The modeling industry is one that is much more widespread than the tabloid section of the grocery store. These cover girls and runway models have a larger impact than just mere advertisement—they become role models to their fans. Many will go to severe lengths to imitate their unrealistic bodily features through extreme dieting and even body modification, like plastic surgery, and the modeling industry can either prevent or promote young women from idolizing and imitating these social figures.
It is undeniable that Western cultures are generally known as the “thin cultures” (Samelson 44). Those in the media, such as actresses, movie stars, models, and other celebrities are often “seriously underweight and many diet and smoke to keep their natural weight off” (“Media Influence on Youth”). They don’t merely do this to look good, however; they do this in order to keep their job. Model casting agents, such as James Scully, “draw the line at a 23-inch waist—if a model is any bigger, [then] she need not apply to walk in their shows” (Bullock 140).
So if a 23-inch waist is the cut-off, then what happens if a successful model does not fit into this category anymore? While many will work hard to maintain their figure the healthy way, through diet and exercise, and others through smoking and starving themselves, some do none of the above. If a fashion model is not the ideal weight, then digital technology can make her legs look thinner and longer, reduce stomach fat, smooth out any stretch marks, as well as give her a more slender face (Samelson 44). A recent example of this was shown through SELF Magazine’s 2009 September cover with model, Kelly Clarkson. Clarkson was photographed to be the face of confidence and inspire women to lose weight, the same way that she did. However, the magazine editors “constructed a new body that bears no resemblance to what Clarkson [looked] like [in 2009]” (Hartmann, “Self Editors Explain”). Editorial Assistant Ashley Mateo stated that “no one wants to see a giant picture of some star’s cellulite on the cover of a monthly magazine.” Editor-in-Chief Lucy Danzinger goes on to say that:
Portraits for the cover of SELF are not supposed to be unedited or a true-to-life snapshot. When the cover girl arrives at the shoot, she could be mistaken for a member of the crew…Once we do her makeup and hair, we then capture a moment that shows her at her best. Then we mark up the photograph to correct any [flaws] that might detract from the beauty of the shot…it is meant to inspire women to want to be their best. In the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, I think this is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand. (Hartmann, “Self Editors Explain”)
With perfected, airbrushed, and technologically altered images available in the media, our culture has transformed into one that idolizes beautiful, thin women. “Plenty of that blame has been heaped at… Twiggy, Marilyn Monroe, and Kate Moss” (Bullock 141). This type of...