Network Blog

Reflections on fitness, wellness, health and more

Fat or fiction? Faking body image in the media

While reading the New York Times Health and Fitness Blog recently, I came across a post by Tara Parker-Pope that really caught my eye, entitled ‘Losing Weight by Photoshop’. The title obviously speaks for itself, and after reading the very well written piece, it reinforced to me how many people in our industry – and of course, how many of our clients and customers – have a negative perception of their body image.

The post from the NY Times site essentially analyses the ongoing debate about how much the mass media influences people’s perception of what is considered to be attractive or normal in regards body weight and size. It has some examples of digitally re-touched photographs of celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce and Jessica Alba and goes to show you just how much work is actually done on them. This is nothing new; we’ve been aware of magazines altering images for years, but the extent to which changes are now made, and the fact that already slim celebrities are reduced even further in size to fit unobtainable and unhealthy ‘ideals’ is generating more concern.

There is an interesting YouTube clip (with almost 10 million views) called Dove Evolution that shows the evolution of a model from the moment she sits in the makeup chair until her face is on a billboard. Of particular interest is the stage after they’ve finished the makeup and hair, when they begin to ‘work’ on her photographs on the computer. It’s all viewed in fast forward and well worth having a look at here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U

The question I would pose is, how would this affect the younger generation’s perception of what is acceptable as far as beauty and weight goes? According to the NY Times, young teenage females seem to be the most susceptible to falling into negative behaviours such as eating disorders and some question what role the mass media has in causing this.

And I would like to follow that up by posing the following questions to the fitness industry at large:
1. What can WE as an industry do to help promote healthy and positive body images to our members and clients?
2. How can WE begin to change the perception of our clubs as being places only for the elite and super fit part of the general public?
3. How could it positively affect our fitness business by addressing the first two questions?
4. Why are we not doing it yet?

Do you have any thoughts or experiences you would like to share with the industry at large? Please use the comments feature below to help shape your industry.

You can read the full NY Times Blog Post by clicking here

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