The Media Feeds The Skinny

Fashion plays an incredibly large role in the life of every individual on a day-to-day basis. From the moment a person wakes up until the time they shut their eyes to go to sleep, people decide what clothes to adorn their bodies with. Choosing clothes is an unavoidable part of the essential constituents that make up a day.  Not only do these decisions on clothes help a person to identify themselves, clothes invite onlookers to be made aware of the most appealing parts of the body. Most of the time, men and women are attracted to another person based first on appearance. However, the way attractiveness is defined by society has transformed from having a beautiful face or great hair to being thin, for both men and women. Fashion is no longer coined by the clothes that people wear, it is seen more in the way the clothes wear the people.

The ever-evolving definition of attractiveness has thus far landed on being thin or being fit, though the two are often confused for the being the same (mainly because the media uses the two interchangeably at times). To be thin is to be underweight and to be fit is to be physically sound and healthy. Ten years ago, men were more concerned with becoming fit, but now the pressures have increased even more and men want to be thin.

The picture shown above represents how male models would typically appear on the runway, in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Vey toned and very focused on the masculine features.

This second picture shows how (runway) male models are depicted in the media presently, from runways to advertisements the skinny silhouette is portrayed as a new fashion icon. This is not just a testament about the male figure changing from buff to skinny – it is about how the methods of obtaining this thin appearance have changed, beginning with a steady rise in eating disorders among men.

A recent study conducted by Harvard University revealed that in 1990, 10% of the population who struggled with anorexia was men. Now, that number has more than doubled and is currently at an overwhelming 25%. In an article written by Guy Trebay of The New York Times, Stas Svetlichnyy, a Russian model, claimed that, ““Designers like the skinny guy..It looks good in the clothes and that’s the main thing. That’s just the way it is now.” Unfortunately, Svetlichnyy was right when he made this statement. Male models have gotten thinner as the years pass by.

This picture above shows two male models, Sascha Kooienga, left, and Artem Emelianov, who represent the current body type of male models – skinny silhouette.

The media acts as a catalyst for men and women struggling to maintain or just to get the perfect body and it charges these ideals that are just so unrealistic. These images are of people who starve themselves and who have a disorder, a real problem. Disorders such as bulimia or anorexia stem from a variety of misconceptions, starting at a very young age. The media is the biggest pull towards eating disorders, with pictures of the ideal men and women wearing the clothes that are most sought after – of course people want to look like these models. Not only are the models wearing the clothes that the average American could not afford, but they wear the clothes in a way that is so desirable and that attracts attention to “perfect” parts of their bodies. Truly, it is not even just clothes and perfect bodies that are attracting men and women to be thin.

In 2007, Eliana and Luisel Ramos both died within one month of each other after suffering from anorexia. The sisters, pictured above in several different photos, were both runway models from Latin America who were terribly skinny at the time of their deaths. According to CBS News, two friends of both girls both denied that poor eating habits had anything to do with either of the deaths. Later autopsies revealed that malnutrition was, in fact, the cause of death for each sister. This is just a representation of two cases of death followed by an eating disorder. Unfortunately, many suffer from anorexia and/or bulimia as a result of feeling a strong desire to have the perfect, thin, body. The media has begun to represent thin people in a fashionable way to society, as if to say that the only way to be beautiful is to be thin.