So apparently Kim K’s ass is looking bigger today, oh now it’s smaller, oh do we really care? You can’t move in the UK for pictures of celebs on gossip websites, in magazines and tabloids, usually accompanied by some kind of thinly veiled comment about their weight. But with studies showing 6.4% of the population display signs of an eating disorder, much higher than previously thought, does this constant bombardment have a part to play?
Charlotte, celebrity magazine addict
We’re savvy enough to know we’ll never have Miranda Kerr’s legs however much we’d like them .
It’s a terrible thing to admit but… I love Tuesdays. OK, so it doesn’t sound that bad but the reason why is.
It’s not because the blahness of Monday morning is way behind us, it’s not because in February you eat pancakes or because Fresh Meat is on telly. No, I love Tuesdays because it’s the day the weekly gossip magazines come out.
First thing this morning I was in Sainsbury’s buying Closer and Grazia. Tomorrow I’ll skim read Heat, Now and Reveal. And every day, when no one’s looking of course, I check out the celebrity pages of Mail online.
Yeah, I’ll have a quick glance at the fashion, discover which unlucky fella Jordan has ensnared this week, check my stars. But what I’m really interested in, the real reason I am such a voracious consumer of celebrity tosh, is that I’m obsessed with celebrities weight.
There, I’ve spilled it, my dirty little secret. I know it’s bad, I know it’s not exactly very ‘go sisters’ of me, but I can’t help it. I’m fascinated by which celeb has put on a few lbs this week (tabloid euphemism ‘celebrating their curves’) and which star’s friends are worried about their ‘skeletal frame’.
I’m fascinated by which celeb has put on a few lbs this week (tabloid euphemism ‘celebrating their curves’) and which star’s friends are worried about their ‘skeletal frame’.
The thing is, if I think about it – and I do, quite a lot – I don’t actually give that much of a stuff. If I see a picture of Kate Moss letting it all hang out while diving off a yacht in the Caribbean I think ‘good on you lass, why should you care?’ Sarah Harding walking through Primrose Hill looking thin, ‘the girls got issues leave her alone’. Geri Halliwell showing off her yoga-toned abs in a bikini, ‘good effort’, someone from TOWIE with a muffin top protruding from her Juicy Couture, ‘wish I got paid to eat donuts then stop again so I could release a fitness DVD in the new year’.
So no, I don’t really care. But yet I can’t stop looking. Celeb mags and thin models are often blamed for a rise in anorexia, body consciousness and promoting unachievable body shapes but, as someone who suffered an eating disorder in my early 20s, I’m not sure that’s the case. I may covet some celebs bodies but, just like their 15 holidays a year and Stella McCartney shoes, it’s something I know I can’t emulate without their million dollar salaries. I’m much more likely to wish I looked like that super-fit girl in the gym and compare myself to friends with their achievable figures than celebrities. Whether young teenagers, who have had far more exposure to these images than we ever did are able to make the distinction, however, is another matter.
At the end of the day though, I think the obsession comes down to plain old nosiness and a dose of ‘covet thy neighbour’. Surely it’s just human nature to look and compare?
Marisa Peer, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist
The media plays a big part in how we see ourselves, just ask Peter Andre
In Figi, an island where they didn’t have TV until the 90s, people hadn’t really heard of dieting. Within three years of having TV piped in though, nearly 75% of teenage girls said they felt fat and some said they made themselves sick to stay thin. The same thing happened in remote Turkish hill villages. Girls didn’t seem to feel any pressure to be slim or have a certain body shape until they were exposed to the ‘perfect’ bodies of American and European TV stars.
Within three years of Fiji getting TV, nearly 75% of teenage girls said they felt fat and some said they made themselves sick to stay thin.
So yes, it seems the media does influence our body image. Overexposure to perfect bodies is becoming a male problem too with David Gandy in the D&G ads and Daniel Craig stripping down in the Bond films giving guys more to compare themselves with. Peter Andre has spoken out about having an eating disorder and Robbie Williams has admitted to pressures of dieting.
In the golden days of Hollywood we never saw stars looking anything less than perfect. Now though, the images are constant. We see them on the beach, nipping to the shop in their pyjamas, so the images become part of everyday life rather than just a Hollywood dream and we feel they are more achievable. We do though, also love to see celebrities fail. If there’s a story about a celebrity putting on weight it gives us license to fail in our efforts too, I mean if they can’t do it with all their money, personal chefs, trainers etc, how can we?
What we need to realise when we’re looking at these images on screen and in magazines though, is that they’re not real. I meet a lot of celebrities through my work and I can say that, in real life, without all the makeup and camera tricks, many supermodels and pop stars just look like normal girls.
Also, being thin doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Having your flaws constantly pointed out with a big circle in magazines and the pressure of being in the public eye is often what makes these women lose weight in the first place.
When you look at the Spice Girls or Girls Aloud, they may be thin and beautiful but they don’t all seem happy. The ones that seem happiest are the ones who could be described as the ‘bigger’ ones in the group. Geri and Mel C have spoken about eating disorders, Sarah Harding and Cheryl both seem troubled, the ones who appear happiest and most normal are Emma Bunton and Kimberley Walsh. They seem to have figured out that friends, family, good times are much more important than constantly worrying about your weight. And people like them more for it. Likewise with Beyonce, she’s not stick-thin and she admits she has to work damn hard for that figure, she has her flaws and that’s why we love her.
So what do you think? Does the media affect our body image and if so, does it matter?