The barbie syndrome

ONE of the main issues in the media today is the constant presence of unrealistic body images presented to teenagers.

Statistics show altered images in magazines increase low self-esteem and even depression among youth.

Images of extremely thin models or celebrities give teens the message they should be like these people, causing them to lose weight and drastically change their appearance.

Barbie is an example of a global negative influence on body image.

Research found if a real woman had the figure of a traditional Barbie doll, her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body; her waist would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimetres of bowel; she would suffer from chronic diarrhoea, and; eventually she would die from malnutrition.

This information is disturbing considering 99 per cent of girls aged three to 10 years of age own at least one Barbie doll. Having such a bad example to idolise at such a young age creates unrealistic expectations before children even reach the age of 10.

It’s not just teen girls either.

Teenage boys, even though they may be more reluctant to admit it, can also have body image issues. Nearly just as many altered images of males appear in fashion magazines.

Retouching images is the main contributing factor to this body image issue.

Nearly every photo in your average fashion magazine will have been through an extremely rigorous editing process, which involves smoothing skin tones, reshaping body parts, eye brightening, teeth whitening, hair fixing and everything in between.

And the majority of young people aren’t aware of the extent of the adjustments.

Only recently have magazines been forced to bear all when it comes to the truth about photo editing.

Magazines often apply these techniques without informing the readers of the work that has been done. However, magazines such as Girlfriend Magazine and Dolly have made major improvements in this regard.

Dolly recently published a retouch-free edition.

Girlfriend Magazine has also recently started captioning their photos with information about the retouching processes that have been applied.

These teen-targeted magazines are still just as popular without the hidden retouching and they are helping to fix the body image of teens. This is ultimately helping teenage girls to see the bare truth; not the edited version.

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