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Silicone Sally on... pressures placed on women by the media

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Media and advertising are constantly putting pressure on young girls and women to look in a style or an image it wants. But why do women succumb to this pressure? When society is bombarded by images of size 8 women with tanned skin and white, straight teeth, it naturally or sub-consciously is led to believe that this is the image one must strive for. 

But did you know that is not necessarily the same all over the world? In places likeBrazilor some countries in North Central Africa, bigger is better. Skinny women are looked upon as unattractive and local advertising gives off an image that large buttocks, well-endowed breasts and at least a size 14 or 16 represents an image of wealth, beauty and power.

Not so, you might say, in the Western World.  Wafer thin models stroll down the catwalks of Paris, London and New York, some of whom look like they are about to snap in half should they trip and fall. The fashion industry is central to promoting the image of what is, and what is not beautiful, fashionable and in-vogue. Furthermore, it does not care if your confidence is shattered and your femininity is put into question because it focuses on profit.

Its aim is to make money and create wealth by selling as many items of clothing/make-up/perfume as it can. As a woman begins to grow up through adolescence, she begins to feel the pressure on her femininity and her need to confirm to the magazine portrayal of “attractive”.

In those integral teenage years, the media, led by the giant and corporate-driven fashion industry, targets them with accuracy.  It knows confidence in young girls is easily shattered. The industry promotes “that” look, assuring young girls that it is in their interest to conform through purchases, so they can boost their femininity and self-esteem. 

The good news is that things are very slowly changing.  More and more firms are hiring normal body shapes to promote their products and more and more parents are becoming aware of the pressure their children face and educating them against it. 

We are a small fish in the world of fashion commerce, but we strongly believe that woman of all body shapes and sizes are equal. 

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  1. Mark W

    My girlfriend comes from a town in a rural part of north Germany. Neither she, nor her female friends, family or neighbours seem to spend any time at all fretting or obsessing over their shape or body image, nor do they appear to be constantly reading magazines to ensure their adherence to fashion. Which is not to say they don't take a pride in their appearance or dress sense - they do - but the sense of style seems to owe more to what weight, shape and clothing feels good personally than attempting to chase the unobtainable images that dominate the fashion scene here. Even in German cities there seems to be a far more relaxed attitude to womens looks, size and shape - I've certainly never been asked "does my bum look big in this". What's noticeable is that on the whole Germany is far less of a high pressure consumer hot house than the UK, at least where fashion is concerned. Shopping is not the national pastime it is in Britain, and social conversation doesn't seem to dwell eternally on what people own, are thinking of buying or the latest high street chain store sale. I think there's a lesson; fashion is just one part of our consumerist society, and it becomes high pressure because that is the culture across all businesses, where anything bought today is irrelevant by tomorrow. Perpetually undermining womens confidence in their own taste and presenting an unattainable (and unhealthy in both a mental and physical way) ideal ensures they will keep spending in the vain hope of matching someone else's entirely ersatz expectations. The irony is that in survey after survey both women and men express a preference for quite normal and body types, recently evidenced in the number of column inches generated by the full, curvaceous figures in the BBC series "Mad Men". Fashion isn't the only UK industry that discards all morality at the door, but it is perhaps the most pernicious in that it is quite happy to sacrifice the self esteem of half the population for the sake of profit.

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