How many times have you seen magazine blurbs reading “Get The Hot Body You’ve Always Wanted,” or “Six Moves To A Great Butt,” or “Flat Abs By The New Year!”?
Probably a lot. Right? Every month, fitness magazines, fashion magazines, even men’s magazines, tout the best ways to get the trimmest, slimmest bodies.
Ideally, those magazines should be meant for adults who can responsibly care for their bodies and are aware of the risks of over-exercising, under-eating, or doing anything that could lead to a disordered habit (Note: I am not saying all adults are immune to that, but we are more aware that such habits exist). That’s not always the case.
When I was walking through CVS the other day past the magazine section, I actually stopped in my tracks when I saw the latest issue of Seventeen. On the cover was Pretty Little Liar’s star Troian Bellisario, who many girls find to be a role model – and she, in my opinion, is a good one. So why was I so flustered by the cover?
Look at the words right below Troian’s cover blurb: “Get An Insane Body! It’s Hard Work But You’ll Look Hot!”
Okay, you’re most likely thinking, “that’s nothing new, Angela, Seventeen always has a section about fitness and looking hot.” You’re right, they do. I’ve read Seventeen for years.
Here’s what the big deal is: Troian Bellisario battled an eating disorder. Thousands of girls will read this magazine, in which Troian talks about her negative relationship with food and self-harm. She opens up in this magazine and on their website, saying, “I started self-harming when I was a junior. I would withhold food or withhold going out with my friends, based on how well I did that day in school” (Source: Troian Bellisario Exclusive Interview – Troian Bellisario Quotes – Seventeen).
Troian talks about her eating disorder and self-harm in an effort to let teen girls know that to be happy, you don’t have to do those harmful things. Later in the interview, she talks about how friends and family make her most happy now. Like I’ve read on other blog so many times, having a great body can only bring you so much happiness. It’s the small moments in life that make it full.
And Seventeen felt it necessary to write: “Get An Insane Body! It’s Hard Work But You’ll Look Hot!” I don’t understand that. The girls who are reading the magazine are receiving mixed messages: “It’s okay if you just want to be happy,and you don’t need to be skinny to be happy!” alongside “But you’ll feel so much better if you look hot!”
As a teen, I felt the pressure to be thin. I really did, and part of it came from magazines like Seventeen. The beautiful girls inside, modeling clothes with their great bodies, and the workout sections featuring thin models in sports bras – they had an effect on me. When I first heard that Troian Bellisario was opening up about her disordered eating inside the magazine, my first thought was, “Great! Finally, a beautiful star who can share her struggles and how she overcame them. Maybe magazines are finally realizing that disordered habits are a widespread problem, and these celebrities can try to help.” They have the power to send out such positive messages. When I saw the cover, all I can say is that I felt complete disappointment.
I’ll leave you with this: the magazine industry, specifically magazines that reach a young audience, have the power to influence; I hope that in the future, those organizations won’t find it necessary to advertise the “hot body,” especially alongside a woman who has struggled with disordered habits. It’s a double-standard.
Question of the Day:
>>What are your thoughts on this?