Do we have to suffer to be beautiful? Health debate 07.07.09

The conversation was dominated by concerns about body weight—plastic surgery, tattoos, piercing were barely mentioned. There was a spirited defence of heavier bodies by some  and almost universal disapproval of extreme thinness and its promotion.

The beauty industry has more effect on our body image than partner, family and friends, but 40% still feel their own point of view is the most important (all statements quoted here achieved at least 70% support).

The majority of the group felt it was “crucial to act” to address the issue of media pressure on all of us to look a certain way.

  • I like that eg mascara ads now say “with false eyelashes”. Its reassuring. All beauty ads should have to declare their fakeness.

Advantages of more body image interest

The group acknowledged that interest in how we look is not all bad…

  • it is a luxury and a privilege to be living at a time in civilisation when we can afford this indulgence in how we look – not just fighting to survive
  • focus on health and fitness

Disadvantages of more body image interest

But there were many more strongly supported statements concerning the disadvantages which included increased incidence of eating disorders among children, a tendency to be superficial and an

  • emphasis on appearance rather than being

Action points

There were mixed feelings on public education about healthy eating with some wariness of nanny state tendencies. But certainly interest in a more personal approach

  • Important to be with our kids and help them interpret these messages, reminding them they have a choice (and reminding ourselves too!)

Keeping the conversation going and extending to new audiences was seen as important too:

  • make this technology available for kids to have conversations too
  • ..and people working within the various beauty industries might benefit from the opportunity to participate in this kind of conversation

LINKS

Rosa, advocacy group for women and girls

Womankind Worldwide, development agency

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