sexually provocative pose (Media 4).

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The 10’s brought forth a style of body that many people have tried to obtain. The “Waif Look” is a lot like the first youth models of the sixties, but taller and even thinner. The young models that portray this look have super straight bodies, and stick thin arms and legs. The youth trend that has gone on over the past few decades continues strong today. In fact, models are beginning at younger and younger ages. Most begin at around 15, although it is not surprising to see thirteen-year-old girls on the fashion runways of Paris and Milan (Media 5-7). In turn, these girls unintentionally force the older, more proportioned, models to lose weight and try to reduce their bodies to the size of their almost pre-pubescent competition. The average female has a height of five feet and five inches and should weigh in at about 117-156 pounds. The average model is about 5’10’’ and weighs only approximately 15 pounds. Women across the country look at models like Kate Moss and wonder where they are going wrong in their diets and exercise routines. Most people aren’t aware that the average model weighs about % less than the average female of their age (Media 1), and still think it is perfectly normal and attainable to have a body like Kate Moss’. In all actuality, only 10% of the nations’ population genetically fit models’ height and weight zone.

Thee desperate need to look younger, thinner and more attractive as become a near obsession with millions of American teenagers. Teenagers turn to models and celebrities to define how they should look, and as a direct result develop problems with their self-esteem and become obsessed with their bodies. At a very crucial and stressful point in their lives, their bodies are experiencing changes and are starting to develop. Cover models portray the perfect face and teenagers tend to want to be like them. They want to look like the girl in the cover of Seventeen or the actors they see on television. What they do not realize is that these models have been chosen from hundreds of other aspiring models and under go a lot of preparation in order to be ready for a photo shoot. If the teenagers are not careful, they can begin to lose self-esteem, because they want to look like someone else. Sadly, more and more young women want to be the stereotypical ideal, and are pre-occupied with becoming or staying thin.

In a survey conducted in 18 by USA Weekend in partnership with Channel One, for their 11th Annual Special Teen Report, as many as 7,000 teens ranging from grades 6-1 were asked a variety of questions reflecting how they think of themselves, their parents, their friends and other related topics. Most of the teens say they feel good about themselves in general, but about thee same amount of people felt insecure about their appearance. More than half of the teens feel pressured to look a certain way and a very large percent say that celebrities influence their lives and how they dress (Teens ). Nearly / of all teens surveyed believe that appearance plays an important role in becoming successful and gaining respect in life (4).

Somewhere teenage girls of today have gotten a distorted perception of what is important to their own health and well being. Could it be that the models they admire re making them think that being skinny should be their first priority? As models have decreased in size over the years, so has the self-esteem of our teenage girls. It is interesting to note that the influences of the fashion industry are showing up in weight statistics for real women whose average weight is now on the decrease. Could it be that as the inches are disappearing from the waists’ of models, the self-esteem of our teenage society is disappearing along with them?

A lack of self-esteem can lead to greater health problems. Many teenagers feel pressured to fit in and try to conform to societies ideal body image. They think that if they are skinny, people will like them and they will be accepted. Almost all teenage girls buy or read fashion magazines; the slender supermodels contained within the magazines only reinforce the young teenager’s beliefs that to be accepted they must e thin. What we do not realize is that the minority of people have an image like the cover models’ appearance so it would be logical to have a more realistic image on the cover of a fashion magazine because the customers who buy advertised products and clothes have an ideal image not a supermodel’s image. Lots of teenage girls look at models, as idols and resort to unhealthy methods of weight loss to try and look like them. These unhealthy ways often lead to more serious problems like anorexia and bulimia. Both life-threatening disorders are characterized by lack of self-esteem, and people who suffer from them usually have doubts about their individuality and self worth.

It is needless to say that as society and the fashion industry drop the average size of models, the self-esteem of any bone thin for so long, it is also unhealthy to make the young women of tomorrow feel inadequate. Most young women are blessed with the reality that they are never going to be a famous fashion model, but that does not mean that the same young women don’t envy the models tat do make it. It is obvious that we wont be able to turn back time, and change the way society have developed a pre-occupation with beauty and thinness. We can, however, change the way young women think about themselves. A single positive influence in a teens’ life can be enough to make a world difference. We need to encourage teens to be themselves and to be proud of who they are, so they do not feel pressured to fit in and conform to society. People whom are happy with who they are, are less likely to try and obtain and “ideal” body image, because they accept their bodies the way they are.

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