Opinion Blog: The Pressure to be Thin

May 2, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Posted by Caroline Foster

Whether SMU women are sharing diet tips, experiencing remorse after eating anything “unhealthy” or idolizing super-skinny celebrities, the pressure to be thin on campus is anything but tiny.

With summer just around the corner, swimsuit season is on the radar and the pressure to look perfect increases. I know many girls who are changing their diet and exercise routines in ways that could be potentially harmful.

In a world where the average consumer is exposed to more than one thousand advertisements each day, it’s no wonder many feel the need to look a certain way. The unrealistic beauty ideal the media constantly shows can affect our self-esteem and contribute to an obsession with being thin.

In a recent study by Glamour Magazine, 97 percent of those surveyed said they had at least one “I hate my body” moment per day. The media’s constant presence can attribute to this. Especially when it typically shows the image of a thin female with large breasts, light skin and perfect features. Open any magazine and nearly every advertisement and editorial features a model with this look. It is this ideal that we as women strive to attain. We hope with insane amounts of dieting and exercise we can one day look like this.

But the media’s portrayal of the ideal model does not just affect American women. One of the main exports of the United States is the media; whether it’s television shows, movies, or magazines the U.S. media affects other countries as well.

In South Korea the trend is to have a surgical procedure on the eyes that makes them look rounder, more Western. In India skin lightening is all the rage, and one of the best selling beauty products is a lightening cream called Fair & Lovely. In Hong Kong weight loss centers litter the streets. Women flock to these establishments for procedures that decrease fat. These are just some of the examples of the western media’s effects around the world.

Fashion and fashion models are also prominent outlets for this body ideal. Many countries in Europe are taking positive steps in the fashion industry. In 2006, Madrid fashion week banned models with unhealthy Body Mass Indexes (BMI) from participating in the shows. London fashion week followed suit, and France tried to pass a bill banning media, including blogs, that promoted “excessive thinness.”

Researchers agree that the effects of the media are real, especially on body image. The images can contribute to body dissatisfaction, or in extreme cases, to eating disorders. But as the effects of the media are strong, why is it that other countries are being more proactive than the United States in showing healthier models?

The United States is taking a passive approach to the problem. The Council of Fashion Designers of America have recommendations for supporting a healthy atmosphere back stage at shows, but no regulations against using scary-skinny models.

Since it’s the Western media that affects millions of women, I think it is also their responsibility to use positive images as well. Advertisements like Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” are helping lead the way, but it seems other companies are slow to follow in Dove’s footsteps.

The majority of the media seems to show no concern for the images it shows, and the body ideals it is responsible for shaping. It seems the media is resistant to change and the images will continue to be shown. So, as women faced with pressure to look our best, remember the images you see in the media are not real, hours are spent photoshopping, airbrushing and perfecting them.

Student Health: Chinese Food the Smart Way

February 3, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Marissa Adamany

We all know that our favorite Chinese restaurants on Greenville like Betty’s Best and New Big Wong deliver until 3 o’clock in the morning. What you may not know is how to make that midnight splurge a little less hazardous to your waistline. Here’s my advice…

First off, start with soup. Soup is a great way to fill you up with minimal calories. Choose hot and sour, wonton, or egg drop soup. One cup is about 50 to 70 calories. My best advice would be to stay away from the egg rolls, but if you just can’t help yourself, eat half of the shell and all of the stuffing. This saves about 70 calories.

Next, order an entrée that is not fried. Instead of crispy chicken, opt for cashew chicken or sesame chicken. The fried batter in crispy chicken can add over 400 calories! And for those of you keeping track, that’s the equivalent to 45 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical…talk about torture. If its beef you like, order beef with broccoli or Mongolian beef.

Also, spice it up for an added metabolism burn. Spicy foods like red pepper and cayenne actually briefly speed up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories. Most importantly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, skip the rice! White rice is just empty calories. It has no nutrients, it’s processed and has no fiber. The rice is what causes the food coma…and that gross feeling you experience when you have eaten too much. Additionally, it is much easier for your body to digest proteins (like chicken and beef) when there is no starch (like rice) in your body.

Craving some other little calorie saver tricks?

· Order food with no MSG – don’t ask, its just bad

· Order food with light oil and light sauce (or sauce on the side)– major calorie saver

· Skip out on all sweet and sour dishes. A combination of sugar, salt, and fried batter…trust me, you will hate yourself in the morning

· Eat with chopsticks. It will help you eat slower and drain some of that excess sauce (extra sauce equals extra calories)

· Take food out of the container and put in onto a plate. This helps drain out excess sauce.

· Go ahead and eat a fortune cookie. One has only 30 calories. There’s no better way to end the night than with a little sweet treat!

Marissa is a sophomore double major in Marketing and Corporate Communications & Public Affairs. She is also a personal trainer at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. This semester, she will be writing a weekly health column for the Daily Mustang.