Studies have shown that teenage girls view commercials of women modeling super thin figures as so ideal and hard to achieve that they become more angry and dissatisfied with their own appearance (Hargreaves, 2002 as cited in Media’s Effect on Body Image). Images of women’s bodies have proliferated widely, but the female ideal in popular culture has quite literally narrowed over time. In 1870’s British music hall performer Lydia Thompson and her “British Blonds” exemplified the voluptuous, full-bodied ideal of female beauty. By the 1990s a smaller, boyish figure appeared in Europe and North America.
When Playboy magazine introduced the full-bosomed centerfold model in the 1950s, the women who posed were about 9 percent under the normal female weight. By 1978 these models were 16 percent under normal female weight (Hargreaves, 2002 as cited in Media’s Effect on Body Image). To illustrate this clearly, apparently, though American culture (as well as other Western cultures) have celebrated the look of thinness among its women as a standard of beauty, bulimia is actually something many afflicted women are ashamed of admitting (ANRED 2006; Beach 1998, p.57).
Some would be shocked to even realize that this personal denial of the affliction is causing death for about 20 percent of sufferers, and is now recognized as a top killer of girls and women aged fifteen to twenty-five (Guernsey 2006, p. 179). The frequency of bulimia in the US is estimated to be 1-3% of high school- and college-aged women.
This may seem insignificant for some, but there are sources, saying that coming up with a more accurate or “real” figure is difficult because of the stigma of eating disorders (Chiodo, Stanley, & Harvey 1984, p.281) and because of denial of afflicted women and their families While advertising and pornography glorified a thin female image, mass production also contributed to a more homogenized female body. For centuries women had made their clothing at home to fit their own contours. With the shift to read-made clothing, mass-marketed through chains of department stores, women’s fashions became more standardized. Those whose size of shape did not fit the norm measured themselves against an impossible ideal.
Philosopher Susan Bordo argues that the homogenizing effect of consumer capitalism created “boundaries on difference,” narrowing the range of acceptable physical shapes and inducing women to discipline their bodies in an effort to conform. (Chiodo, Stanley, & Harvey 1984, p. 282) All these issues about body image is due to the image and notions of beauty that is anchored on the physical body, particularly thinness. This can be called “the thinner, the sexier and more beautiful” mindset. The main clients, hence, are the people afflicted by bulimia and their families.
The clients though also include organizations concerned with bulimia, for the case study can provide it with new developments and learning about local bulimia situation and prevention strategies. The players are comprised of the government, non-government units, media and other concerned health and youth groups and sectors, and even popular individuals that mold or implicate notions of beauty that prescribe unhealthy thinness, especially those institutions that who have taken part in the developing a consciousness of thinness that destroys women’s lives at the very least, and kills lives at the very most.
(Chiodo, Stanley, & Harvey 1984, p. 283) Weight Watchers, a hugely successful corporation that pioneered the profitability of fear of fat, has a clientele that is 95 percent female. (Guernsey 2006, p. 180). Diet sell hundreds of millions of copies, even though medical studies have shown that dieting does not produce long-term weight-loss. “Fat farms” charge thousands of dollars a week to mange reduction routines. More extreme treatment such as jaw wiring, protein injections, and the potentially fatal gastric stapling are too costly for most women.