Body Image in Teens: Banning Photos of Skinny Models

Is London’s Ban of Photos Using Skinny Models Helping Body Image in Teens?

The White House recently hosted the first United States of Women summit meeting, where Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama spoke on the issues of body image in teens. The new mayor of London also announced a policy that would ban ads on public transport that may promote unrealistic body standards for women. The real question still remains: will this ban of photos have a positive change on body image in teens?

The policy presented by the mayor of London will be carried out by the London transit authority via a committee that will approve ads. The regulation will follow decisions by the Advertising Standards Authority of Britain, to ban certain ads that depict young women in an unhealthily thin way.

Media’s Effect on Body Image

Oprah Winfrey stated “We live in a world where you are constantly being bombarded by images.” Many studies have shown that depictions of thin women in idealized or overly airbrushed photographs can play a significant role in eating disorders and negative body image in teens. While this policy seems like a step in the right direction for body image in teens, many believe it will only reinforce stereotypes instead of resolving the real issue at hand.

Trading Judgement for Judgement

This policy, while created with good intentions, reinforces the message that judgements of body image in teens should continue to be determined by people of power. Shouldn’t individuals be the ones to determine if they feel their body is healthy or unhealthy? The judgments placed on these photos from the committee selected, may be coming from a good place. That doesn’t eliminate the fact that it is still a personal judgment, being placed on these women by a third party. Ultimately creating another set of prejudices and preconceptions.

A Common Misconception

To encourage the idea that you can look at a photo and determine if a woman is healthy or unhealthy is a misconception. Many people have a false understanding of eating disorders. People believe that you can identify someone with an eating disorder because of their weight or appearance. What people don’t realize is that an individual can have a seemingly normal body mass index but still have issues with food and body image. While another person can appear bony, but has no problem maintaining a healthy diet or having positive self-image.

The “Right” Body Type

The solution to negative body image in teens isn’t to limit the types of bodies represented in media. Limiting the body types youth are exposed to, only continues to teach them that there is a specific body image expectation. If we expose youth to multiple body types, adolescents will develop a better understanding that bodies come in all sizes; fat, thin, short, or tall. They’ll feel less pressure to conform to what is perceived as “right”, because they will have established acceptance of how their bodies are naturally. Society, media or government, should have no say in whether you fit into the “right” body type. It’s your body, shouldn’t your body image be yours too?

Asheville Academy Can Help!

Asheville Academy, a residential treatment center in a traditional school setting for girls 10-14, helps teen girls struggling with anxiety, depression and other emotional and behavioral issues. If your daughter’s worries about body image are more than just normal fears, consider sending her to Asheville Academy, a therapeutic boarding school. With a caring staff and a clinically based program, Asheville Academy can help your daughter feel comfortable with school.

For more information about Asheville Academy, contact us today at 800.264.8709