Body Image Essay

Body Image Essay

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BEAUTY has always preoccupied women. But over the past two centuries, as women have gained more rights, the association of self-worth and appearance has intensified. "There has been this enormous change from girls being principally concerned with good works to now being concerned with good looks as a measure of their self-worth," says Joan Jacobs Brumberg, author of "The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls" and "Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa." Brumberg attributes the transformation in girls' behaviors to changes in technology, the coming of mirrors, modern hygiene, the rise of consumerism and popular culture. Attitudes towards attractiveness and ideals of beauty "have changed drastically over the past centuries," she says. This timeline traces many of the body trends leading up to today's ultra-thin archetype. 1950s: Black magazines like Ebony preach the advantages of lighter skin. Training bras and girdles become common. Marilyn Monroe epitomizes shifting beauty standards, with a change in focus from weight to large breasts. 1959: Phentermine (Phen), an appetite suppressant that increases the body's metabolism, is approved by the Federal Drug Administration to help speed weight loss. 1960s: Skirt hems rise and pants become acceptable for women. Dieting becomes popular. Weight Watchers is founded in 1963, recruits 500,000 members and grosses $5.5 million in revenues. Doctors prescribe amphetamines to women seeking weight loss. 1963: "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan ignites the modern American women's movement. 1965: The average fashion model weighs eight percent less than the average American woman. The National Organization for Women, advocating women's rights, is founded in America. 1967: British fashion model Twiggy arrives in America weighing 91 pounds on a 5-foot-7-inch frame, triggering a shift in average sizes for fashion models. 1968: Feminists burn bras, make up and high heels to protest the Miss America beauty pageant. 1970s: The toned look becomes popular, contrasting the former thin ideal. The trend continues into the 1980s with exercise tapes promoting fitness. 1971: The First serious look at images of females in advertising found four stereotypes: woman's place is in the home women do not make important decisions or do important things women are dependent on men and need their protection men regard women as sex objects 1973: "Our Bodies, Ourselves," is published by the Boston Women's Health Collective, encouraging women to take charge of their bodies and their health. Fenfluarmine (Fen), which suppresses appetite by lowering levels of the brain chemical serotonin, is approved by the FDA. 1977: Liquid-protein diets are banned temporarily after three deaths are reported during the decade. Jane Fonda's "Workout Book" epitomizes the fitness craze. Liposuction is imported from France and approved in America. Twenty deaths are reported during its first six years in America. 1981:"Fat is a Feminist Issue," by Susie Orbach argues that food and fat are tied up with gender and power. 1983: Singer Karen Carpenter dies at age 32 from anorexia nervosa, bringing eating disorders to America's attention. 1984: Radiance, a magazine for larger women, is started. 1987: The average model weighs 23 percent less than the average American woman. 1990s: Five million American women suffer from eating disorders. 1991: "The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women," by Naomi Wolf, is a bestseller. 1995: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates 11 million women have eating disorders. 1996: The diet drug Redux is approved by the FDA as an appetite suppressant for obese individuals. 1997: Diet drugs Redux and fenfluramine are voluntarily taken off the market at the request of the FDA, citing studies reporting heart valve disorders. Mode, a glossy fashion magazine for women "size 12 and above", wins Ad Week's Start-up of the Year award for business performance and innovation. 1999: Cellansene, a herbal remedy made of gingko, biloba, sweet clover and grapeseed extracts, claimed to reduce cellulite, comes to America from Australia.

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