The reality of the lack of body diversity in the modeling industry

illustration by Sarah Hofstedt

When you sit down and open up a fashion magazine, what do you see? Tall, skinny, white women. It’s the same in almost every magazine except a few.

The diversity in the modeling industry is improving, but slowly. This hyper-skinny look has been defined as the ideal beauty standard in the American modeling industry and this has negative impacts.

Many women, and especially young girls, are being influenced by the media and are being negatively impacted by the pressure to look like the women they see plastered all around them.

There is nothing wrong with being skinny, but there is something seriously wrong with the idea that a size two is superior to a size 10. Many models have been turned away from photoshoots for being “too fat” and as a consequence, some have developed eating disorders.

So, why does body diversity matter so much? For teenagers, depiction goes much deeper than viewing relatable images. Because they internalize the messages they see, this can greatly affect their self-esteem. These images are impactful with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. The message is to do whatever it takes to be skinny.

This scares me for the young girls as these images bombard them now more than ever and teach them that the most significant part about them is their appearance. What we need to focus on is to normalize all body types and promote overall health.

The bodies we see are not natural, but are technologically altered. These images pressure viewers to meet an impossible standard. Unfortunately, girls see these images and turn to unhealthy means to gain this desirable body.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders shares that when one feels poorly about their appearance they are more vulnerable to other mental disorders. It is vital that all body types are represented so women can relate to what they see and not feel the pressure of being expected to look a certain way.

The lack of diversity also has an affect on men, as the message indicates that being muscular is associated with self-acceptance.

I believe an important goal in making progress is to encourage people of all body types to pursue their dreams. I find it critical that the modeling industry promotes overall diversity, no matter the body type, so that people feel beautiful in who they are and that both their body and mind is stable.

As a viewer, I find it vital that we fight back against the modeling industry by seeking out social media accounts that promote strength and health at every body size, refrain from body bashing and engage in appropriate eating habits and exercise.

Much of what we view in the modeling industry is toxic and it is time for a change. It is time that the culture in this prominent industry learns to value and appreciate true diversity and beauty.