“…But female fat is the subject of public passion, and women feel guilty about female fat, because we implicitly recognize that under the myth, women’s bodies are not our own but society’s, and that thinness is not a private aesthetic, but hunger a social concession exacted by the community.” [4]


Naomi Wolf [8]

“The formula must also include an element that contradicts and then undermines the overall pro-woman fare: in diet, skin care, and surgery features, it sells women the deadliest version of the beauty myth money can buy… When you see the way a woman’s curves swell at the hips and again at the thighs, you could claim that that is an abnormal deformity, Or you could tell the truth: 75% of women are shaped like that, and soft, rounded hips and thighs and bellies were perceived as desirable and sensual without question until women got the vote.” [6]

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

“If you have wasted even a minute of today worrying about the way your hair, breasts or thighs look, or about the wrinkles around your eyes, or whether your winter “wardrobe” is working for you … this book is for you. Wolf argues that beauty is the “last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact”. Somehow we’ve been flogged the idea that to be beautiful (which we must, or else no one will love us) we have to look a certain way: thin, youthful, smooth-skinned, small-nosed, silky-haired, etc. Hey presto: your average woman feels ugly her entire life, and old, too, for most of it. What better way of keeping her in her place?” [1]

In 1991 Naomi Wolf published a book called ‘The Beauty Myth’ in which she blames the media such as fashion magazines for imprinting this idea of perfection on to public, which leads to a high number of Anorexic and Bulimic cases.

“Then big money makes an entrance, and it all gets nice and clear: women who feel old and ugly will buy things they do not need. An “anti-ageing” cream, say, or a blouse very little different from the blouses they already have.” [1]


Lily Allen and Kate Moss [10]

The Beauty Myth is the idea that buy simply allowing yourself to buy something that promotes beauty will make you beautiful.  Recently music artist Lily Allen (Who is known as a close friend of Kate Moss) released a song called ‘Everything’s just wonderful’ in which her lyrics are directly linked to this theory and to Kate Moss.

“…I wanna be able to eat spaghetti bolognaise,
and not feel bad about it for days and days and days.
In the magazines they talk about weight loss,
If I buy those jeans I can look like Kate Moss…” [2]

[3] (1:40 – 1:52)

“Today, women have access to the technological capacity to do anything to our bodies in the struggle for “beauty”, but we have yet to evolve a mentality beyond the old rules, to let them imagine that this combat among women is not inevitable. Surgeons can now do anything. We have not yet reached the age in which we can defend ourselves with an unwillingness to have “anything” done. This is a dangerous time. New possibilities for women quickly become new obligations. ”  [4]

When looking at the idea of “The Beauty Myth” and comparing it to Corinne Day’s idea of Beauty, it is possible to see that Corinne’s idea is not setting a good example to young girls as they feel the need to copy what they see in the magazine (especially as the Heroine Chic look is everywhere at the moment) therefore promoting eating disorders to become extremely thin and using drugs.

Statistics show that there has been a high rise in numbers to do with eating disorders since the Heroine Chic look became popular.

Young People:
·    Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents.
·    Eating disorders are higher among young women with type 1 diabetes than among young women in the general population.
·    95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
·    28% of high school males attempt to gain weight through weight lifting.
·    25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
·    50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight.
·    80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight.
·    15% of young women in the US who are not diagnosed with an eating disorder display substantially disordered eating attitudes and behaviours.
·    About 72% of alcoholic women younger than 30 also have an eating disorder.

Statistics were also released about the Media’s idea of the perfect body for females.

·    The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of the American females.
·    The average model weighs 23% less than the average woman.
·    90% of all girls ages 3-11 have a Barbie doll, an early role model with a figure that is unattainable in real life.
·    47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
·    69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
·    Officials, in Fiji, reported a sudden increase in anorexia and bulimia with the arrival of television in their communities.
·    The primary reason for following a nutrition or fitness plan was to lose weight and to become more attractive rather than to improve overall health and well being, according to mainstream nutrition and fitness magazines from 1970-1990.

Definitions of the different types of Eating Disorders which are the most popular today.

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by an intentional loss of a substantial amount of one’s body weight (loss of 15% of normal body weight) that is accomplished through severe dieting and/or purging.  Anorexics have an intense fear of fat, and their preoccupation with food and weight is often used to mask other issues.  Those with anorexia are often characterized as perfectionists and overachievers who appear to be in control.  Peak times for onset of anorexia are at ages 12-13 and at age 17, known times of development (although signs of eating disorders in elderly populations are rising).

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder where an individual engages in recurrent (an average of twice a week for 3 months) bingeing and purging.  Bingeing usually involves a rapid consumption of large amounts of food (binges can range from 1,000-30,000 calories).  The bulimic then attempts to rid his/her body of the food by purging (vomiting, laxatives, exercise, and/or fasting).  The bulimic may not be visibly underweight and may in fact be slightly overweight due to the binge-purge cycle.  Individuals with bulimia are often characterized as having a hard time dealing with and controlling impulses, stress, and anxieties.  Onset for this disorder is common in the late teens and early 20s.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED), more commonly known as compulsive overeating, is the most newly recognized among the three designated eating disorders.  People with this condition engage in frequent binges, but unlike the bulimic, she/he does not purge afterward.  Binges are followed by intense feelings of shame, disgust, and guilt.  The illness usually begins in late adolescence or in the early 20s, often coming soon after significant weight loss from dieting (reason why dieters often say, “I’ve gained all my weight back and more”).  Researchers show that anywhere between 15-50% of individuals enrolled in dieting programs suffer from BED.

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is the category that a person might be diagnosed with if they do not fit the criteria for any specific eating disorder. For example:
·    If a female meets all the criteria for anorexia, but still has regular menses. Or if all the criteria are met for anorexia except the person maintains a normal weight.
·    For bulimia, all the criteria are met except that the bingeing and purging happen less than twice a week or occur less than three months. Or if the person does not binge, but still engages in purging (e.g. self-induced vomiting after eating two cookies).
·    Another characteristic is repeatedly chewing and spitting out, but not swallowing, large amounts of food.

“I, unfortunately know all too much about anorexia from my own personal experience. The reason I wanted to question what was the conventional wisdom when I first began looking at this issue, was that when I remembered how I became anorexic, it wasn’t a particularly neurotic process. When I was thirteen, perfectly average sized kid, a boy, Bobby Sherman, poked me in the stomach, and said ‘Watch it Wolf.’ The implication was that I was getting chubby and I immediately did what Cosmo suggest that I should do.”  [7]

Sources all accessed 24/11/2010

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/oct/18/classics.shopping accessed 22/11/2010. Emily Wilson. The Guardian. Tuesday 18 October 2005.
[2] Lily Allen. Everything’s Just Wonderful. Off album: All Right Still.
[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_ZW_pUQx2s Lily Allen. Everything’s Just Wonderful.
[4] Naomi Wolf. Unknown date. http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/22393.Naomi_Wolf
[5] http://www.renfrewcenter.com/uploads/resources/1067338472_1.doc Downloadable PDF
[6] The Beauty Myth: How images of beauty are used against women. Naomi Wolf. 2002. ISBN0-06051-2180
[7] From her address at Dying to be Thin: The prevention of eating disorders and the role of Federal policy, An APA Co-Sponsored Congressional Briefing – July, 1997. Naomi Wolf

[8] image: http://www.theredmountainpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/naomi-wolf-2.jpg

[9] image: http://haergar06.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/beauty-myth.jpg

[10] http://www.thevine.com.au/resources/GALLIMAGE/300608103040_kate_moss_lily_allen_01_wen.jpg