Mirror Image

By Sage Grove, Year 12

For as long as we can remember, body image has been a massive issue in the media and everyday life. It all started in the 1900s when expectations were set by the ‘Gibson Girl.’ This was a portrait of a tall and slender girl painted by Charles Dana Gibson. Just days after Gibson released his work of art, women began to think they had to look like the girl in his painting. She was tall, slim yet curvy. People assumed this muse of Gibbons was the perfect, healthy body that would please their husbands. Little did they know, this was not a real woman. Gibson painted this ‘dream’ woman based on what he thought, and what he wanted other people to think was the “oh so perfect” woman. This was just the beginning of unrealistic perceptions set for women.

gThe next major phase that took place was the post-war era. This was the time for hourglass bodies. Women were taught to want a curvy figure, a flat stomach yet still maintain a large bust and chest. The so-called ‘icons’ of this era were people such as Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. As Monroe took over Hollywood with her many appearances in top movies, she also projected the idea of being ‘flawless.’ This meant perfect skin, body as well as fashion sense. People always took advice from popular opinion in the media however and did not know that the tips they were following could lead to major health problems in the future.

Next came the ‘twig’ era,  where anorexia took its toll worldwide. During the 1960s, women changed from their hourglass figure, thin and narrow. This was because of the way society portrays healthy. Being a bit heavier during the 60s was a death trap. This is why most women became anorexic or bulimic. This was also the beginning of a worldwide problem of diet pill over usage (diet pills are dangerous pills which suppress your appetite). These were used by women to stop the natural temptation to eat. Diet pills became a major problem and temptation to people with anorexia nervosa in the 60s.

In the 80s things began to shape up, literally. This was the time for fitness. During this era, many supermodels put emphasis on fitness and the importance of working out in order to get the ideal model body during this stage. The image every girl wanted to achieve in this time was tall, slender and fit. This not only was the age of fitness, but also the rise of supermodels. Some of the most famous models such as Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Claudia Schiffer took control of the model industry during this time due to their ideally viewed bodies.

Last but not least, the 2000s rolled around. This is where media began shrinking women. This of course, is just a figure of speech. Once social media platforms, magazines and model industries took off, so did the concept of shrinking women. Airbrushing began to evolve in the 2000s, meaning that the images of women you were seeing in magazines weren’t real women. Today, we live in a society where airbrushing has become common practice for editorials. Of course they are still photos of women, but they are edited to such an extent, you can’t even figure out who the model is before the airbrushed version.

The model and magazine industry have forever been telling women how they need to look, dress and act, but that ends now. With this new information about airbrushing, brainwashing and editing, I hope people will begin to understand the ‘perfect body’ they are trying to achieve, isn’t real.