Hardly a week goes by that America's obsession with thinness doesn't play out on supermarket magazine racks.
Remember Angelina Jolie at this year's Oscars? Celebrity glossies plastered the A-lister-turned-pipe cleaner on their covers and remarked on how well her Armani gown hung on her frame.
Headlines should have suggested, "The Tomb Raider" actress should raid a refrigerator. Or two.
It's all the rage. Rags rave about gamine actresses showing off their "pin thin legs" and waistlines so pencil-thin they can use cigar bands as belts.
And in a world-tilted-off-its-axis, Bizarro World twist, scary-thin celubutantes such as Disney Princess Anne Hathaway and Britain's duchess Kate Middleton have become "thinspiration" for anorexia and bulimia zealots.
Famine's in fashion. And it's left more than hundreds of thousands of young impressionable girls starving for nourishment — a half-million America teens have battled an eating disorder, according to a recent massive federal study in the Archives of General Psychiatry — or self-esteem.
Not to mention women who self-flagellate struggling to slip into thin.
But this week, came a welcome disturbance in the force. Fashion's kingpin, Vogue magazine, stepped up onto the catwalk and went all Sir Mix-a-Lot (he of "Baby Got Back" infamy) on the famine fashionistas.
The editors of Vogue's 19 global editions agreed no longer to feature models that "appear to have an eating disorder."
Vogue's vanguard stance is the latest pitch to ditch heroin chic.
To strut across the runways in Italy and Spain, models now have to pass a test. Bone-bearing models that fall below a certain Body Mass Index level are benched. And in March, Israel passed a law that requires models to adhere to healthy BMI minimums set by the World Health Organization.
Said Rachel Adato, who championed the measure: "Beautiful is not underweight. Beautiful should not be anorexic."
If only young impressionable girls — and the boys who hope to date them — would hear and listen.
Children as young as 10 already have formed concepts about the perfect body, according to a study recently published in the journal BMC Public Health. And surprise, surprise, the girls involved in a Nova Scotia study felt more satisfied about their body image if they were thinner.
That's true. Often, as my daughter was growing up, she looked into diets and surveyed her body for signs of fat. Mind you, the child took after her daddy, who has arms that Boy Scouts could rub together and produce fire. And her worries, though less explicit, still linger at age 20, though even today scientists would need to employ an electron microscope to locate an atom of fat to register on the BMI.
Similarly, Purdue researcher Sarah A. Mustillo found that self-identity and body issues have staying power even for formerly obese women.
"Studies show that children internalize stereotypes and negative perceptions of obese people before they ever become obese themselves," she noted in a news release, "so when they do enter that stigmatized state, it affects their sense of self-worth."
That's why Vogue's turnabout potentially can send waves of change through the industry, hopefully capsizing the unattainable and unhealthy beauty ideal that society's kept afloat too long.
Vogue's American edition will adopt the new guidelines in June. Not a moment too soon. Hopefully, other mags swiftly will see Vogue's stand as food for thought.
And very soon after that, women will see, with moderation, it's OK to raid the fridge.
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